Recently I had the chance to peek at my husband’s kindergarten report card. Now that LifeWays is delving into the document side of child care, I was interested and encouraged to see how the youngest MPS students were evaluated back in the eighties. There were no grades, simply a sliding scale assessment based on physical, social and intellectual development. The scale was very similar to the charts I am familiarizing myself with at LifeWays, acknowledging the range of capacities and the typical progression of the young child. The most intriguing thing about this report card was, surprisingly, how the teacher’s comments about this five year old boy still seemed to apply to the man I know today. Furthermore, our son shares many of these traits and they were observed by his kindergarten teacher.
Every parent can attest to the fact that even a newborn has his own characteristics, his own spirit, or self. Sometimes the birth itself seems to be an expression of the baby’s individuality. Gradually, as the child grows older these traits reveal themselves more and more. Some are apparently hereditary while others seem mysteriously distinct. Parents of multiple children often marvel at how different their children are. How interesting that one child can be fearless and bold while her brother is so cautious and calculating. The interplay of heredity and spirit/essence/personal nature has been studied and explored by scientists, spiritualist and laymen for ages.
As LifeWays educators, we have the unique perspective of watching the child grow and develop from a very young age. We take a holistic approach to “assessment” based on an interest in who the child is, personally. Long before I look at the child development charts, I document observations about how each child speaks, sleeps, plays, listens, moves, etc. as well as my impressions about his physical and personal characteristics. I review and update my observations regularly, trying my best to keep up with the children’s rapid growth.
Each development reveals something of the child’s own inner nature. It seems appropriate that the tentative, observant baby takes her first steps ever so carefully and intentionally. I am constantly inspired by their personal triumphs. The child who was once finicky at meal time now asks for seconds of elaborate, vegetable saturated meals. The tidy, meticulous child discovers the joy of digging and the dirt and proudly displays his mud-covered hands. Whether it’s learning to walk or coping with frustration, each individual takes it on in their own, unique way. I think our role is to embrace who they are, support who they are becoming and watch in awe as they fulfill their destinies.