The whole child approach to teaching implies support for all areas of children’s development. The whole child approach includes learning various skills from social-emotional to cognitive skills to ensure the development of children’s thinking and understanding of things by introducing them to different interests and deepening their curiosity. This essay will provide insight on assessments and methods required to maintain a focus on the whole child.
Firstly, as the whole child approach implies addressing the child’s needs in different spheres, the data collected from classroom assessments should be enough to point to the child’s developmental process and ensure the measurements. As classroom assessments provide information for identifying the children’s strengths and needs as a group and differentiating each child, only a small addition of other types of assessments is needed (McAfee, Leong, & Bodrova, 2016). The additional assessments might include writing an individual report on each child’s progress in learning and developing his skills. To maintain the whole-child approach, the assessments should be aimed at developing children’s skills in a social-emotional area, physical state, cognitive learning, use of language, knowledge of literacy, and understanding of mathematics basics.
The guidelines required for conducting developmentally appropriate observations recommend using a general, practical approach with the addition of specific assessment opportunities. The general approach states the importance of the use of scheduling in the activities for making appropriate observations (McAfee et al., 2016). The schedule should give the children time to become familiar with assessments, the goals of assessments, and the process of assessments. The key aspect of this issue is to start gradually with easy assessment techniques, make them a part of everyday classroom life, and organize the work in a way accessible for the children (McAfee et al., 2016). The timing guideline would ensure that the observations are appropriate for the children’s development and confirm the validity and reliability of information collected through observations.
To collect the information, teachers usually use ‘windows’: a combination of sources, methods, and context. To provide effectiveness in collecting, recording, and compiling assessment data, a combination of different techniques must be implied to the teacher’s work. The combination of systematic observation of children, collecting work products, structured performances, and dynamic assessment would provide an accurate and thorough insight into children’s learning progress and capabilities. To improve the observation and teaching process, the teacher might develop and use checklists modified to fit their needs. Checklists are a versatile way to document many aspects in several spheres and are easy and quick to work with (McAfee et al., 2016). To prevent oversimplifying behavior and learning with the use of checklists, teachers may introduce the use of video recording and photographs to use further as evidence of integration of learning (McAfee et al., 2016). The video records could also be used by teachers to self-reflect and analyze their professional skills. The collected data and work products could form personal portfolios to demonstrate the child’s unique perspectives as well as a group profile.
To ensure the validity and reliability of assessments, teachers need to double-check the assessments and collected evidence. Collected samples should represent assessment subjects and be balanced in terms of the use of different methods and contexts (McAfee et al., 2016). The information collected in the assessments should correspond to reality; evidently, the information collected on each of the children should be consistent throughout the use of different methods, sources, and contexts. The assessments could be repeated in the same methods but using different contexts to compare the results to previous ones and make notes on each child’s progress (McAfee et al.,2016). The collected data should give detailed information on each child, his pattern of development and interests, and correspond to other children’s, parents’, and teachers’ opinions on the child. Any inconsistency in the data should be additionally checked to identify possible concerns in the child’s behavior or development progress.
Maintaining a focus on the whole child is a priority in choosing tools, methods, and approaches to assessment in a kindergarten classroom. The assessments should be tailored to developing children’s skills crucial for the concept of the whole child. For instance, to improve children’s development in a social-emotional area, assessments should include working in groups or pairs. Physical education of children and assessments within the concept of the whole child should be aimed at a “health-enhancing level of physical fitness” (McAfee et al., 2016, p.89). Furthermore, to improve the children’s cognitive learning skills and use of language, tools like performance samples of storytelling, reading, or writing could be used in the classroom assessments.
In conclusion, this essay provided insight into various assessments and methods required to focus on the whole child. The classroom assessments should be organized and scheduled to provide valid information from observations. The teacher may use a combination of checklists and video recordings of assessments to obtain accurate information on the children and self-analyze the teacher’s professional skills. The collected data from the assessments should be reliable and consistent throughout different methods, contexts, and sources. The use of different tools, methods, and approaches to assessments help with improving the skills required within the concept of the ‘whole child’ approach.
McAfee, O., Leong, D. J., & Bodrova, E. (2016). Assessing and guiding young children’s development and learning (6th ed.). Denver, CO: Metropolitan State College.