Friday, June 21, 2013

Teaching Strategies GOLD {Why I'm so excited and why you should have it too}

Teaching Strategies GOLD is an assessment tool used along with the Creative Curriculum. I became familiar with the curriculum and this assessment while working at Head Start. I was sold that at some point when I had children I would use this. I can't go on enough about how much I love it and why you should too, but I'll try.

There is a benefit to this whether you are staying home and want to be proactive in your infant, toddler, preschoolers education or your child is in day care/preschool and you want to bring it home. This is going to be brutally honest. I have worked at six day cares and preschools and only one of them really pushed educating the children. That was Head Start. If you don't know what that is, it is a federally funded program for low income families. So the high priced elaborate child care facilities don't really mean squat. I've worked at them. The private, the chains, and the small time heavy price ones. I'm not saying that all of them are bad. I'm saying that what you walk in and see and what really goes on in a day are most often two very different things. Bringing home a turkey hand print does not equal learning. Meeting at certain intervals to go over progress, being shown evidence of learning like pictures, images, and notes, and discussing curriculum's are good signs. So this post is not just for staying at home. It's for children in home, center, or home.

I truly believe that this assessment tool would help many parents, especially moms, because face it we all think our kids are the smartest EVER. I hear all the time "Oh Johny knows his numbers, he can count to ten," etc. Correction. Johny can count to ten. Can Johny identify? Can Johny quantify? Probably not, because he's not even two. As easy as it is to fall into the trap of thinking your child knows everything, it's not beneficial to them. Understanding development and the fine print is. Being realistic about where they excel, where they hit target, and where they need help is.

That's where Teaching Strategies GOLD comes in. It breaks down key developmental areas social-emotional, physical, language, cognitive, literacy, mathematics, science and technology, social studies, and the arts. There are also some great objectives if you are a multilingual home. Each of these areas go into objectives and from there goals. These goals are charted out by color bands identifying what age range is typically at this point. It doesn't matter if they are behind or ahead of their age range. As long as you're honest. That is what is important. These ranges are from birth to Kindergarten and are there to give you an idea of a starting point.

When you first open your assessment you can either baseline your child or you can leave it blank. Natalie's will be blank, because honestly at her age she would meet very little goals and there would not be much room for notes. If you are not sure if your child is at a goal then check the in between boxes. Levels 1,3,5,7, and 9 are there for when you are either not sure or did not have enough notes to pass on to another goal. It is always better to underscore your child than to over score. Base lining for a child is pretty easy, but when it's your own you really need to step outside of the parent role and look at your child's development from an outsiders perspective. Don't make up examples that kind of, sort of fit what the goal is.

In order to pass a goal you need at least three observational notes. In areas like math I always wanted more than three. The reason being I wanted to ensure that these things were not by chance. If you are using most of your notes from something like an iPad be weary that it could be chance that they hit the circle or letter A. Your notes should never include he was happy, she liked it, or they thought. You have no idea what they felt or what their intention was. An example of a note would be:
(Cognitive) Objective: Uses classification skills. Goal: Matches similar objects.
"Molly was asked to go get her shoes. She brought back her brown shoe. "Go get your other brown shoe." She brings back the matching brown shoe."
A bad example would be:
"Molly was asked to go get her shoes. She brought back her brown shoe. "Go get your other brown shoe." She brought back her other brown shoe because she knew it was brown."
Another note example would be:

(Social-Emotional) Objective: Establishes and sustains positive relationships Goal: Uses successful strategies for entering groups.
"A group of kids are playing in the kiddie pool with water toys. Molly gets into the kiddie pool and picks up a toy. She splashes another boy and he splashes her back."
A bad example would be:
"Molly joined the kids in the kiddie pool. She started to play. They were all happy splashing together and were having fun."
Here is a link to the research supporting Teaching Strategies GOLD.
If you are interested in buying these assessments follow this link. You want to only purchase this "Child Assessment Portfolio (set of 25)" option. The other things are for a classroom and you would not need them.
If you want to purchase the curriculum books which I would suggest especially for preschool age go here for birth to three and here for preschool.
I know it can be hard with how competitive mothers can be with a child's development. Just remember that most likely your child is on track. Some things may be slower, but they probably excel in other areas. A lot of bragging can come from little understanding of how a child grows. For example the "my baby never crawled, only walked!" Ok, well did you know that crawling is an important mile stone and if they never crawl you should work on crawling once they are older? Crawling is a HUGE milestone that is a child's first lesson in crossing left to right in the brain. This is monumental in things like reading. "My baby walked at 9 months yours is 15 months!?" Does this happen 100% of the time to early walkers, no, but walking early can lead to bowed legs. "My 18 month old says 200 words!" Don't let this get to you. Look at your child. Do they follow directions? Can they use expressions to communicate? This is language. All of this comes from knowing development. When to roll your eyes, when to not feel bad, and when to be proactive. This is why I believe every parent should be on top this.

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