Early childhood education assessment tools

Assessment tools are not the ultimate answer to tracking children’s development, however, both formal and informal assessment tools can help to understand a child’s relative development.

Assessments are a useful tool to help educators determine if young children are making progress and discover if they are being taught in a way that makes sense for their unique learning styles. Both formal and informal screening techniques exist, and it is often a good idea to make use of both types of assessments in order to truly understand the needs, challenges, and strengths of each individual child.

Here are a number of early childhood education assessment tools that can be used to better assess the progress of the children in your care:

1. Observation

While basic observation may seem like an obvious method of assessment, you must take a strategic approach to watching and documenting young children. Observing a child within the context of your daily childcare center activities and routines can offer valuable information on the child’s development, interests, and individual needs. For example – do they initiate interaction with others? Do they struggle with fine motor skills when attempting to make a craft? It’s important to record these interactions and activities over time to develop a complete view of the child’s skills and abilities, rather than just a one-time observation. Through strategic observation, you can begin to notice patterns and determine how activities and routines can be adapted to meet a child’s needs.

Kids reading a book together

2. Standardized tests

Standardized tests are an early childhood education assessment tool that can be used to compare a child to the average child at the same stage of development. There are a number of standardized tests available for educators to use, including government-regulated testing as well as tests designed by notable early childhood educators and researchers. Our post on the history of early childhood education explains different early childhood education curricula and approaches available and the influences that have shaped the field into what it is today. One of the biggest downfalls of standardized testing, however, is the fact that they must be administered under the same conditions with the same directions as the original test was performed. Additionally, many standardized tests do not take into account regional, cultural and economic variations that may contribute to a child’s developmental progress.

3. Running records

As an educator, you may choose to document a child’s progress over a period of time by recording specific events, behaviors, and successes to gain insight into how a child is developing. Running records are especially helpful in analyzing social skill development or behavior concerns in young children. Running records also can be narrowly focused on a specific activity or subject area if necessary. It’s essential to be objective in your records, and include as much detail as possible to help you assess the meaning of the behavior at a later date.

Children building towers with wooden blocks

HiMama offers an excellent way for educators to document the progress of a child in order to plot their development over time. Our childcare app is simple to use and takes just seconds to enter the important information you need to track progress, make notes and record milestones, and then report these findings to parents. Plus, we have assessments developed by Pearson (Ounce Scale & Work Sampling System) built right into our platform, which are compatible with many QRIS programs.

To learn more about using HiMama to track the progress of children at your child care center or early learning academy, contact us today for a free demo of our innovative software!

Ron Spreeuwenberg

Ron is the Co-Founder & CEO of HiMama, where he leads all aspects of a social purpose business that helps early childhood educators improve learning outcomes for children.


  • Elias says:

    Well and helped me to understand tools for early childhood programme assessment

  • Sedi says:

    Thanks for the info and u r doing well

  • Joy says:

    I enjoyed reading about assessment tools. They were very informative and educative.

  • Anh Vo says:

    Thank you very much for your information. I really enjoy reading about the 3 assessment tools above. I like the observation tool the most because I think observation is a powerful assessment tool that offers teachers insight into the processes our learners employ when engaging in learning experiences.