Drowning in Documentation … Tips to Lighten the Load.

I was talking recently to a Rose3 member who was telling me about a workshop that was held for educators by her scheme. The presenter apparently was instructing the educators to document everything! (To the great horror and extreme stress of the group, from what was reported). All I can say to this is:

1. That is impossible.
2. It is not required.
3. WHY!?

What a waste of valuable play/interaction time with children or educator’s time with their own families.
After a 7 – 12 hour day (or more) with the children in your care, why spend hours documenting information that is not useful.

Documentation has to be meaningful and useful for 3 key purposes:

– for the support and development of the child, including a child’s own reflection on their life and development.
– for the educator to develop deeper understanding of the child/children for programming, planning and use in the developmental support of that child; including reflection to improve educator practice for the benefit of children.
– so families are constantly updated and informed about their child’s development ensuring educators and families can work in partnership for the benefit of the child.

Hmmm… I haven’t mention a thing about assessment?! If an educator is using their documentation and planning for the correct purpose, if they can explain and show that the documentation kept (including their Quality Improvement Plan) is meaningful, reflective and positively focused on the development of the child, there is no reason to be documenting everything.

Long before the National Quality Framework, Standards and the Early Years Learning Framework; early childhood teachers have been documenting and reflecting on children’s development and their own practice. This was not for any assessment requirement; this was always about best practice.

The best early childhood teachers have always been reflective practitioners, constantly striving to improve and develop their knowledge and skill for the children in their care.

Yes, there have been introductions of some more specific guidelines and lingo (I never called it a learning story…it was always observations, some longer than others). When I first started out I used the following list of outcomes to link learning and development.  We called them objectives back then (…we can debate the different meanings between these two words at another time!)  I found them recently (yes…I keep everything!).  What a blast from the past:

Preschool Developmental Objectives 1990

Remember, there is no specific amount of documentation required by the NQS.  Ask yourself before documenting:

1. Is this significant?  (Is it a developmentally important learning moment?)

2. Is this meaningful?   (What importance is the moment to the child/family/educator/program/learning environment?)

3. Is it actionable?  (How can the learning environment be enhanced or educators interact, support and extend this moment…that is, how can this information be used?)

The best information and advice comes straight from ACEQA…

Constantly review and remind yourself why you are documenting and for whom. The main thing to remember is that it is not the amount of documentation you have, or how immaculately or colourfully the information is presented, but how the documentation is used. Ask yourself, how does the documentation assist in planning effectively for children’s current and future learning and communicating about children’s learning and progress?” ACEQA Information sheet – Documentation updated 26 May 2014 copy.docx

For further great information go to this document:

Information sheet – Guidelines for documenting children’s learning

Remember, it is what you do, how you support and interact with that child that is meaningful to them, along with the play, in that moment. Being prepared for play and the developmental learning moment, is what documentation is for.
‘Til next time, have fun.

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