The Childhood Experiences Questionnaire
What is The Childhood Experiences Questionnaire (CHEQ)?
The CHEQ is an innovative way to capture and report on children’s experiences in their early environments. The CHEQ focuses on experiences in specific areas of development that are strongly linked to children’s health and well-being, education and social outcomes. Information reported by parents and caregivers on the CHEQ helps communities understand how to support children and families prior to Kindergarten; it also helps schools with individual, classroom and school level planning.
Health & Well-being
Parents and caregivers respond to questions about their child’s experiences related to physical health and overall well-being including daily physical activities, routine health care check-ups, nutrition, and sleep habits.
Language & Cognition
Parents and caregivers are asked about a variety of experiences that influence their child’s language development and cognition, including reading, storytelling, engaging in conversation and pretend play, rhyming, using pens and pencils, counting and sorting, painting and more.
Social & Emotional Well-being
Parents and caregivers are asked about different social experiences their child may have had before Kindergarten, including playing with other children, sharing and helping others. In addition, parents and caregivers are asked about opportunities their child may have had to talk about their emotions and the emotional experiences of others.
Early Learning & Care
Parents and caregivers are asked about their child’s experiences in non-parental care arrangements and preschool, as well as challenges faced when looking for care. They are also asked about their child’s experience with intervention programs and supports.
Community & Context
Parents and caregivers are asked about their perceptions of neighbourhood safety, opportunities for children to play outside in their neighbourhood, social support networks and whether neighbours can be counted on to look after children.
Why was the CHEQ developed?
When children are young, the experiences they have exploring, learning and interacting with others in a variety of settings can influence their development. For many years, results from the Early Development Instrument (EDI) have shown that there is great variability in children’s skills and competencies during Kindergarten across the province. These research results prompted an interdisciplinary research team of experts in child development, in collaboration with teachers, administrators and community stakeholders from across British Columbia, to develop a new tool to assess the experiences of children prior to Kindergarten in order to better understand these results.
How is the CHEQ used?
Information collected using the CHEQ is instantly summarized into individual, classroom and school level reports. These reports provide principals and teachers with detailed overviews of their new group of Kindergarten students. This information provides insight into the specific needs of each class and informs planning for the school year. Information is also summarized at the district level and builds on HELP’s history of sharing data with community stakeholders in an effort to help create the conditions that most effectively support families. District reports highlight gaps in experiences children need in order to be ready for Kindergarten, and can assist stakeholders in making evidence-based decisions to improve programming and services to address these areas.
How do the CHEQ & EDI work together?
Parents and caregivers of Kindergarten children from participating schools across British Columbia complete the CHEQ at the beginning of the school year. Teachers complete the Early Development Instrument (EDI) the following February. The CHEQ provides parent and caregiver insights on a child’s context that can supplement teachers’ observations on the EDI. Schools and communities can use information collected with the CHEQ to think about their current group of Kindergarten students and how the experiences those children had prior to Kindergarten might influence the skills and competencies measured on the EDI. Finally, information from the CHEQ and the EDI, along with other tools, can be used to brainstorm ways to support children and families across communities in BC.