Psychological Assessment in Early Childhood

Topics: Assessment, Jean Piaget, Child development Pages: 13 (4401 words) Published: July 10, 2013
A Critical Discussion of Psychological Assessment in Early Childhood


This essay follows on from a practical task completed by administering a few developmental tests to a child (age 4). The task was by no means a formal assessment in any way but rather a way for me to gain some first-hand experience and an idea as to what assessment of a young child entails as well as how to go about administering the tests.

This essay will contain a discussion pertaining to psychological assessment in early childhood. What it is, why it is done, the different types of developmental measures and examples of appropriate tests and shortcomings of assessment in a South African context will all be laid out in this essay. Furthermore ethical considerations as well as factors that must be taken into consideration when testing a child as well as how they play a role in the outcome of the tests will be discussed. Predictive validity will be mentioned and in light of each of the abovementioned points I will attempt to report on my practical task and the usefulness of assessment in early childhood.

The Rationale for Assessment in Early Childhood

It has been a long known and generally accepted idea that a child’s formative early years are of great importance to their healthy development. The growth that occurs during these younger years has a large impact on later life development.

The measure of individual intelligence can be used to get an idea of a person’s level of intelligence in general. In early childhood assessment the goal is to gather information and an understanding of that information in a way that will aid the child’s development as well as capitalize on their natural abilities (Foxcroft and Roodt, 2009). It can be a valuable tool when helping a child perform to the best of his/her ability.

In cases of poor scholastic performance the undertaking of tasks designed to shed light on the levels of general intelligence can help arrest development problems-if any (Foxcroft and Roodt, 2009). The ability to pick up on these difficulties at the earliest possible age is important because the sooner a problem is identified the sooner an intervention may be put into place to assist the child.

Taking into account the South African history of apartheid and inequality between races the effects thereof in the fields of development of children are still felt long after the apartheid regime ended. May children are still coming from backgrounds that are disadvantaged, with a lack of access to the necessary and even basic resources. If there are no ways to assess these children, who are now at risk, they may fail to reach milestones that are key to normal and healthy development at a later stage in their lives (Foxcroft and Roodt, 2009).

In South Africa, the measures used are based on upon the psychometric model of testing. The premise of the model being that the assumption that the individuals ability to complete a range of tasks that require the application of intelligence will be an indicator of the individuals level of general intelligence. These measures are made up of various tasks that are linked to various cognitive abilities (Foxcroft & Roodt, 2009).

The focus of assessment is not necessarily exclusive to the cognitive development of the child but also extends to the levels of physical, social and emotional development. This being a much more comprehensive assessment that shows the bigger picture as such and gives far better insight into the child’s development on a holistic level (Foxcroft & Roodt, 2009). The idea behind this comprehensive assessment method is that a problem identified in one area may have an effect on the development of the other areas, so it is clear that these aspects are not occurring in a vacuum and are therefore not mutually exclusive.

Outlining Developmental Measures

Developmental measures are split into two categories namely screening or diagnostic measures. A...

References: 1. Foxcroft, C. & Roodt, G. (2009). Introduction to psychological assessment in the South African context (3rd ed.). Cape Town: Oxford University Press.
2. Meisels, S.J. & Atkins-Burnett, S. (2000). The elements of early childhood assessment. In J.P. Shonkoff & S.J. Meisels (Eds.). Handbook of early childhood intervention (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press (pp. 231-257). © Cambridge University Press – reproduced with permission from DALRO. Located in UNISA PYC4807 Tutorial Letter 103/0/2013.
3. UNISA. (2013). Psychological Assessment Tutorial Letter 101/0/2013.
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