The Junior Kindergarten Summary is an important document, as it is the first formal written assessment that parents may receive about their child. In saying that, there also should be no surprises when they read the report. Part of the reporting process in Kindergarten is to provide ongoing assessment in an informal basis when necessary through notes, phone calls, or updates during face-to-face interaction at entry or dismissal times. If you feel that a report you have written may have information that would be of specific concern to the parent, you may want to give a “heads up” phone call before your reports go home in February. If however, you have shared information with parents/guardians regarding a child’s struggles or difficulties in adjusting to the program, then the report will be of no surprise and act as a record of the child’s development at this time, which may be referred to if struggles continue in the next year or two.
The Summary includes three broad areas to provide information for:
1) Interests and Strengths – Try to individualize reports as much as possible. In this section you want to highlight what the child can do (not what they can’t do compared to others). Qualifiers on scripted sentences will not work, as each child will have different interests and different strengths. Suggestions for this section include mentioning the learning centres that the child most enjoys, the ways in which the child contributes to the class, and what attributes the child brings to either group discussions or play.
2) Development and Learning – In this section I would suggest providing assessment on the child’s development according to any of the six areas of development: Personal and Social Development, Language, Mathematics, Science & Technology, Health & Physical Activity, and the Arts (see http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/kindergarten_english_june3.pdf). Remember, you are stating where the student is based on the outcomes/expectations at the end of a two-year program. In this section it is a good idea to draw on specific examples of a child’s learning by quoting what they have said, or referring to something they did or created.
3) Planning for Further Learning – Here you can provide two short paragraphs. One for the planning that the Kindergarten teacher/team will implement to support or extend the child’s learning, and another short paragraph to suggest practical ways that the parents/guardians can help the child at home. Rather than suggest “reading to your child” (which we always want to suggest), you can add specific ideas like counting the floors on an elevator ride to your apartment; counting cheerios at breakfast, learning the sounds of letters on cereal boxes, learning how to write the names of family members. These suggestion may sound obvious to you, but they may be more useful to the parent than suggesting they work on letters and numbers with their child at home.
When you re-read your finished reports, it is important to get a sense of who the child is – including their strengths and needs. It is also a good idea to add an encouraging line at the end of the report, noting the child’s efforts and accomplishments in their adjustment to Junior Kindergarten.