Monday, August 8, 2011

portfolios - making children's learning visible in preschool

Many moons ago when I first started teaching. records of children's learning were kept in the office for teacher's eyes only.  Today our children's portfolios - or journals as we call them - are kept in baskets in the library area and are shared with children, teachers and families. 

Through journals, learning has become visible and an experience to be shared.

It warms the cockles of my heart when I see this in action - each day children share their journals with their families, with each other and with their teachers:

Families are encouraged to add their own stories and photographs to their child's journal which helps to bridge the gap between home and preschool.

When a different family member drops a child at preschool they are dragged straight to the library to view the "special book".

Being able to read and share their own journals allows children to revisit learning experiences time and time again - deepening understanding and building on previous work and ideas. 

As a Progressive School community it is important that documentation is a democratic process that involves the whole community - teachers, children and families are all free to add to the journals.

 The journals are kept next to the writing area so children can easily add to their them if they wish.

When we first introduced journals about six years ago, the concept was as new to the children as it was to the staff and families.  Like us, it took time to work out what the books would mean to them.

Initially there were some children who wanted to make their mark by scribbling on as many pages as they could.  Others were a bit obsessed with filling as many as they could.  Then there were those who could really care less.

Over time, a wonderful culture of ownership and pride has developed with these books and they are treated with great respect.  The beauty of a multi-age classroom is that there are always older children to pass along this culture to the younger ones.

For children to have their own special book about them, their families and their friends and experiences at preschool helps to build a sense that what they do each day is special - that they are special.

What about you?  How are portfolios or journals used in your classroom?


  1. Could I ask whether you add something to this every day... if so how? and if not how exactly do you add to it? Thanks so much for your time and thank you for sharing... your post was really helpful!
    A kindergarten teacher in Millmerran QLD

  2. I soooo want to do this, but with a super busy class of 15, HOW???

  3. I love your post,It's so inspiring. We did 'Our Learning Journey' with preschoolers and I always wanted chn to have their own special books. Seeing this has given me hope. Yes it's possible. Cant wait to start them...