Effective Practices : Report Writing and Documentation
Report Writing in the Kindergarten
Report Writing and Documentation Section 3
1. Does your school prepare written progress reports for students in the kindergarten?
2. Are these reports for internal use only, or are they sent to parents as well?
3. What is the format of these reports and what issues do they address?
4. With what frequency are reports produced?
5. Are there written guidelines for writing progress reports in the kindergarten? Attach a copy if available and comment on the most important aspects of these guidelines.
6. How and when are issues regarding a student’s eligibility for acceptance into the first grade addressed?
7. Describe the key elements of your school’s philosophy with regard to report writing in the kindergarten.
8. What about your school’s kindergarten report writing program is particularly effective?
9. If you could change some aspect of your school’s kindergarten report writing program, what would you change and why?
Does your school prepare written progress reports for students in the kindergarten?
Report writing is approached in many different ways in the kindergarten. Some schools write reports each year for all children in the Early Childhood area of the school. Others write reports only for children who will be entering first grade the following year, while others write no reports at all.
One school described their reporting approach this way:
“The school does end of the year reports for all children in the early Childhood area, nursery through kindergarten. The areas covered in the year end reports include:
- How the student is with various classroom activities such as circle, story, and eurythmy,
- Drawing and painting (are they age appropriate, is the child still scribbling, etc.),
- Handwork including felting and sewing,
- Behavior in the classroom and interaction with other students (is the child a leader or follower and so on),
- How the child is at meal time
- How the student is in after care, and
- The child’s capabilities in toileting and self care.
A teacher will also comment on a child’s gross and fine motor skills and his or her singing and musical talent. Sometimes the report will give the child “summer homework” such as drawing every day.
“The reports are fairly short and sweet, but are thorough and address all key issues. It is important that the difficult issues are addressed as well as those that are more positive. Severe problems are always addressed first personally in a conference, and then followed up by a letter.
“For first grade ready children the results of some aspects of the first grade readiness tests might be included in the report.
“In addition to the year end reports, all early childhood teachers do two parent teacher conferences each year. The conference form completed by the teacher is one page long. Parents are given a blank form so they can take notes during the conference, but they do not receive a copy of the teacher’s conference notes.”
Other schools only write reports the year before a student is eligible for first grade. Often times these reports are focused on first grade readiness, but may also include additional notes from the teacher about the child’s experience in the kindergarten and the special gifts and challenges he/she brings to the class.
Are these reports for internal use only, or are they sent to parents as well?
In the schools that write reports on every child every year reports are routinely sent to parents. At these schools the teacher’s conference notes stay in the teacher’s personal files, but any correspondence such as a letter or a recommendation is included in the child’s folder and becomes part of his/her permanent record.
In schools that write reports only on first grade eligible students the usual approach is that the report is being written for the incoming first grade teacher, and are given to him/her once he/she is named. At these schools the reports are not given to parents, although material included in the report is reviewed with parents at the spring parent/teacher conference. Several of the kindergarten teachers expressed the feeling that the children are still “becoming” at this stage of development, and that a report may create a picture in the parents’ minds that is too hardened.
What is the format of these reports and what issues do they address?
Typically the kindergarten report is typed and attempts to address the emerging personality that is present in the child and his/her developmental progress, usually in narrative fashion. The first grade readiness information, which is often prepared by a separate group (See: Enrollment Section 3 - Transitions from the Kindergarten to First Grade), is often included in the report.
Areas that are addressed in the kindergarten report include:
- circle participation,
- social interaction and free play,
- drawing (coloring),
- room care,
- the child’s main areas of interest,
- self care,
- personality and temperament, and
- outdoor play.
There is also a sheet on which the teacher is asked to make observations on the child’s parents and their commitment to Waldorf education, the strength of the bridge between home and school, cooperation between the parents and the teacher, the family’s approach to media, how the parents respond to the teacher as an authority, the child’s dietary requirements, absences and tardiness, and other comments.
Several of the teachers noted the importance of writing the report as though a stranger were reading it so that future readers (lower school teachers or teachers at another school if the student transfers) can easily see a picture of the child. At times the reports can take on a tone that is too familiar, so it is good to have other teachers read each other’s reports for tone and content.
With what frequency are reports produced?
These reports are written just once a year. In schools where their intention is to document first grade readiness they are produced prior to the winter break. In schools that produce a report on all students each year the reports are produced in spring or at the end of the school year.
Are there written guidelines for writing progress reports in the kindergarten? Attach a copy if available and comment on the most important aspects of these guidelines.
Few schools had written guidelines for report preparation in the kindergarten. Most of the schools studied had very long time kindergarten teachers who had developed approaches to report writing out of long experience, and these “old pros” typically take newer teachers under their wings when it comes time to write reports, teaching them what should and should not be included. One school offered the following list of items to be addressed in a year end report:
- Physical description of the child
- Years in the Early Childhood Center
- Social Development
- Cognitive Development
- Emotional Development
- Imagination/Creativity of the child at play
- Attention span
- Ability to follow directions
- Staying power
- Ability to follow through on tasks
- Singing Recall
- Language skills
- Receptive (understanding of what is being said)
- Expressive (ability to say the appropriate thing)
- Activities ability
- Gross motor coordination
- Fine motor coordination
- Spatial orientation
- Ability to follow transition
- First grade readiness if applicable
- Follow up recommendations (what to do with and for the child)
Most schools have very defined processes for assessing first grade readiness. (See: First Grade Readiness Guidelines) and (See: Enrollment 3-3 Grade One Assessment Procedure and Checklist)
How and when are issues regarding a student’s eligibility for acceptance into the first grade addressed?
Most schools have a first grade readiness assessment process that allows decisions to be made about the readiness of individual students for the first grade, and to inform the difficult situation when there are more first grade applicants than the class can accommodate. In some schools this assessment is done solely by the kindergarten teachers, but in most schools this review is done by a separate team of teachers and resource personnel. This process is described in more detail in the Enrollment Section of Effective Practices (See: Enrollment Section 3 - Transitions from Kindergarten to Grade One)
Following the assessment it is common for a member of the assessment team and the child’s teacher to meet with the parents to share the results of the assessment. At this meeting any suggestions about support that the child needs during the balance of the school year and over the summer is shared with the parents.
Describe the key elements of your school’s philosophy with regard to report writing in the kindergarten.
The purpose of the report is to help the teacher build a healthy foundation for her first grade.
The reports support the building of a classroom community, and make the challenges and gifts that each child brings to the class apparent.
It is a real act for the kindergarten teachers to write these reports. It strengthens their observation skills and brings a formal ending to the kindergarten teachers’ work with the children.
It is important for child studies to be done regularly as this fine tunes the teacher’s observation skills. This study is best done in a group so veteran teachers can support the younger teachers.
Writing the first grade readiness reports helps teachers to be clear in their communication with parents. Having the report preformatted helps one to be thorough.
A preformatted report helps to keep the report grounded, and to avoid sentimentality or emotionalism.
Report writing is a discipline for the teachers. It calls the teachers to task, and requires the teachers to be clear on each individual child and his or her needs.
The youngest children change very rapidly, so writing formatted reports at these younger ages is less helpful. There is too much change in too short a time for the reports to have value for a reasonable period of time.
It is important to be observant but to continue to be joyful. It is important not to be overly rigid in the kindergarten.
Be very objective. Say what you see - not what you hope to see.
Don’t include other children’s names in a report.
We need to be professional, and write in a way that others willunderstand. We try to use mainstream jargon so that our reports are not too Waldorf oriented.
The report on a child that is entering first grade is a milestone report. It needs to be particularly clear about a child’s development and his or her social integration skills.
It is very helpful for the kindergarten to have an agreed on list of all the areas that early childhood teachers should cover in their reports. The list can be changed from year to year, but having a standard list helps to ensure thoroughness and consistency in reporting.
No surprises. Always talk to parents before giving information in a written fashion.
It’s nice to have an anecdotal story in the report that shows that a teacher is paying attention.
Read other teachers’ reports. Making discernments about both the good and the bad elements in another’s reports can be helpful in terms of shaping a teacher’s reports and improving their quality.
The report should always include advice to parents that reports on young children are written for the parents, and should not be shared with the child.
What about your school’s kindergarten report writing program is particularly effective?
The school frames the first grade readiness assessment as a story, and this works very well with the children.
The list of topics that the kindergarten teachers have agreed on for consideration when writing a report is a very helpful tool.
Report writing is a regular part of the conversation at the early childhood faculty meetings. The early childhood teachers have a double meeting each week with the assistants first and then just the lead teachers. This regular process of meeting and conversation is very important, and helps to develop the teachers’ insights into children and the ability to describe them with clarity.
Child studies are done in the early childhood meetings.
The communication that the report writing process generates between teachers and assistants is very positive.
The report guidelines ensure thoroughness, but also allow a teacher to be open to her own instincts.
The formal closing of instruction that the report writing process brings is particularly helpful as a self assessment opportunity for the teacher and for building a strong first grade community.
If you could change some aspect of your school’s kindergarten report writing program, what would you change and why?
There is a living question as to whether these reports could or should be written for the parents. Some parents ask for them, but most are satisfied with the meeting where their child’s developmental assessment is discussed.
This is the first year that we have more students applying for first grade than we can accommodate. This will be a good test of the effectiveness of our report writing; we will see how things go before making any changes in our approach to reports.
It is rare to hear back from parents about the year end reports. It would be great to hear back from them more often.