The first and most basic answer to this question is a simple one: it is required if practitioners want to keep their childcare licence! The second and less basic answer is a more nuanced one – let us take a look at why practitioners track children’s progress and why it is laudable that they continue to do so.
Early Problem Detection
Even the most well-meaning parents can sometimes cover up for their children missing important milestones, because they fear their child will be humiliated by being ‘held back’, because of personal pride, or for any of a number of unfounded reasons, many of them not clearly thought out, but all having the same result: losing the chance for early intervention. While it is certainly true that all children develop at their own rate, there comes a time when ‘late development’ should perhaps be re-labelled into something a little more serious – or at least, something in which remedial action is strongly recommended and enacted. The EYFS tracking program was introduced to help nursery teachers and assistants to pick up on the point where ‘nothing to worry about’ turns into ‘a minor point of concern’ in a timely enough manner that the child’s needs can be catered for.
When children well over the age of five are found to be in need of remedial lessons, be it in speech, reading and writing, or numeracy, they can feel humiliated, as though they have been targeted for being different. Sometimes they will feel stupid or slow, and their self-confidence can plummet. School attendance, at this point, will often begin to show the early signs of truancy – sometimes accompanied by parental collusion, as, unable to face another morning tantrum, the parents allow their children to call in sick. From this point, it can become a nightmare for all parties: the parents feel helpless and guilty and can lash out at the school; the teachers can feel beleaguered, often with meagre resources earmarked for far more pupils than they can sustain, and the child’s mortification can worsen.
EYFS can prevent much of this heartache by spotting problems before they become embedded, reassuring parents that it is not their fault as well as teaching them coping techniques, and generally preparing the way for the child to head into the mainstream school system with a strong support system in place.
Adding to the Data
Another excellent reason for tracking children’s progress is to add to the data. The more information that can be gathered using software like https://tinytracker.co.uk/, the better understanding the authorities can gain of exactly how children develop, what delays or slows that development, and what steps, if any, can be taken to ensure that the child is given as best a chance of success in mainstream education as possible.
While it is a legal requirement that registered nurseries and childcare providers use the EYFS programme, the reasons for doing so are laudable and worthy of adherence. Why do practitioners track children’s progress? Because it helps every child have a successful education – which offers tremendous hope for their future lives.