Assessment: An Informative Tool
Submitted by Rebekka Cleland — Early Childhood Music & Movement Coordinator
University of Delaware Community Music School
Published in ECMMA Perspectives — “Assessment” Issue
Volume 4 Number 2 Spring 2009
Assessment is a vital informative tool in the world of early childhood musicand movement, allowing teachers to educate parents and caregivers about developmental music learning. In your communities, assessment can facilitate communication both by inducing you to make your program goals explicit at the outset of classes, and also by providing data for you to share during parent-teacher conferences.
To make your program goals explicit to your parents and caregivers host an orientation meeting for them at the beginning of your program. Parent orientation meetings serve several important purposes. First, these meetings provide parents and caregivers the opportunity to meet you, the teacher, face to face and become acquainted with other families within the musical community. These “parents only” meetings allow parents and caregivers to give you their undivided attention. Second, orientation meetings provide the opportunity for you to discuss the upcoming schedule of classes and distribute materials and resources. Third, an orientation meeting can be used to educate parents and caregivers about how early childhood music classes are structured to meet the musical needs of young children. Often, parents are in need of accurate information on musical development in early childhood. Take time to elaborate on how young children move through musically developmental stages and refer to your own personal experiences of children in your classes. With information from research journals and other articles, you can present parents and caregivers with the most accurate information on the musical and movement behaviors of young children. By providing them with this information before music classes begin, they will be more likely to understand why music classes are structured as they are, what their roles are within the class, and what to expect from their young child.
It is important for early childhood music and movement educators to track how our young pupils progress in their musical development. Take time to observe, document, and maintain careful records of the musical growth of the young children in your classes. This process will help you to communicate information to parents who have a natural desire to know how their children progress musically. Informal conversation throughout the term provides opportunities to discuss children’s musical responses in both class and home contexts. However, scheduling parent-teacher conferences may provide a more formal, direct approach. Consider reserving the last class of the term, or set aside an evening, to talk with each family. Ten-minute meetings afford time for you to share your observations in a one-on-one conversation with parents or caregivers. These educational sessions also allow an opportunity for parents and caregivers to ask questions to further clarify their child’s musical and movement progress.
Assessment may be used as a means of communication with parents and caregivers about music and movement in early childhood. Through assessment, a foundation for knowledge and understanding is built, creating support and advocacy for music in the life of the young child.