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Documenting the Connections

By: CATHERINE MC HUGH

Tuesday 29 August 2017

On Saturday, 9th of September, Early Childhood Ireland has the pleasure of welcoming one of the most influential people in the field of early years’ practice and I for one cannot wait to meet the inspirational Wendy Lee.

My relationship with documentation has changed dramatically in recent years and I know that the words of Wendy Lee have impacted substantially on the view I now have today. I have always had a passion for working in the early years, building relationships with children, hearing what they say, how they say it and watching as their play becomes extremely complex within just a few minutes. I often gazed with complete astonishment as the day to day tasks unfolded before my eyes. I saw the value of everything that happened but felt that time was too precious to be taken away from the here and now to give up to documentation. Then it dawned on me. Why am I keeping all of this to myself? Why do I not capture as much as I can to share with the child’s family, with the community and of course with the child him/herself. Documentation goes beyond the paper it’s written on – it has the ability to be a powerful communication tool that brings the family together, builds the child’s confidence in their identity and also makes the child visible in the community where they live and belong. Wendy Lee’s powerful words come to mind;

Hear how communities of practice are being nourished with ideas and reflections that build a commitment to each other and bring into view the power of listening deeply; being present; and creating opportunities to connect, communicate, and contribute.”

 

The best means for connecting, communicating, and contributing while working with children is by using documentation. Not purely with assessment forms or set out templates to fill in of observations but in finding the most natural and effective way of gathering ‘with the children’, as the day unfolds, what works for you. Each photograph you take has immense value and is a compelling piece of documentation. As is every anecdote, conversation or play story that you are fortunate enough to have captured. Having many types of observations can help lead to that ‘rich profile’ of a child that demonstrates that you care about knowing that child and you want to know that child. The system that worked for me was focused around gathering a ‘bank of words’ that I then used as much as I could for learnings stories, planning and documentation in general. I speak some more about this in the blog capturing the wonder of childhood which you can read here:  https://www.earlychildhoodireland.ie/blog/capturing-wonder-childhood/

 

Learning stories are one of the most precious things that can be done that contributes to the rich profile that you are trying to piece together. The child may show an interest in something and when an educator not only recognises the interest but builds on it while all the time tuned in to how the child acts, what they say and where the story goes the educator is truly demonstrating that they believe in the childhoods unfolding before their eyes.

I am very fortunate to be part of the team in Early Childhood Ireland who receives and reviews the precious stories of our sector. We are time and time again blown away by the time, space and respect that is shown to the children in each of the learning stories we receive. On the 9th of September, we will be listening to Wendy Lee in admiration, but more importantly, we will be listening to her knowing that we have come across some of the most amazing and inspiring practice in the world through our learning stories in Early Childhood Ireland. Bookings can be made online.

“I think people enter early childhood to make a difference, and we can everyday make that difference, by being there in that moment for children” Wendy Lee, The Gathering, 2013.

Take a look at some of Early Childhood Ireland’s winning Learning Stories: https://www.earlychildhoodireland.ie/work/quality-practice/awards/learning-stories/

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