A report for a child in the kindergarten is a recording of the teacher’s observation of the child within a sensible framework. It is also an attempt to describe the unfolding nature of the child.
In the process of evaluation the teacher has to be very alert and has to work with extreme care to avoid any slip into the conventional mould of categorizing or classifying children according to a set of criteria. It is most important as teachers that we capture the subtle yet unique aspects of the young children’s dynamic selves as evident in the time spent in the school environment, and communicate the essence of their nature. In this context, let us look at some of the intentions in writing a report and the role of the report as a communication to parents.
Firstly, the report would help parents get a sense of their child in an environment very different from the home. The early years in school form the first formal learning environment for the child. It is also the first time the child is part of a large group of similar-age children. Secondly, through the report the parents receive an objective account of their child’s activities and engagements in school. Implicit in the report is the description of the ‘right environment’ for a young learning mind. Thirdly, it is hoped that the parents may get a view of what are the expectations of children of this particular age group, and they also may understand how they could actively work towards making the environment at home compatible with the school. Lastly, the parents would acquire help from the teacher in the form of recommendations and suggestions which serve toguide them through the growth of their child.
With these intentions the report needs to be descriptive. It must be a comprehensive report based on observation of the child in different environments and engaging in different activities. Care needs to be taken not to be comparative or judgmental in the reading of the child. The comments need to be tentative and not conclusive as one cannot be too certain while making inferences based on children’s behavior. Keeping in mind that a child is in a dynamic state, the attempt must be to write about him/her as a changing, flowingentity.
The kindergarten child, in terms of Piaget’s theory of cognitive development, is at the sensorimotor stage — the stage when sensory and motor exploration help him to learn about the world. Key elements of this exploration would necessarily require a study of the child’s observation ability, alertness, awareness of surroundings, sense of wonder and curiosity, listening and ability to work practically through situations. It is also a time when the child is coming to understand and acquire a sense of identity and this is a period of immense social and emotional growth. The child is grappling in his journey from the world ofthe self to that of a social being.
Keeping all this in mind the report is formatted as follows:
1. The personality of the child. (This is a note on the child’s disposition and emotional state. It includes the child’s attitude to school and routine and hisrelationship with peers in terms of participation, initiative and willingness.)
- Zee comes cheerfully to school and greets her teachers with a bright smile. She leaves her things in class and runs off to catch a little game with her friends outdoors before the bell goes.
- Tina has learnt to express her needs and difficulties clearly and appropriately. When someone is assertive in a group and she disagrees, she is able to stand up to them with an emphatic ‘no’.
- He does not give in easily to the demands of his peers. He confidently stands up and asks for his rights.
- Her interest wanes when an activity has to be done in a group and she tends to get playful. She prefers to complete a project by herself.
- He tries to talk himself out of a tricky situation with his teacher but his own sense of fairness and reasoning stops this process midway.
2. An understanding of the interactions of the child with the adults and other children.
- Her social circle has widened. She has begun playing with the boys in her class. She shares a warm relationship with adults in the class. She always communicates her difficulties with her teacher.
- He seems interested in people, feels connected and has an affection for them. He is concerned when any of his classmates is in pain or is injured and will help them. He is very observant of his classmates and can report coherently what most of his friends are doing at any given point of time.
3. The cognitive development of the child as seen in her observation, perceptions, listening and thinking strategies, handling of tasks and material and uniqueness of learning styles.
- Learning by watching others is a strategy Lee adopts successfully.
- He explores actively his natural environment and observes phenomena he comes across with a keen eye. He makes good connections and infers well.
- She is quick to follow concepts and directions. She listens carefully to instructions and responds accordingly. She is confident of whatever she undertakes and works independently. She completes a given task and does not hesitate to ask for help whenever required.
- Her interest in books continues as she spends a lot of time browsing through the books in the library corner. She is quick to notice the change of books and immediately settles down to browse through them.
- His quality of listening is selective. He will listen only to what interests him. He has to be reminded very often that he is in a group and needs to restrain himself. Sometimes this lack of listening is because he thinks he knows it already.
4. The communication skills of the child in terms of clarity in speech and language ability.
- During circle time, she occasionally participates by sharing news. She has not been regular in bringing things for ‘Show and Tell’. Participating in the programme may help her gain confidence in presentation.
- Tarika is articulate. She has started participating in class discussions. She shares news with much enthusiasm. She enjoys the ‘guest’ assemblies and asks pertinent questions to the speaker.
- He is an articulate child who speaks fluently in English and also understands Tamil. His speech is clear and coherent. He expresses his thoughts and ideas clearly. He is regular in bringing items for ‘Show and Tell’. He speaks confidently to the group. He also listens to his friends while they are speaking.
- His communication is largely in Hindi. He does not attempt to speak much in English or Tamil. He is very comfortable in Hindi and can speak in long coherent sentences. His face is very expressive and often conveys what he feels. Long conversations bore him as also listening to ‘Show and Tell’.
5. The physical development of the child as in the fine and gross motor skills. (The points noted are precision, stamina, control and coordination and sense of balance. The health of the child as seen in the energy and activity levels is reported. The food habits of the child as observed during lunch arereferred to.)
- Active and energetic, Rohan enjoys being outdoors. He is agile on the jungle gym and runs very fast. He participates well in organised games. His motor coordination is good.
- Kavita takes long to finish her lunch. She seems to have strong reservations about some vegetables and food preparation. She is being helped to have all that is served without indulging in strong likes and dislikes.
6. The development of a child’s sense of aesthetics and order. (The child’s expression in his/her art work, in his approach in doing things and in his appreciation of people and things around. The child’s participation in such activities as classroom duties, taking care of personal belongings and classroommaterial, taking up a given task and completing it are also important.)
- Her creativity is expressed in her art work. Her work is meticulously done. She is innovative in her craft work.
- Farid is learning to take care of his belongings. Very often he misplaces his books and stationery. He is also yet to take responsibility for the classroom chores. He does not volunteer to do the classroom duties but when called upon by the teacher or friends, does a neat job.
Writing a report for the kindergarten child, while not an easy task, affords the teacher a good learning opportunity and helps him to reflect on a wide spectrum of questions and arrive at a meaningful understanding of children. The challenge for the teacher is to remain alert and watchful of the child in allsettings, from the lunch table to free play to communication skills.