Documentation: A Hard to Reach Place

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Some educators experience difficulty documenting young children's work in early childhood settings because of a limited understanding of the importance of documentation, what or how to document, and the effective use of documentation; limited resources (time, tools, and assistance); or predetermined curricular guidelines. Some teachers, especially inexperienced early years teachers, have trouble engaging with children and documenting simultaneously, revealing a crucial misunderstanding about the purpose of documenting. Teachers at Reggio Emilia-inspired schools throughout the United States use many forms of documentation to enhance the qualities of children's experiences in preschool classrooms. This article addresses the dilemmas teachers face in implementing documentation in order to assist them as they move from standards-based teaching and teacher-determined content to a more constructivist approach to teaching. Ideas for using documentation shared by the authors will allow young children to construct their own knowledge and curiosity, making learning more meaningful to them and more visible to others.

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