An important aspect of working within the Early Years, is building and documenting a child’s EYFS learning journey. The learning journey maps individual development which can be later used when considering reporting and the Early Learning Goals at the end of Reception. The learning journey may comprise a range of evidence, including images, artwork, mark-making, videos, sound clips, and observations. This technology can capture ‘key moments’ exhibiting learning that takes place within play and adult-led activities. If a teacher creates an observation, some technology assessment tools, such as Tiny Tracker, offer the ability to type or record an observation with an image.

An EYFS learning journey provides a picture of the child. This picture may be built upon further with support from families. Caregivers can share their ideas about specific evidence and offer greater depth to an observation, through their own knowledge of the child. Early childhood educators agree that what we experience in the classroom is only one piece of the puzzle when understanding a child.

Sharing the EYFS learning journey also allows caregivers to follow their child’s progress, and provide further home support or enhancements, where appropriate. For example, a child struggling to understand concepts in English may benefit from a caregiver translating and discussing key learning concepts into their home language. A teacher may share a photo or short video with a description of an area the child struggled with. Sharing this information digitally takes very little extra time or effort for teachers. Similarly, a digital learning journey can be shared within wider teams, to ascertain any gaps in learning and areas in which the child excels. Using this information, the specialist and support teachers can provide further enhancements for the child as well as support mechanisms, where necessary.

When looking to record a specific milestone reached in a child’s development, using the option to video that moment for the EYFS learning journey can provide a further dimension to the record. The language used and experience can be viewed in detail, ensuring the observation is accurate. Then this information can later be analysed by a practitioner for accuracy and provides a second chance to experience that moment, to fully understand the learning taking place.

When creating an EYFS learning journey, it is important to provide quality comments and observations rather than quantity. For example, it is not necessary to include many pictures of a child completing a similar activity, unless a level of development can be seen within that activity. A child may return multiple times to building blocks, but unless a change in the activity or environment is seen, such as collaborating with another child or expanding the building such as adding characters or creating something new within the building.

As children should be allowed to look over their learning journey, some educators believe observations should be recorded in ‘child-speak’ so the child can read back the teacher’s feedback. The documentation, therefore, is meaningful to the teachers, parents, and child (Howes, Wells, and Cave, 2020). An example of this would be recording a child in a role-play activity. The teacher would record what was said but also comment on the learning seen, in a positive way. If the child has the chance to read this, they then can understand how they interact and play contributes to their development and learning.

Children enjoy feedback and feel proud of their accomplishments. If a specific piece of exciting work has been recorded in the learning journey, this can be shown to the whole class, providing a picture prompt for the children to further discuss their task. Showing a child their attainment in a particular area of the EYFS learning journey can support their self-esteem and allow for metacognition. Metacognition refers to a child being aware of how they learn best and using these strategies in the future. One example of this would be using a carpet tile to form letters with their fingers, in addition to writing on a whiteboard. A discussion can ensue as to how creating this letter on the carpet before writing helped supported their knowledge of letter formation.

Author: Jess Gosling

Jess Gosling is an international teacher based in Taiwan. She can be contacted via her website or Twitter @JessGosling2. She has published a book to support those interested in international teaching, purchase links available on her website.

Reference

Wendy Howes, Jacky Wells and Sally Cave (November 24th, 2020) Learning Journeys-all about you, Nursery World blog. Available at: https://www.nurseryworld.co.uk/features/article/learning-journeys-all-about-you. (Accessed: 3rd February 2022).