EYFS Learning Journey
Every young child needs their own learning journey document if they are working within the EYFS. No exceptions can be made for part timers or children who only come a few hours a week until they are school age, when you no longer have to comply with the learning and development requirements of the EYFS.
So how do you write it all up? There are lots of different ways, but here are some ideas to think about...
Using the EYFS as a guide
When a new child starts, find out as much as you can from them and their parents about their 'starting points'. If other settings / professionals will talk to you, jot down what they tell you as well. This will be the start of the child’s folder and is nicer if it features a starting points photo of the child at play or a handprint;
Do some short 'baseline' observations covering each area of learning and development so you know what age and stage they are working within. Once you have made your decision, browse through so you know what you are looking for and use the examples of things to do next - their 'next steps' - to give you ideas.
Making up a folder
What goes in the folder? This is a common question and some childminders get very concerned about how they are laying it all out. The answer is that there is no given way to set these things up, so you can do whatever you feel most comfortable with doing.
- Child’s starting points information, with notes from the child, parents and other settings or professionals as relevant;
- Photographs - with written parental permission, photographs are great for showing how brilliant your provision is and how much the children are doing.
TIP - the EYFS says that you need to offer a balance of indoor and outdoor play opportunities – so do not forget to take your camera outside as proof that this is what you are doing!
- Photo observations with ideas for next steps and a quick note of how the observation links to the EYFS L & D grids;
- Written observations are slightly more detailed, but still do not need to be essays. Instead think of them as notes of the child’s achievements. Again they should link to the EYFS L & D grids and if relevant show next steps;
- ‘Summative assessments’ is a big phrase which describes annual or termly reports, which you use to bring together a child’s achievements over the past months to share with parents and ask for their comments. It is a good idea to go through the child’s folder with the child as well and get them to make comments about what they have done or what they want to do next. You can write these in for the child;
- Wow sheets – I have seen these used and they look great! Make up a sheet with stars and every time the child achieves something that makes you go ‘wow’ write it up for them. Ask parents to share any wow moments from home to include on the sheets;
- Moving on sheets – I have seen these used and again they are useful to show progression. They can be filled out every term or so and show how the child is changing as he develops. They are simple boxes showing each area of L & D and show a summary of achievements and ideas for next steps for the next term;
- Parents comments – anything the parent says that shows you are working in partnership, write it down and put it in the file. I tend to write up a sheet of parents comments for each term, then start a new sheet;
- Comments from other settings / professionals – again, if you can claw any comments or information out of them and write it down to show evidence of sharing. If they share paperwork etc with you, pop that in as well. A friend suggested the other day taking photos of any work that comes back from other settings and popping those in the child’s file along with notes about how you can work in partnership by enhancing what the other setting has done – seems like a good idea to me;
- Individual planning notes – these are part of your observations. You observe, assess what you have seen and heard and then plan for the next steps in the child's learning journey. You might also note how you have changed group planning to follow a child's particular interest or learning style and this will form part of your individual planning;
- Routines – for children who come part time and maybe do not get involved in many activities because by the time they have eaten, toileted and washed hands it is time to put their coats back on and go off to another setting, a routine is useful. It shows just how much of the EYFS you are meeting with that child by giving healthy food, supporting toileting skills, helping them to learn to put on their own coats, talking about things that happen in their worlds while they are eating, supplying favourite toys for the short time they have free to play etc. Routines written up and adjusted every term, plus the occasional wow comment or photo observation will make a nice momento to take home when the child leaves your care.
Some childminders panic because the child’s folders look a bit thin. The thing to remember is that if a child is part time, you simply can’t collect the evidence... plus not all children do something stunning every day! The trick is to know when to make a note and when something is normal and expected.
Thoughts from an Ofsted inspector
An Ofsted inspector commented recently to one childminder that she was sick of seeing photos of John at the farm with a rabbit, smiling into the camera... she would much rather see a photo of John a few days later, playing with a toy rabbit and remembering his experiences of the visit by learning how to care for the rabbit, while singing rabbit songs, wearing rabbit ears he has made and reading rabbit books.
This would show much better how the childminder has actually tapped into John’s interest rather than just having taken him on an outing.
Help with Learning Journeys
I have written a number of e-books about children's Learning Journey folders including -
E-book 28 - Learning Journeys - including some sample paperwork
Illustrated e-book 1 - Learning Journeys - has multiple chapters of illustrated Learning Journey paperwork taking you from the child's 'All about Me' form and welcome notes to the end of their time with you... along with explanations of how it might be used.
Illustrated e-book 5 - Learning Journey year - has multiple illustrated documents to take you from January to December of a child's learning journey.
All my e-books can be purchased from my Knutsford Childminding website.