Learning Journey and Parents as Partners
Although parents love looking through their child's learning journey, the paperwork and administration involved in putting one together can be very time-consuming.
After all, documenting the evidence, writing up observations and collecting samples of children's work and experiences takes a lot of time.
Although there is no getting away from this statutory requirement to evidence a child's development, you can encourage parents to get involved and contribute content.
Involving parents will deepen the value of the Learning Journey
Here are three easy ideas for you to try:
Wow notes are one of the simplest ways to engage and involve parents. Simply create a template and make them available for parents or carers to take away and complete at home. Wow notes can be used for recording all manner of small accomplishments, for example:
Getting dressed independently
Saying a new word
Physical development such as climbing stairs or walking independently
Demonstrating good behaviour etc.
Wow notes can then be added to the Learning Journal as evidence of development that has been observed at home. They could even be used to supplement something you have seen a child demonstrate at nursery. In addition, wow notes are a great way to reinforce positive praise by allowing a child to celebrate and get recognition for their at-home achievements at nursery.
Photo diaries of special days and events:
In addition to wow notes, you can encourage parents to provide larger pieces of content. For example, parents could supply a photo diary of a special day out or of a holiday. Action pictures are a great way to capture visual evidence of a child demonstrating something, and this can be supplemented with a short parent commentary. Parents could also be encouraged to write down a quote of what a child has said, and an older child may want to write something themselves.
Show and tell:
Encourage parents to allow children to bring work they have completed at home into the nursery. This could be some artwork, mark-making or even a photograph showing role-play or other learning experiences. This can work really well if parents supply evidence that reinforces an activity a child is learning at nursery. For example, parents may reinforce an autumn theme by taking their child to the local park to do bark rubbings or leaf painting, mini-beasts may be reinforced by a nature trail and a photo diary of a child looking for bugs, or an animal theme could be supported by a visit to the zoo or the local farm.
To help parents with this you could outline learning themes in a newsletter and suggest ideas for reinforcing learning at home, or you could post weekly updates in the cloakroom with suggestions of songs and activities parents could try with their children.
One of the responsibilities of childcare settings is to make development judgements. You may decide that a child's development is typical, delayed or more advanced for their age. If parents have been actively involved in contributing to their child's development by providing content for Learning Journey you may find this opens dialogue and makes it far easy to discuss openly how a child is performing.