Gone are the days of educators (or back then, ‘childcare workers’) following children around with checklists, focusing on what children could and couldn’t do. According to Arthur et al, (2015) observations used to focus on pre-planned experiences using pre-planned observation methods to assess particular aspects of children’s development. Using this method of observation educators divided observations into different domains, and as a result missed lots of incidental learning that didn’t fit into the predetermined checklists.
Fast forward to 2018 where educators view children as active participants in their learning. According to Arthur et al (p 261) There is now “a strong focus in contemporary methods of documentation on reflective practice in collaboration with children, families and all staff members, and the use of these reflections to analyse what is happening and to inform planning.” So rather than coming in with preconceived notions about what all children should be learning and demonstrating, we are focusing on children’s individual interests, strengths and emerging understanding of their world.
Using the ‘Extend’ function in EarlyWorks, educators can draw on documentation collected in a range of contexts to inform planning. The Extend function allows educators to turn any family, educator, learning journey, or program comment; reflection of pedagogy; or daily communication into an observation that informs planning. This means that the diverse strengths and interests of each child are more likely to be incorporated into the program.
It could be argued that the little green Extend button is actively supporting educators in their quest to move away from predetermined checklists and observation methods, to adopting contemporary approaches to documentation. And, importantly, the voices of all stakeholders (children, families and educators) can be heard.
Reference: Arthur, L, Beecher, B, Death, E. Dockett, S, & Farmer, S, 2015, Programming and planning in early childhood settings, 6th ed. Cengage Learning, South Melbourne, Victoria.