• guided practice: practice of a process, behavior, or tasks that happen alongside an educator or coach
  • individualized instruction: instruction that is planned and implemented based on the individual interests, strengths, and needs of each child
  • modeling: explicitly demonstrating a process, behavior, or task
  • scaffold: a specialized instructional support that helps children learn; examples include prompts, hints, reminders, or models
  • visual and auditory cues: signals and other indicators to let children know that something is about to begin or end

Assess and Plan

Before watching this video, read the text below. When instructed, watch the video from the beginning to end.

To successfully create learning opportunities for children, you should know the particular interests each child has—what “makes a child tick” as Professor Villegas-Reimers says in the overview video. It’s also important that you assess each child’s skill level and understanding by carefully observing and interacting one-on-one, in small groups, and with the whole class. This will enable you to tailor activities, interventions, and teaching strategies.

  • Be proactive. Get to know each child. As educators watch, listen to, and engage with children throughout the day, they should note children’s abilities and challenges.
  • Create fun and engaging learning opportunities by using what you know about each child’s special interests, expertise, and favorite things.
  • Encourage children’s learning by helping them succeed. Educators can then provide opportunities for each child to move to a higher skill level.

In this video, you’ll see educators as they listen to and observe children to assess each child’s unique characteristics. The educators use what they see and hear to plan activities and interactions to meet each child’s learning needs. As you watch, look for effective strategies used by the educators in the video and jot down answers to these viewing questions in your Learning Log.

  • How can educators assess children’s unique interests, challenges, and abilities?
  • How do the educators use what they know about each child to plan for and implement instruction?


Why is it important to assess the individual traits of each child?

  • Each child has different learning levels and needs. The information that educators gather when observing and listening to children can be used to support, encourage, and engage children in learning.
    • If you notice that a child likes dinosaurs, use books about dinosaurs to teach letter sounds and concepts of print, use toy dinosaurs at the math table for counting, and provide dinosaur props in the Pretend and Play Center.
    • If a child or a group of children are having trouble with a concept or skill, such as sorting, use a small group setting to model the skill or explain the concept.

How can you assess each child’s unique interests, needs, and abilities?

  • Observe each child’s interactions and ask questions. As you do, note individual children’s successes or challenges.
    • At the Block Center, you might ask: What shapes are you using to build your tower? How many blocks do you have left?
    • Review concepts or ideas children may not fully grasp. In the video, Min-Jen quickly reviews what the idea of a pattern is as she asks what color comes next.

Why is it important for you to recognize and respond to children’s strengths?

  • Notice and praise children’s successes. This helps children gain a sense of mastery and self-worth. As Min-Jen explains in the video, “I catch the moment when they are really good at something.”
  • Specific and positive feedback that focuses on the child’s effort and perseverance helps give children confidence to engage in more difficult tasks. For example, Wow! You are learning to zip your coat all by yourself! You have been working hard on that is more effective than a general comment like Good job!


Think about your own program as you answer these reflection questions in your Learning Log.

  • How are you already recognizing and responding to the unique interests, skills, and abilities of each child in your program?
  • What supports could you add that would help you meet the unique learning needs of the children in your program?
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