Gesell Screening & Assessment System
Gesell Screening & Assessment System
The Gesell Assessment System is a research validated and kid-reported “fun” set of screening and assessment tools for educators, parents, pediatricians and other early childhood professionals. Both the Gesell Developmental Observation - Revised (GDO-R) and the Gesell Early Screener (GES) ask children to complete a set of tasks such as an interview, drawing, as well as counting and language activities. Through a few enjoyable exercises we can gather much information about a child's overall development. These tools help us to understand the ages and stages of child development, and how they relate to the individual learning and development needs of children.
At the Gesell Program in Early Childhood we assist parents and educators in finding the best match between what individual children need and what educators and parents can offer using our Gesell Developmental Assessment system. Assessment should be intentional and potentially have some benefit to the child. For example, assessment results can help:
- Identify what children know
- Identify children’s special needs
- Determine appropriate placement
- Select appropriate curricula to meet children’s individual needs
- Refer children and, as appropriate, their families for additional services to programs and agencies
- Do you need more information about assessing young children?
Do you need more information about assessing young children?
Gesell Developmental Observation - Revised
The Gesell Developmental Observation-Revised (GDO-R) is a comprehensive, multi-dimensional assessment that assists educators and other professionals in understanding characteristics of child behavior in relation to typical growth patterns between 2½ and 9 years of age. It uses direct observation to evaluate a child’s cognitive, language, motor and social-emotional responses. A child’s natural behavior will be assessed against three levels of age appropriate norms (Age Appropriate, Emerging or Concern) and result in a Developmental Age.
Gesell Early Screener
The Gesell Early Screener (GES) is a short screening instrument that can “flag” any child who may benefit from further diagnostic evaluation with a tool like the Gesell Developmental Observation (GDO-R). It can identify if a child may be at risk for developmental or learning delays. It does not, however, assign a Developmental Age, as its complementary tool the GDO-R does. The GES is intended for use with children ages 3 to 6.
Choosing the Right Assessment Tools
Do you need more information about assessing young children? For more information about how to chose the right tool, read Assessment and Young Children: What's Really Important.
Gesell Assessment System: Frequently Aasked Qquestions
- How long do Gesell assessments take?
- For the GDO-R, plan an hour for the full assessment. For the GES, 30 minutes is likely sufficient. Both assessments ask children to complete a set of tasks such as an interview, drawing, as well as counting and language activities. Through a few enjoyable exercises we can gather much information about a child's overall development.
- What should we expect?
- Both assessments ask children to complete a set of tasks such as an interview, drawing, as well as counting and language activities. Through a few enjoyable exercises we can gather much information about a child's overall development.
- How do I prepare my child for a Gesell Assessment?
- A good night sleep along with some time to play and a healthy snack beforehand is plenty preparation. There is no way to “practice” or “get better” at the tasks administered. Children will always show us their authentic developmental stage through the assessment, regardless.
- How do we prepare for a virtual Gesell assessment?
- Under the best circumstances, Gesell assessments are administered live, one-on-one, with the child. When needed we do find it is possible for an experience examiner to accomplish a virtual administration with validity. It does, however, require the assistance of an adult alongside the child to serve as proxy for the assessor. This will include handing the child the right material at the right time, for example. To be properly prepared to serve as proxy the examiner should provide you with a set of instructions and an explanatory video to watch in advance. Additionally, you will need to gather a few items, like 2 pencils and 20 pennies, all also explained in the preparatory material provided to you.
- What is developmental observation or assessment, and why is it important?
Developmental assessment is used to determine whether a child has reached developmental milestones and can accomplish the major associated tasks. Individual children’s responses are matched with normative patterns of behavior for each age. The responses yield a description of the child’s Developmental Age in contrast to chronological age.
An important aspect of developmental observation or assessment is that it can highlight areas of concern, and administered over time, can monitor consistency among developmental domains. When developmental assessment reveals signs of difficulty, re-screening should follow after a short interval. Persistent signs of difficulty indicate the need for a referral for diagnostic assessment.
Understanding children in light of their developmental age can help to adjust expectations, inform curricula, design spaces, and establish practices that are developmentally appropriate and supportive of the natural unfolding of the growth and development process.
For more information regarding the role of assessment or screening, we recommend Gesell’s Guide for Parents and Teachers: Understanding the Relationship Between Families and Schools booklet from our online bookstore.
- I teach/study developmental theory but I'm not that familiar with Dr. Arnold Gesell. Why is Gesell theory important?
Arnold Gesell, PhD, MD was a pioneer in child development, beginning his groundbreaking work in the early 20th century. He developed a set of norms illustrating sequential and predictable patterns of growth and development, used as the basis of the Gesell Developmental Observation. Dr. Gesell was the first director of the Yale University Clinic now known as the Yale Child Study Center, as well as the nation’s first school psychologist. He was also a founding member of the National Association for Nursing and Education, now known as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
Working at Yale from 1911 to 1948, Gesell used innovative methods of observation and cinematography to delineate the process of the ages and stages of normative development. Gesell was the first to recognize these stages, which have since become well established in modern day pediatrics and psychology. Gesell sought to document the process of growth for the whole child, believing, as we do today, that “a child is more than a score.” Additional details about Gesell’s maturational theory are provided in the updated GDO-R Examiner’s Manual, along with how this theory ties into the work of other well-known theorists such as Piaget and Vygotsky.