There are many methods for monitoring children and young adults. These include observations, written records, assessments framework, information shared with work colleagues and children’s families, standard measurements.
For teaching assistants and practitioners should be essential understanding first the purpose of the observations they are going to make as part of their role. In fact, the data recorded have an exceptional value and require to be shared with a supervisor or with the class teacher who will eventually report the facts provided to children’s parents and carers. Since each child is unique and has a particular set of abilities and talents, observations in different circumstances should be made to capture every particular trait that a child may possess. Observing what children choose to do and understanding the reason, what assets they appreciate more, and what resources they enjoy during the play activities, provides early years practitioners and carers with a solid amount of information about children as individuals. This observational approach is very well described in the “Development Matters in the Early Years Foundation Stage” document which highly supports the development and practice of systematic observations.
The assessments should be made to keep track of the progress of children’s development. There are standard measurements that can be used by early years practitioners to determine the physical and cognitive growth and development of a child. According to the Early Years Foundation Stage Statutory Assessment there are two main types of evaluations: on-going assessments and summative assessments. The on-going assessments occur when professionals make day by day choices about what information the child has acquired and what he can do. This type of assessment is also called ‘formative’ since it informs about the next steps that could be arranged with the child and his/her guardians. According to Revised EYFS, the summative assessments should be made twice. Firstly, this assessment takes place when a child is between 2 and 3 years of age (parents and practitioners use the data gained in order to recognise the qualities and the learning needs of the young child); the second assessment happens towards the conclusion of the EYFS when children are in their final term of the reception class. This assessment should sum up entirety all the distinctive data from the past on-going assessments that have already been made about the child.
There are also standard measurements, such as school tests and cognitive aptitude tests; these can display the children’s academic ability and their skills at learning and memorising information already taught and may be used to compare outcomes between a larger population of same-age children. For example, there are health assessments that can measure head circumference, weight, height and sensory functioning. Educational psychologists may use other reasoning tests to assess children’s intellectual age in contrast to their chronological age.
It is very important to share information with colleagues and parents that enable you to monitor children in the best effective way. In fact, colleagues’ expertise and the advice from parents and primary carers who certainly know the child can be very useful, especially when planning social activities and academic success for children with special educational needs and learning disabilities. When teaching assistants are concerned about a child’s development it is always good to ask and share information.