Progress reports can be a daunting task to both children and educators. For educators, it’s a time to buckle down and really think of all of the skills each child is learning. Are they really confident with counting to 10? Do they know how to zip up the zipper on the coat? Equally as scary for children, they may not be interested to show you this skill or may be quite intimated to show that they know how to count to 10 or zip up their zipper in front of their teacher when they know they’re being graded, or worse, in front of the whole class!
So, what’s the technique for educators to ensure children are retaining the skills and knowledge learned in your classroom and fostering a safe and welcomed environment for children to showcase their skills and knowledge? Through natural learning and assessment!
Before we hop into how to track your children’s learning and development there are a few things to note on progress. First, not every child develops the same. Each child is unique and may develop at different paces. It’s important to remember that not every child will have a check in each box on their report card, and that’s ok! This doesn’t mean the child is failing by any means, it simply means this is an area to work or focus on to increase the likelihood of the skill being shown.
Bonus: We’ve created a sample template below to get you started on your progress reports.
It’s also important to consider what areas you should focus on- social, emotional, academic, cognitive, fine motor, gross motor, literacy, the list goes on! Let’s narrow it down to a few essentials and then we can scope it out from there.
Which Areas Should You Report On?
There are three major areas that should be reported on when it comes to your progress report: The child’s social progress, emotional progress, cognitive progress, gross and fine motor progress and language and literacy progress. These are the building blocks of a successful individual in a classroom that is supportive and nurturing. Think of the last time you tried to solve a really difficult problem with your team, working your way through the problem by keeping calm, communicating clearly with your team and thinking logically about a solution are all fundamental aspects of problem-solving that you learned at a very young age. Hence, why they should be the main focal point for your progress report. Let’s dive into these areas a bit deeper to find out specifically what each area should focus on.
Documenting social progress is vital as it helps children resolve conflict, helps them establish a positive attitude and strengthen language and communication skills.
When it comes to social progress, here are a few areas to consider reporting on:
- Respecting authority
- Participating in group activities
- Following directions and classroom routines
- Speaking clearly and responding to questions
Emotional progress is equally as important as it helps with ongoing relationships with peers and adults as well as positive self esteem.
When it comes to emotional progress, report on skills such as:
- Ability to recognize and regulate their own emotions
- Shows they have self-esteem and recognizes their abilities.
- Holds a positive attitude towards learning such as persistence, engagement, and curiosity
Cognitive progress is the building blocks of learning. Skills such as attention, memory, and critical thinking are a few examples of areas you should consider.
When it comes to cognitive progress, you should focus on skills such as:
- Understanding the concept of numbers and number operations.
- Ability to identify and create patterns in their environment.
- Describing and determining quantity and ordinal number and position.
Physical development can be linked to other areas of development such as cognitive thinking, sensory development and social progress.
When it comes to physical progress, you should focus on skills such as:
- Gross and fine motor skills
- Independence with self help skills (like zippers and buttons)
- Hand-eye coordination
Language and Literacy Progress
Language and literacy skills range from learning to talk, listen and read during the first few years of childhood. Children who come from home that do not speak the local language or children who speak more than one language will develop at a different pace than those who speak the local language or come from a home that speak one language.
When it comes to language and literacy progress, you should focus on skills such as:
- Able to ask questions verbally and non-verbally (ASL)
- Verbal and non-verbal communication
- Has an interest in books and literacy
These skills above can be broken down further based on your state or provincial framework. Consider each child’s development as well. Not every child will be on the same page and it’s important to recognize this early- before any progress reports are done.
The Letter Lineup
It’s up to you how you want to document the learning in your children. Typically a scale is used to see if a skill is present (P), emerging (E), or not yet developed (N). Keep in mind that some children may exhibit a skill one day, and not show it again or for a long time, that skill would be considered emerging.
How Often Should You Issue a Preschool Report Card?
In the early years, development happens quickly and children are always reaching new milestones. Therefore, your reporting should be nearly real-time as you update parents on the skills their child is working towards.
Luckily, there are ways to simplify this reporting through software, reducing stress on educators who often find writing report cards a daunting task!
If you want to have a formal progress report for each child, quarterly or semi annual is a good cadence to report on children’s development. Creating report cards takes a lot of time, and producing a progress report too frequently may go unread by families if they get fatigued.
A Note on Assessments
When creating your report cards it’s important to leave yourself an ample amount of time to complete them. You want to make sure you’re not up late the night before they’re due wondering if little Luca can tie his shoe or not! When you observe a skill in a child, make a note of it- either on the paper or using a software such as HiMama.
On the other end of things, you don’t want to sit each child down and have them go through the list of skills to see if they can do each one- this intense one on one testing scenario isn’t natural and doesn’t yield good results. Not to mention it can be quite scary for young children to be tested one on one!
For more in-depth reports, educators use HiMama to review observations and milestones over a longer period of time, adding further comments and suggestions for further development and skill-building. Interested in joining the family? Learn more about our preschool assessment tool
HiMama has created a sample progress report template below for typically developing preschoolers (ages 2.5-5 years) you can use in your classroom.