There doesn’t seem to be any way around it. In fact, it is put quite bluntly in the 6th Edition of ‘Programming and Planning in Early Childhood Settings’. “Pedagogical documentation takes time.” If we want our documentation to be meaningful and truly inform our practice, then we do need to put thought and time into it.
But how do we find the perfect balance between time spent with children, and time spent documenting? Well, I don’t have a magic wand that will produce “an ongoing cycle of observation, analysing learning, documentation, planning, implementation and reflection” (Element 1.3.1) However I do have some thoughts on how we might manage our precious time and resources so that some of our documentation happens during ‘time spent with children’.
While I would like to take credit for these ideas, they actually come from Educators using EarlyWorks.
One way to manage time and still produce meaningful documentation is to develop individual observations from group observations. This is not cutting corners, just good practice. Early childhood settings tend to be very social places, and much of children’s learning involves relationships and social skills. So, it makes sense to observe children in groups.
Using EarlyWorks, educators can record their observations and reflection of learning for the group, and then create individual outcome comments for each child. The group observation is then shared and customized to best reflect the group interests and individual learning that took place. The narrative and reflection of learning can include a valuable record of the children’s conversations, actions, interaction and learning as a group, while the individual outcome comments identify the learning that is specific to each child.
Another way to manage time is to ‘outsource’ documentation by handing the camera over to the children. I sometimes wonder about the precious learning we miss as we’re taking photos of learning that has often already happened. By letting go and allowing the children to do the recording, we may get some valuable and surprising insight into children’s interests and learning.
Some of our EarlyWorks educators have gone a step further and invited the children to not only take the photos, but also create captions for the photos, and dictate the narrative for the daily journal, thus providing an even deeper insight into children’s interests and thinking.
A lovely way to embrace the Principle of partnerships, as well as the Practice of responsiveness to children, while at the same time working towards EYLF Outcome 4 ‘Children are confident and involved learners’.