The Hidden Role of Educators in Your Child’s Development
Did you know your child’s educators are there for more than entertaining them throughout the day? They are also there to help your child learn and grow into the person they will be. While the priority is to keep your children safe and healthy, it is equally important for them to document the child’s learning journey. This will give you an accurate picture of your child’s development, allowing you to make informed decisions about their education options throughout their childhood.
The Australian Children’s Education and Care Quality Authority (ACECQA) states that early learning services must create a child-centred learning environment and program that enhances each child’s learning and development. This ensures that children’s learning needs can be met and their interests supported at every stage of the education system. All aspects of the program, including routines, are organised in ways that maximise opportunities for each child’s learning and development, so we use documentation to track each child’s progress.
Documenting a child’s learning helps educators reflect on their practice to ensure they meet every child’s individual needs. At Eden Academy, this is at the heart of everything we do. We use the Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) to guide our program’s design and implementation. The EYLF is a framework early learning services use to support children’s learning, development and wellbeing. It provides a shared understanding of how each child develops over time, including their social and emotional needs as well as their cognitive skills. So, what does this actually look like in the classroom?
How we document your child’s learning
We use various methods to document your child’s learning, and even though technology makes the process easier to house and send, many educators still enjoy documenting children’s learning physically in their portfolios. There are many different ways we document learning; it is important to note that there is no one way to do it. Some educators have found that using a physical portfolio helps to keep track of the children’s learning in an organised manner while also allowing us to communicate with parents throughout the year (and you get to keep it at the end!) Here are some of the ways we document your child’s learning
- Anecdotal Records
- Running Records
- Learning Stories
- Time Samples
- Event Samples
- Work Samples
When we are observing a child, we never label them as ”unable’ to do something. Instead, educators document what the child is currently doing. For example, when Johnny starts in the toddlers room, his educator may observe him while he is dancing to music and write: “Johnny grinned with excitement when he heard baby shark come on. He stood up by himself and began to bounce up and down to the song on the spot.” Later in the year, the educator may observe Johnny in the same situation and document: “Johnny exclaimed ‘my favourite’ when he heard baby shark start playing. He began jumping around the room and used his arms and legs to move himself. He danced in a circle and then went over to the mirror to see his reflection.” The difference between these two descriptions is that the first one does not say Johnny is unable to dance with his whole body yet. Instead, it documents what he does at this stage of development and how he expresses himself through movement.
We aim to capture children’s voices and ideas in planning, documentation and evaluation as they should be just as involved in their own learning as we are! We believe that children have a lot to say about their learning and we need to listen! As well as capturing their voices in planning and documentation, we also ask them questions about their learning and what they want to learn more about.
When we say children’s voices, we don’t always mean verbal communication, and of course, not all children at Eden Academy are able to communicate their wishes verbally yet. Early Childhood theorist Loris Malaguzzi said, “children speak one hundred languages”, which includes things like visual arts, dance, movement, song, music, poetry, photography, drawing, drama and writing. When we hear children’s voices, it is important that we don’t just listen with our ears but also with our eyes.
Children’s participation in documenting their learning helps them develop a deeper understanding of themselves as learners as they build up their own personalised portfolios over time. Additionally, it gives them a sense of achievement and enriches their discussion of learning opportunities with peers, adults and extended family members.
In addition to educators’ observations and children’s voices, family input plays a huge role in the direction of our program and learning. We work closely with families to gather information on their child’s strengths and challenges, as well as their interests and passions. This allows us to create fun learning environments where children can use their strengths and interests to learn new skills. It also gives a baseline or goal to work towards in collaboration with our families, which we report through documentation.
Daily documentation not only creates fun and engaging learning environments but it also keeps families connected to what we do at our service. Our families can access Eden Academy’s online portal, where they can see daily learning stories and photos!
Educators use ‘planning cycles’ which is a framework for planning and implementing curriculum. What this means is that educators go through different stages of observations and documentation, with the goal of showing how children have developed during these stages or what they need to try next.
Information Gathering – Educators can only report on development if they have an indication of the child’s present level of development. During the information gathering phase, educators will observe children in the learning environment and document their findings to base their planning on.
Questioning – By reviewing all of the evidence gathered, educators can refine, change, or introduce certain elements into future lessons and learner groups.
Planning – Now that educators have learnt where the children are at and better understand their learning needs, they can plan their lessons accordingly. This is done by creating learning experiences and routines catering to each child’s needs and abilities.
Acting – This is all about putting it all together and putting it into practice. Educators can now begin to implement their learning experiences with a new sense of purpose, knowing that they’re meeting the needs of all learners. This is also about being flexible, as educators must be prepared to adapt their plans if necessary.
Reflecting – Your educators will then take a step back and reflect on how/if their learning experiences have contributed to the growth and development of the children. This is a crucial step, as it helps educators to gain a new perspective on their practice. They’ll be able to see how they can improve upon what they’re doing and make it more effective.
In summary, documenting a child’s learning journey is an important part of what we do at Eden Academy. It helps us understand what they already know and can do, as well as their strengths and interests. This helps us plan how we can best support your child to keep developing new skills and knowledge in ways that are meaningful to them.