What to Include in a Preschool Assessment Portfolio

Close-up of young children working on crafts
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A preschool portfolio can make the most of your students' "See what I can do!" enthusiasm. By strategically choosing pieces your students create, you capture examples of their capabilities and accomplishments over the school year to share with their parents.

1 Authentic Assessments

Formal assessments have their place in education, but authentic assessments take snapshots of preschool skills that take place naturally while children learn and play. Look at literacy skills and book knowledge by watching the preschoolers during library time to see how they hold books and pretend to read, for example. To look at motor skills, check out their dance moves as they wiggle along at song time. Watch your students making patterns with blocks and creating art with colored shape patterns to test math skills. Fill your portfolios with these real-time learning snapshots to create a clear look at your students' skills.

2 Highlighting Skills

It's tempting to start filling the portfolios right away, but you need a clear idea of what you want to show first. Choosing random pieces of student work won't give a clear picture of what each child can do. Your preschool curriculum and learning objectives are a good place to start when choosing skills to show in the portfolio. You'll likely include literacy, math, language, motor skills and social skills. Match each area with an activity that shows the child's skill. Have each preschooler cut along different lines is a way to show fine motor skills, for example.

3 Progress Over Time

Formal assessments usually only happen once or twice a year, but portfolios keep a record for the whole year. Ongoing assessments can include having each child do the same thing at regular times during the school year. For example, you can have the children write their names or draw pictures of themselves at the beginning of each month. At the beginning of the year, you'll probably see blobs or heads with random arms sticking out the sides with no bodies. Names might be missing letters or look more like scribbles than words. Over the year, you'll see how each preschooler progresses. By the end, you'll see more names that are legible and self-portraits that include a body, facial features, hair and legs.

4 Work Samples

Place pieces of work the students create in preschool in the portfolios. Show literacy skills with journal entries or science understanding with drawings the students made of an experiment. If a project won't fit in a portfolio, snap a photo of it instead. Letting them choose some of their work that goes into the portfolio helps preschoolers feel like they have a part in its creation, and they learn to compare their own work over the year and decide what is worthy of showing off.

5 Teacher Documentation

You won't always have a finished product from preschool activities. In science, the kids might look at rocks using magnifying glasses. Building block towers develops fine motor skills. Group games develop social skills. You can include what you see during those activities by writing notes to describe how each child acts. Checklists or rubrics also give you a physical component that includes your observations on child progress.

Based in the Midwest, Shelley Frost has been writing parenting and education articles since 2007. Her experience comes from teaching, tutoring and managing educational after school programs. Frost worked in insurance and software testing before becoming a writer. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education with a reading endorsement.