Thoughts on Documentation

Inspiring Pedagogy: “Educators are reflective practitioners who learn about children using various strategies. They listen, observe, document, and discuss with others, families in particular, to understand children as unique individuals. They observe and listen to learn how children make meaning through their experiences in the world around them. Educators consider their own practices and approaches and the impacts they have on children, families, and others. Educators use this knowledge, gained through observing and discussing with others, and their professional judgement to create contexts to support children’s learning, development, health, and well-being.” (HDLH, p.19)



I like the way Ontario’s Pedagogy for the Early Years, How Does Learning Happen? explains pedagogical documentation for its simplicity.

“Pedagogical documentation is about more than recording events – it is a means to learning about how children think and learn” (p. 21). Pedagogical documentation according to Ontario’s pedagogy for the early years is rather a “process to explore all of our questions about children” (p. 21).

How Does Learning Happen? refers to Reggio educator, Carlina Rinaldi suggesting that documentation is a “way of listening to children that helps us to learn about children during the course of their experiences and to make the learning visible to others for interpretation” (p. 21).



Inquiry places childrens’ questions and ideas, rather than solely those of the educator, at the centre of the learning experience. Childrens’ questions drive the learning process forward. The inquiry-based approach encourage children to ask and genuinely investigate their own questions about the world. The childrens’ learning is facilitated further by providing a variety of tools, resources, and experiences that enable learners to investigate, reflect, and rigorously discuss potential solutions to their own questions about a topic the class is studying. Natural Curiosity: A Resource for Teachers. Page 7



A reflective teacher . . .

  • examines his or her own reactions to children or their actions to understand their source
  • is curious about children’s play and watches it closely
  • documents details of children’s conversations and activities
  • takes time to study notes and photos to puzzle out what is significant
  • eagerly shares stories about children’s learning with families and co-workers
  • asks co-workers and children’s families for their insights
  • reads professional literature to learn more
  • shows children photos and stories of themselves to hear their views
  • changes the environment and materials to encourage new play and learning possibilities




Daily Documentation:

Documentation of children’s work in progress is viewed as an important tool in the learning process for children, teachers, and parents. Pictures of children engaged in experiences, their words as they discuss what they are doing, feeling and thinking, and the children’s interpretation of experience through the visual media are displayed daily as a graphic presentation of the dynamics of learning.



  • Making parents aware of children’s experiences
  • Maintaining parent involvement
  • Used as assessment and advocacy
  • Allowing for teachers to understand children better
  • Deeply discovering children’s work and thinking
  • Providing a venue for children to recall and value their own work and the process of that work
  • Facilitating communication and exchange ideas among educators




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