Reflecting and Interpreting for Daily and Weekly Planning

Two teachers planning and going over notes.

This is different from reflecting, interpreting, and responding in the moment. With education leaders’ support, education staff regularly set aside time to review ongoing child assessment information on each infant and toddler to plan for individualization. Staff can use their program’s child assessment tool along with the ELOF to help them make sense of the information they have collected. This information informs plans that are based on the program’s curriculum (and Individualized Family Service Plan for children with diagnosed disabilities) and guides how staff support each child’s development and learning on a daily or weekly basis. In group care settings, teachers and family child care providers might develop plans for each child or small group(s) of children. Home visitors plan with parents to support their children during home visits and group socializations.

As part of reflection and interpretation, it is important for teachers and family child care providers to talk with families about their observations of their children at home and in the community. What do children do and communicate? What objects, materials, and experiences keep their children’s attention and focus? During these conversations, staff may also learn about families’ cultures, including their values, expectations, and goals for their children’s development and learning. This information can help education staff interpret what they learn from ongoing child assessment to individualize care.

Older infants typically have a 10- to 20-word vocabulary in their home language or use 10 to 20 signs consistently by 18 months. For a child who does not, staff may need to adjust communication strategies and learning experiences to strengthen language development. Further observation, conversations with her family, and other consultation may be necessary to determine next steps.

Home visitors can partner with parents to observe and learn about children’s development and learning, then build on children’s interests and address the children’s strengths and needs. As a result, children are more likely to be engaged in experiences that support learning across the ELOF domains. For example, in the story about the toddler who likes bunnies and books about bunnies, the home visitor can encourage the parents to point out how print works in the book and talk about bunnies, building the child’s vocabulary. In addition, the home visitor can suggest parents help their child count the carrots and other objects and animals in the book and explain how counting while reading books helps their child develop number sense.

Reflecting on and interpreting data for planning also helps staff consider:[3]

  • Ways to engage families in their child’s care
  • Whether they need more information about a child and when, where, and from whom to gather it
  • Whether to provide the same, similar, or different strategies and experiences related to particular goals. This is especially important when ongoing assessment information about a child suggests she may not be making progress toward goals as expected

Later in the afternoon, while all three children are napping, Lydia jots down a brief observation note about how Lin communicated her needs and how quickly Lin quieted when Lydia responded verbally to her whimpers. She reviews her other written observations on Lin and the social-emotional and language sections of her assessment tool to help her interpret the information she has so far. Lydia begins to work on a plan for Lin for the following week, using her curriculum’s scope and sequence. She looks for opportunities to encourage and support Lin’s vocalizations during indoor and outdoor play and to respond quickly to signs of distress during other transitions. She also jots down a reminder to share today’s observation with Lin’s mother and get input on the plan.

[3]Dichtelmiller, The Power of Assessment, 183; New Jersey Council for Young Children, New Jersey Birth to Three Early Learning Standards (Trenton, NJ: New Jersey Department of Education, 2013), 35, 59.