Kei Tua o te Pae

Kei Tua o te Pae/Assessment for Learning: Early Childhood Exemplars is a best-practice guide that will help teachers continue to improve the quality of their teaching.

The exemplars are a series of books that will help teachers to understand and strengthen children's learning. It also shows how children, parents and whānau can contribute to this assessment and ongoing learning.

We are making improvements to our download-to-print functionality. So if you want a printed copy there are PDF versions available at the bottom of the main cover page.

Book 8: Assessment for infants and toddlers – He aromatawai kōhungahunga, tamariki

This book explores assessment and what it might look like for infants and toddlers in the context of Te Whāriki. The book also includes ideas that are relevant to children of all ages in early childhood settings in Aotearoa New Zealand.

"Assessments are a tool for social thinking and action. We suggest that in an early childhood or school setting this social thinking and action is of a particular kind and has a particular purpose: mutual feedback and dialogue about learning."

Cowie and Carr, 2004

Frequently, teachers cannot be certain of the nature of children’s learning, especially that of very young children. Infants’ and toddlers’ working theories about the world change rapidly. Their discoveries are often unrecognised by others, and they may communicate in ways that are different from those of their older peers. Communication with families and whānau is especially important when assessing infants and toddlers, as are intuitive practitioners who come to know the children really well.

Infants and toddlers often appear to be attending to several events at the same time. Barbara Rogoff (2003) suggests that this may be specifically encouraged in some cultures. She describes a twelve- month-old Mayan child who “attended skilfully to three events at once” (page 321), playing with things in a jar with his sister, whistling on a toy whistle, and intently watching a truck passing in the street. Noticing, recognising, and responding to such complexity relies on sensitive observations, understanding the nature of learning for very young children, and knowing the child and the curriculum well. It also requires us to use our intuition and to be open to multiple possibilities and pathways for learning.

Some key features of assessments for and with infants and toddlers have emerged from the exemplars. They are:

  • reciprocal and responsive relationships with people, places, and things;
  • involving families and whānau in assessment;
  • families and whānau becoming members of the early childhood learning community.

In this section