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30.8: Documentation and Families

  • Page ID
    • Amanda Taintor
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    Documentation not only guides curriculum planning and provides evidence of an infant or toddler’s learning, but it also offers an easy, effective way to engage families in participating in their child’s learning plan. A note, photo, or work sample invites families to interpret the caregivers' observations and reflective planning.[1] Caregivers may combine photos with notes to create a book of an infant or toddler’s learning experiences to share with the infant or toddler’s family.

    Families appreciate seeing their infant or toddler’s progression, how they interact with others, and the types of activities their infant or toddler engages in. Families have the right to be part of the process taking place in the school (Cagliari, 2004). They are also an essential source of information during the reflection process. Families can answer questions and help interpret an infant or toddler's behaviors and interactions. They can continue to share what they have observed at home and the strategies that work for them. By including families in documentation reflection, the infant or toddler’s family members will often add insights and a perspective that the caregivers may not have considered.[2] Regularly sharing observations and actively pursuing a family's input and perspectives on their infant or toddler gives caregivers fuller views of an infant or toddler as an individual. Discussing observations through documentation provides families the opportunity to work in partnership or take the lead in their infant or toddler's care and education. Sharing reflections on infant and toddler observations helps create a mutually respectful environment that promotes the infant’s, toddler's and family’s needs.[3]

    The following example from volume 3 of the California Preschool Curriculum Framework (CDE 2013, 35) illustrates how caregivers use documentation to invite families to join them in work:

    During the small-group face-drawing activity, Clayton was picking out pencils for his skin color when his mother arrived to pick him up. She knelt near the table as Connie read the name printed on the colored pencil that Clayton had selected. “This one says, sienna brown.’ What do you think, Clayton?” Connie asked as she moved the tip of the pencil near his arm. “Is that your color?” Clayton smiled at his mother: “I’m sienna brown, mommy. Which one do you want to be?” A few minutes later, when Clayton was retrieving his things from his cubby, his mother confided in Connie how much she had enjoyed picking out her skin color with Clayton. She had been uncertain about how to talk with Clayton about skin color because she was of European-American background and Clayton’s father was African American. Most of the family members living nearby were Caucasian. They discussed the possibility of doing an activity at the next parent meeting. All parents could explore the variety of flesh-toned colored pencils and even blend different tints of homemade play dough that they could take home to enjoy with their infant and toddlers.

    [1] Early Education and Support. Best Practices for Planning Curriculum for Young Children: The integrated nature of learning is in the public domain

    [2] Early Education and Support. Best Practices for Planning Curriculum for Young Children: The integrated nature of learning is in the public domain

    [3] U.S Department of Health and Human Services ECLKC Look at Me! Using Focused Child Observation with Infants and Toddlers is in the public domain.

    This page titled 30.8: Documentation and Families is shared under a mixed 4.0 license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Amanda Taintor.