We think one way that we work especially well with our parents is the information we share through our very special learning journals. Since the EYFS was introduced, we have developed our learning journals and we now believe that they are an excellent way to keep a formative assessment of each child's progress.
Each child has their own unique book. We include observations, photographs and examples of the children's drawings, mark-making and emergent writing as well as possible next steps, which are formed by the staff members' sound knowledge of the EYFS.
The children are proud to take their 'special books' home and show them to their families and extended families. They often then come back with photographs and observations from home. A number of children feel very attached to their books and will ask to view them during the session, taking time to show their friends. The children have true ownership of them, maybe because they are so individual.
We have also found that the books are a good tool to use when showing new parents the pre-school. Recently one little boy was very happy to show his book to visiting parents and talk about all the exciting experiences that had been recorded.
We all put a lot of effort into each child's journal, and feel it is definitely worth it! When we asked a selection of parents what ways were most helpful when providing information regarding their child's learning and development, they invariably cited their child's journal.
The challenge is having the time to update them. We recognise the commitment staff put in to complete their key children's journals, so we take this into account when calculating actual hours worked. We are also going to do a trial on certain days when one member of staff is given office time to complete their journals instead of tidying up - an excellent idea from our deputy manager, Jemma.
We also felt how worthwhile is the energy we put in after reading one comment from a parent: 'It was so lovely to see a snapshot of what Fleur has been up to since she started Oakey Dokey's. It's like a little reflection of your child's personality and captures her development. I love it! I know that these books will be treasured memories in years to come, so thank you for all your hard work and attention.'