Lately, I have been hearing a lot on social media about the extra burden on parents to step into a teaching role as the ‘home-school educator’. As a parent of older children, I appreciate this is no easy task. Interesting, I have heard very little coverage discussing the opportunity that teaching and learning can give parents to connect with their child (and themselves) in a new way.
This blog places fun, interest and enjoyment at the heart of learning from home during Covid-19. Please be aware, I acknowledge that many parents are already engaging in creative ways to keep children stimulated, nevertheless, a lot of us are also running out of fresh ideas. Although there are many ways to make learning fun; as an advocate of storytelling and narrative stories (the experiences children share with us), Learning stories will help capture their memories forever.
A learning story is both a visual document and a collective narrative account of a child’s learning experiences. It is a collection of recorded child observations over the course of a school year or as long as you continue to observe and record a child’s experiences. The adult adds the written element of the child’s story, this can be as short as one sentence, or it can be a as long as a page. For example,
Where Do I start? You start by observing your child at play. Next, you can select something that is of interest to your child, then, you begin to document the child’s play. In early childhood, it is during play that children learn the most valuable lessons. The observations and documents can include; photos, note-taking, drawings, paintings, and more. Finally, the data you collect can be put together in a scrapbook, folder or portfolio. Your child will love to decorate this document (that is all about them) with drawings and stickers. You have now started your child’s ‘Learning Story’ (Carr, 2001).
What advantage is a Learning Story, is a photograph not the same?
The answer is no. A photograph will be remembered, however, the written narrative accounts, children’s transcribed utterances and the visual displays of development over time provide the rationale for presenting the child’s learning in this format. For early childhood educators, an important task for nurturing a child’s learning is to plan, implement, record and reflect on children’s experiences throughout their time in school. Their learning story provides the information needed for further planning to enhance the individual child’s learning and development (Carr and Lee, 2012).
‘Interests of the child’, refers to any subject, topic or ideas which stimulate a child’s curiosity. This might sound very easy; however, it requires you to be responsive and can adapt to the child’s interests. We do not always wish to engage in some of the things the child is interested in. For example, I do not like digging up worms, however, if that is what the child is interested in it is critical to his or her learning that I explore this area of nature with the child. This process is also staying through to the philosophy of a holistic emergent curriculum.
Emergent Curriculum is child-initiated, collaborative and sensitive to the child’s needs. Therefore, rather than pick a topic for your child to explore, you observe your child at play, and it will not be long before you identify an area your child is interested in (Worms and other interesting species).
Where is the best place to capture a Learning Story? An environment where a child can fuel their learning is important to develop child-led activities. The learning environment should provide an opportunity for many types of play. For example, sensory play (handwashing), exploratory play (baking cookies), and YES even risky play (climbing trees). By observing your child at play new areas of interest will often reveal themselves and you can keep adding to their evolving Learning Story.
Recap: Learning Stories will capture your child’s experiences during COVID-19. Keep it safe and it will become part of their childhood memories which in years they will enjoy sharing with their little owns.
Thank you for reading, I hope you found this useful.
If you have any questions drop an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Further information on Learning Stories can be found at the following links:
Carr, M. (2001). Assessment in early childhood settings: Learning stories. London: Paul Chapman.
Carr, M. and Lee, W. (2012). Learning Stories: Constructing Learner Identities in Early Education. London: SAGE Publications.
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