Children and the Preschool Assessment

Two girls playing with playdough at preschool
Sean Justice

Children can start preschool at any age, usually around age two or three, usually finishing up around age four or five. While there is usually only three years difference between the youngest preschool child and the oldest preschool child, they are three important, critical years for all different types of growth — think about what is "normal" for a 2-year-old and what is "normal" for a 5-year-old, from basic academics to physical capabilities, from emotional growth to social skills.

Internal Preschool Assessments

To offer assistance, guidance, and a baseline for teachers, parents, guardians, pediatricians, and any other medical or education professionals that your preschooler may encounter, many preschools often conduct internal preschool assessments.

Unlike standardized tests that children may be exposed to when they get older, preschool assessments don't have any wrong or right answers.

And while there are standard tests available to preschool teachers and early childhood development experts, many preschools and daycares have their own assessments and qualifiers that they use.

Preschool teachers and early childhood development experts usually use some form of preschool assessment to evaluate how a preschool student is doing in various skill areas including:

  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Fine motor skills
  • Gross motor skills
  • How a child is able to transition between activities
  • Knowledge of personal information, including address, phone number, and names of parents and/or caregivers
  • Recognition of colors
  • Recognition of letters
  • Recognition of numbers
  • Recognition of shapes
  • Social skills, including the ability to cooperate, take turns, make friends, etc.
  • Speech skills including articulation and how well the child expresses him or herself

Depending on the method used, the assessment can be formal or informal, but in most cases, your child won't notice anything different going on as they are usually conducted in the course of classroom activities.

Still, it is important that the school and/or teachers or administrator at the preschool or daycare let the parents or caregivers of the child know that the test is being given, what the results are, and what the results mean.

The two latter items are often discussed in an individual parent-teacher conference, although that isn't required. Results could also come in the form of a letter or other documentation.

Meeting the Needs of Students

Based on the results of the assessment, teachers can fine-tune their lessons and instructions to better suit the needs of the child. If there is a deficiency in any area, teachers can also provide parents or caregivers with the necessary resources to help the child improve or work on their skills.

Alternatively, if a child shows great strength in a particular area, results of an assessment can identify where a child is especially strong, and give parents ideas on how to encourage a child's continued growth.

If your child is being assessed in his or her preschool or daycare, make sure you are able to see a copy of the results and, are able to talk to the teacher or early childhood education expert about what they mean.

If you have any other additional questions about the results, reach out to the evaluator or, your child's pediatrician. Both of these people will be able to provide you with additional resources, information, and help if needed.

Formal forms of assessment include Developmental Indicators for the Assessment of Learning (DIAL), DIAL-3, authentic, anecdotal, Preschool COR (Child Observation Record) (primarily used by schools that employ the HighScope Method), Creative Curriculum Continuum, and the Meisels Work Sampling System.

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Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
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By Amanda Rock
Amanda Rock, mom of three, has spent more than a decade of her professional career writing and editing for parents and children.