It’s spring, which means it’s time for end of year assessments in schools all across the country. This year, I’m making no exception for Joey.
Typically, I’m constantly assessing Joey’s skills throughout our sessions so that I can plan our next activities to target what he’s ready to learn next. This spring, since Joey is going into kindergarten in the fall, I thought it was time to get some hard data on more isolated academic skills.
Assessing Joey is difficult merely because of his difficulties with his gross motor movements. He is unable to easily answer me verbally during an oral assessment, he is unable to hold a pencil to draw a picture of what he’s thinking, or circle a letter on a page. Even when we ask him to use the eye gaze, he has difficulty selecting his intended icon, and can take multiple tries before he finally lands on the desired button. So while many kids could fly through the assessment activities and be done with them, it’s a more arduous task for Joey.
And yet – it’s Joey, and his never-give-up personality, mixed with his I-love-a-challenge spirit somehow made the assessments seem like no big deal. In fact, when I began assessing his letter knowledge by holding up two different letters and asking him to look at a specific one, he decided this was too easy. He turned away from my hand-written letters and went into the keyboard on his device – the QWERTY keyboard with all 26 letters and 10 numbers. He used that to find each letter I asked. Who needs silly index cards?
And that pesky problem with not always hitting the correct button? Joey doesn’t stop trying until he’s selected the right one. Then he selects that one twice, stops, and looks at me, smiling. Once we got into a rhythm it was easy to tell when he knew the letter and was just hitting the wrong button because he was hitting each button around the one he wanted. Sure, there were times when he selected a series of letters all over the keyboard. Those times I knew he wasn’t sure what the letter was and was just guessing.
So what does Joey know? So far I’ve only had a chance to assess letter name and sound knowledge.
He knows almost all of his letters names, but sometimes get confused with the B, F, and K. See how they look similar – they each of something in the middle of the straight back stick?
He knows 21 out of 26 of his letter sounds (assessed by saying the sound and asking him to select which letter makes that sound).
When given a word and a picture and asked to identify the first letter of that word, Joey was able to do this for all letters except X.
All these skills are right on track for a typically developing beginning kindergartener. I don’t think any of us are surprised, because Joey shows us almost every day how quickly he learns and picks up on information. Now we need to figure out how best for Joey to continue to learn and show the world what he can do.