Excessive documentation in early childhood: What is real quality and how do we measure it?
It seems we never really get the balance right with our good intentions to increase the quality of what we provide for young children in their early childhood years of education.
We seem to confuse what I call the “tools” of our teaching with in fact the key ingredients of our teaching and learning.
What do I mean?
Tools= Cameras, Portfolios, Journals, learning stories, videos, DVD’s, Photos, displays, communication boards, narratives, etc, etc,
What are the Key ingredients?= Relationships, actually relating to children without a camera in front of their eyes, or a keyboard tapping away during a session interrupting the time we should actually be talking with, listening to and interacting with the children.
In our narrow interpretation of “proving”, “documenting”, “communicating to parents”, “capturing the learning”, “sharing with parents and children”, enabling the voice of the child”, we are in fact, moving further and further away from spending time with children and parents.
Attempting to measure quality of early childhood with documentation and photo evidence is a flawed and narrow measure right from the start.
We always seems to swing the pendulum from one extreme to another.
We now have so much so called “accountability, attempt to prove quality, documentation, tick the box, analyze yourself, etc etc, it has taken us away from reflecting up what actually makes real quality early childhood education.
Photos and learning stories actually don’t.
This is what does.
Small group sizes of about 20 maximum for 4 year olds, less for under 4’s.
At least 2 qualified staff with these groups.
Early childhood courses that give much more emphasis on how to teach young children and much less on all the 500 theoretical perspectives of education that academics are currently arguing about.
Funding for resources and much higher pay for staff.
Staff who actually really want to teach rather than staff who get into a course as their third or fourth option because they didn’t get into their preferred course.
Early childhood educators contact our office every day struggling with the overload of documentation or actually don’t have their weekends now because they are busy with their photo stories or simply spend much of their sessions taking photos, laminating and writing during the session.
That is not what early childhood educators are meant to be doing during sessions, regardless of whatever theoretical perspective you hold in early childhood.
Let’s reclaim early childhood for children, let’s reclaim relationships, high quality interactions and play based curriculum minus the intrusion of documentation, photos and typing during sessions and overexcited professionals( who are the ones not teaching anymore) who are like children in a toy shop with new things to play with who keep telling the teachers to document, document document.
I’m telling teachers to play, play, relate, relate and “be” for children.
We surely have gone completely mad with the latest amount of documentation linked to accountability linked to “quality”!!!!!