The Early Years Toolbox (EYT) is a collection of readily accessible measures of young children’s emerging cognitive, self-regulatory, language, numeracy and social development. Each measure is a brief, engaging, game-like assessment that has been developed for the iPad. EYT was developed as an advance over existing measures to capture abilities that research has shown to be predictive of later academic, social, emotional, cognitive and life outcomes.
Despite the presence and widespread use of a range of existing measures of young children’s development, issues of appropriateness, accessibility and cost plague many of these options. Issues such as insufficiently engaging stimuli and non-intuitive response methods can hinder accurate assessment of young children’s true abilities. Further, extensive technological requirements (e.g., multiple pieces of hardware) and need for a continuous broadband Internet connection during data collection limits who and where data can be collected. To address these limitations, we developed the Early Years Toolbox (EYT) as a set of playful measures of young children’s emerging development.
We sought to provide a number of important advances over existing measures. These include:
|5-8 minutes per task
|Engaging, game-like assessment that doesn’t feel like assessment
|Can be administered in most contexts (e.g., preschools), with just an iPad
|Accessible without permissions or prohibitive costs, and use does not require a particular qualification
|Leverages affordances of technology (e.g., embedded parallel forms, child performance charts) without requiring children to be familiar with the technology
|Valid and reliable for use with young children aged 3-6 years, spanning the pre-school and transition to primary school periods
|Indexes children’s performance, relative to other children their age, in key areas of development
|Sensitive to change
|Captures rapid changes in core abilities in the early years
|Linked to practices
|Articulates with key learning outcomes identified in prominent international frameworks and curricula
Apps have been linked to supportive practices, to inform practice and planning
The diversity of assessments in the early years has yielded very different answers about child development. Some of this may be due to different requirements across these measures, and in other cases this may stem from issues with the measures themselves. No matter the cause, this has led to substantial debate about the nature and development of these abilities. To address this, we sought to develop a readily accessible ‘toolbox’ of measures that is easy to administer by those who have the greatest opportunity to influence children’s outcomes (e.g., educators, researchers).