Are your learning journals outstanding and relevant?
Learning journals vary greatly from setting to setting and commonly many learning journals are now completed through online apps and websites. As there is no clear set way of completing a learning journal it can sometimes be difficult to judge what should be included; whether there is too much or too little, photos or no photos? Colourful writing and art work? . With increasing pressure on practitioners to complete paperwork learning journals are becoming harder to complete and becoming more and more standardised. Learning journals are an important piece to keep as they provide the necessary evidence and support all tracking and development documents. They also show a clear path of the child’s learning journey, evidencing starting points, progress and interests. This in turn helps to support planning and ensures every child has their individual learning needs met. Not only are they important for practitioners, they are also incredibly important for parents. They provide valuable and treasured stories, photos, and key milestones in their child’s development. They become much loved keepsakes that are fondly looked over for years and ensure that all parents feel fully included in their child’s development. Also if used regularly and if practitioners promote child input they can become valuable to the children where they take pride and pleasure from seeing their own work and photos used and treasured. This can be a huge confidence boost for some children to know that they are appreciated and their work is seen as special and valuable.
What makes a good learning journal?
Follow these top tips to ensure your learning journals contain all the things they need for the child, practitioners and parents:
- Keep it personal to each child – You should be able to look over a whole class of learning journals and see different achievements and milestones in each one
- ‘Wow moments’ – Try to record real moments that are goals, next steps and true achievements for that child. This displays how far a child really has come in their learning
- Next steps – Always include next steps for each wow moment to show you are supporting learning and your planning. Leave space to evidence when these next steps have been achieved
- Evidence – Always try to include some evidence of the ‘wow moment’ whether it be a photo, observation or parent comment
- Parent Comments – Try to encourage parents to add post it notes, comments or photos to their child’s learning journal. An effective way to do this is to have the learning journal out during parents evenings with pens for the parents to add comments to. This shows great parent partnerships.
- Short outline – A very quick short story, outline of what has been achieved and what made the moment wow. Some settings like to write this as if it is a story being told to the child e.g ” Today you managed you count from 1-10 all by yourself. You used the cubes to help you and we are all incredibly proud of you”
- EYFS links – A development matters link to show which areas f the EYFS are being supported and promoted
- All about me – It is nice to stick an all about me sheet in the front so you are aware of the child’s interests, age on starting, room, key person.
Theres some great examples of learning journals here –