Come on a journey with me through time. Watch with me the growth of a flower, the wind in the trees, the chirping of the bird known to take haven in the shelter across the playground. Come on a journey with me as we capture the aesthetics of the natural environment that intrigues you so, bundling this up digitally in attempts to showcase these precious moments in days, weeks or even years put forward in the future. Come on a journey with me just so you can see the honourable opportunities you shared that show us, your teacher, your educator, your secure base, how to be.
When the term ‘story’ is thrown into a conversation there can be many interpretations on what this
might stand to be. Some imagine the delicate illustrations inside of a children’s book whilst others
dive into the deeper explorations of identity. You can have stories with just images and stories with
just words, yet the element they hold in common is the intent.
Intentional story writing
As educators and teachers in a profession of early education there lies a privilege that comes with
being welcomed into a space with children. A privilege not recognised enough in modern society yet
through intentionality this image can continue to grow to change for the better. Intentionality as a
teaching practice is heavy in conversation throughout the sector. This is because it is identified as an
element that has the power to make a significant impact on the quality of the education provided to
children in early learning services.
Assessing children’s learning is much simpler to achieve through the process of story writing because
it allows educators to paint a picture of children in a particular light – showcasing their strengths,
skills, interests and needs at any given time. When proposing intent in the documentation style of
learning stories you are considerate of your own ideas and fascinations of children’s growth and
development – enticed by their connections with the world you yearn to share this with others as
but one stepping stone to making a difference to the image of the child in your community.
Intentionality in this sense is reflected through the structuring of the story (containing the
observation, your thoughts on the learning and an identification for the future) and yet this does not
represent conformity, nor should it. The individuality of an educator can be celebrated in a learning
story equally to the capturing of a child’s engagement in their learning environment, although it is
only through the intent of the writer that this can be manufactured in such a way.
Traces of professionalism
Story writing is an art – an art of the educator and with time this style of documentation may grow
to change in directions we cannot predict. Our view on what makes a great learning story is then
welcomed to appreciate the weaving of teaching principles and practices amongst an observation of
a child in play. Bringing together what you stopped to notice in the child’s involvement and
intertwine it with what you believe this might mean for their learning. What better an opportunity to
captivate families, educators and community members about how you enact professionalism in your
teaching than through a learning story.
The Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) is stocked full of examples of how teachers can guide
and support children’s development across pre-determined outcomes. The structuring of the
outcomes section containing valuable information to help educators pull together the everyday
action in practice, held conveniently alongside snippets of when you might see children trying to
enhance their understanding and growth. Specifically designed content that supports the
commencement of many learning stories.
Writing your own path forward
Story writing requires educators to develop a sense of identity that sets expectations for society to
challenge their traditional views on children. It requires a sense of bravery because your work is
viewed by others outside of your close working circle but bravery is something that can be
developed over time through practice.
Practice, in essence, is the key to enhancing the quality of your writing – because with practice comes
the opportunity to make mistakes and explore what it is that best resonates with the people you are
writing to – the children and their families.
With a clear connection to intentionality, learning stories can be written directly to children, almost
like a letter to the child that makes visible what you, the educator, had discovered about them.
Assessment of learning in this sense has never been so easy when you just imagine you and the child
sitting in the room together, the child snuggling up under your arm getting ready to hear a recount on
what you noticed about their participation in the social world.
Some find the beginning difficult because there is this traditional daybook account of documentation
that can become easily superficial and misrepresented and this is to be acknowledged. However, a
growth mindset can help to build capacity away from the stagnation path because essentially if you
don’t use it, you lose it and this is significant in the world of assessment for learning- Kei tua o te
Paragraph structuring to enhance flow
The flow that comes through an effectively written story comes from the strategic planning of every
sentence and paragraph. The secrets that many early childhood professionals mightn’t ever share
include the proposal that some sentences and phrases are transferable between contexts – which
means you can reuse them. This is particularly true when you are noticing a particular learning
concept occurring within a group of children at the same time. Some transferable story starters that
are reflective of the EYLF and promote connectivity and flow could include:
‘Children interact with others in a variety of ways and today I noticed their sense of being when
‘Belonging means different things to different people and ____ is showing this through their ____’
‘What does it mean to develop a sense of ‘becoming’? ___ demonstrated something that I consider
an appropriate example of this when…’
You will notice that these examples are adaptable and can easily be extended with another
descriptive sentence where necessary. What is important to remember at this point is the intention
of the story, what happened, what does this tell you about the child’s learning and what do you want
to do with this information?
These reflective points will always remain centred within your documentation processes and as the
journey of education and teaching in the early years continues on towards quality improvement, educators are encouraged to play more with words and sentences from the EYLF when constructing
stories about children – because this document holds all of the answers…you just need to go looking.
Sarah is a university trained early childhood educator, who lives in NSW Australia. Sarah is the owner and operator of SREED, an early education consultancy business designed to enhance the access and availability of quality professional development in regional and remote areas. She also works as the educational leader in a long day care service, supporting and mentoring a team of educators to facilitate a curriculum that fosters children’s developing levels of wellbeing and involvement. In her spare time, Sarah enjoys family bike rides and walks with her husband and two girls aged 7 and 2.
Sarah is an advocate for sharing knowledge and understandings with other professionals which is the driving force within her passion for writing.