Documentation and assessment for learning are an important part of what we do as early childhood educators. Documentation helps us to recognise what is working, what isn’t, what opportunities there are, what children know and what children are thinking about. It is essential for planning, reflecting and assessing against the Early Years Learning Framework and for measuring the ‘distance traveled’ by children.
But what about children’s documentation; children’s versions of what they know and see? Their self assessment, their understanding of what they have learned and how far they have come? How do educators capture this and use it to inform their planning, reflection and assessment?
Sturt House have introduced journalling as a tool to enable children to document their own learning. Each child has their own learning journal, which travels between Sturt House and home, and operates separately to their learning portfolio. As well as this, there are two journals that track learning relating to two key curriculum areas; gardening and cooking. The educators use these journals as a way of sharing the role of ‘documentor’ with children. The journals are a place where the child’s voice sits beside the educator’s voice, creating a balanced and shared perspective on events and experiences.
The challenge for children’s documentation is finding ways for all children to be heard. Sturt House achieve this by taking a wider view of what constitutes recording. Children are supported to share their thinking in a variety of ways. Some children choose to write, have their words scribed, draw, paint, sculpt or take photographs. For young children, recording is so much more than writing, and the phrase ‘a picture says a thousand words’ can be taken quite literally.
When children are able to document their own learning, when they see and hear their words or thoughts within the documentation, their sense of belonging and self increases. They know they are valued, important and respected, because look! Here are the things they have chosen to share.