Working with children in their early years is an extremely important role. Worldwide, no matter which curriculum or framework you use, you must have the ability to accurately track the development progress of the individual children in your care.

Education is now moving away from excessive levels of assessment paperwork, but a child’s progress must be recorded for reference and to enable you to instantly recognise if additional support, focus, or reflection is required. Children develop and learn at different rates and in different ways. Their development does not happen in a neat and orderly fashion, and it should never be approached as a simple, tick box exercise.

Most curriculums and frameworks will include some form of progress tracking and use terms such as milestones, benchmarks, or checkpoints. This tracking process should be used regularly to monitor development.

A section in the Development Matters documentation explains:

“The observation checkpoints can help you to notice whether a child is at risk of falling behind in their development. You can make all the difference by taking action quickly, using your professional judgement and your understanding of child development. By monitoring the child’s progress more closely, you can make the right decisions about what sort of extra help is needed. Through sensitive dialogue with parents, you can begin to understand the child better and also offer helpful suggestions to support the home learning environment.

This can stop gaps in learning from opening and widening. Gaps by the end of the early years will, on average, double by the end of primary schooling. The early years are the crucial years for making a difference.

Assessment: checking what children have learnt:

  • Assessment is about noticing what children can do and what they know. It is not about lots of data and evidence.
  • Effective assessment requires practitioners to understand child development. Practitioners also need to be clear about what they want children to know and be able to do.
  • Accurate assessment can highlight whether a child has a special educational need and needs extra help.
  • Before assessing children, it’s a good idea to think about whether the assessments will be useful.
  • Assessment should not take practitioners away from the children for long periods of time.”

It is important for practitioners to step back, pause and reflect and create a summative assessment that contains an overview of the child’s development, learning and progress.

Practitioners need to consider an individual child’s overall development within the curriculum aspects and not just rely on matching every element in a list of statements to report on a child’s progress. It is important to take a holistic, professional informed view to determine whether the child is on track or developing more slowly or more quickly in particular areas which can then be communicated in a summary form to parents, other agencies, or professionals involved with the child.

Checkpoints in the ILD have been developed for you to use your professional judgement to score a child against each area of your chosen curriculum. A view of the outcomes related to the curriculum areas, according to the child’s age, is available to help you make your decision while you write the checkpoints. Writing a comment for each area is optional but is a good record of how the child is progressing.

Being able to share the checkpoints on the Parent Portal along with the parent being able to post a comment directly back to you will help with your parental engagement and is a great record of you keeping your parents up to date with their child’s progress. It encourages a supportive partnership with parents by working closely with them and sharing information and involving them in their child’s learning and development.

The checkpoints will then be included in the individual child’s timeline along with their observations, next steps, reflections, focus requirements and interventions giving you a full record of how you understand the child as an individual and their progression pathways for the future.

Even though checkpoints are for the individual child, the ILD also offers checkpoint analysis reporting, for you to track groups, classes or individual children across the year highlighting where children are on track or needing extra focus requirements.