Psychological Assessment of Children and Infants

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Essay on some of the theoretical aspects relating to the assessment of young children 1.Introduction - reasons and rationale for psychological assessment in early childhood The assessment of the development and learning of young children (two and a half to six years old) and infants (birth to approximately two years old), is a complex, lengthy, and often multi-professional process. Several factors, such as cultural differences, language barriers, accessibility to developmental tools such as books, television, toys, media, etc. and the accessibility to and functionality of social structures including friends, family, peer groups and the community influence the rate at which a child develops and learns. Consequently, assessment of infants, toddlers, and young children requires sensitivity to and knowledge of the child's background as well as knowledge of testing limitations and procedures applicable to young children. This essay addresses the reasons and rationale for psychological assessment of young children and infants. In addition, it also investigates the differences between tests for infants and preschoolers as well as the content areas of typical tests and provides examples of appropriate tests. Furthermore, the essay discusses the issues relating to the predictive validity of infant tests, the difficulties inherent in testing small children, factors that need to be considered when interpreting test results and ethical considerations in early childhood assessment. The above discussion incorporates the writer’s experiences in conducting a test on a five year old girl-child as well as the findings from this test to illustrate the theoretical principles discussed. The paper presents first a comprehensive theoretical discussion of the various headings and then provides a discussion of how theory was incorporated and applied in and to the assessment of the young child. 2.Reasons and rationale for psychological assessment in early childhood The psychological and developmental assessment of infants and young children provides a guideline against which to judge whether the child’s development and learning as well as behaviour and knowledge is age appropriate or not. It is therefore beneficial to assess children as early as possible, since the sooner a child’s difficulties or potential and/or suspected difficulties can be identified, the sooner appropriate interventions can be implemented to assist the child. Assessing young children and gathering information in an organized and systematic manner about their development and learning can serve a variety of purposes. These include identifying appropriate early intervening supports and determining the child’s eligibility for early intervention services, identifying children for health or special services, screening for instructional needs and making placement or promotion decisions. Curriculum related purposes include assisting with individual curriculum goal-planning, helping in instruction and curriculum decisions and facilitating the monitoring of curricular progress towards early learning standards. Other purposes include facilitating tracking individual and group progress, tracking and promoting children's learning and development, assisting a child with assessing his or her own progress, determining progress on significant developmental achievements and documenting responses to instruction as well as tutoring, therapy and intervention. In addition, assessments allows for evaluating program impact and outcomes, monitoring trends and evaluating the effects of programs on child outcomes, monitoring the accountability of public funds, diagnosing learning and teaching problems and serving as a basis for reporting to parents, educators and care givers. Psychological testing is used widely in the community and amongst children. Testing can provide information about how a child, young person or adult approaches a particular task, and can highlight areas of strengths and areas...
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