As well as being an effective observation tool in anecdotal form, journaling in Preschool is a wonderful way of keeping a record of a child’s journey of learning and experiences.
There are lots of way to keep a journal - it can be teacher led or child led - or a mixture of both which I believe is best.
If you take our preprinted Learning Journals as a starting point you can work from there to really explore how journals can enrich children’s learning and add to your classroom.
Children (and adults) get a real sense of pride and achievement when they see their own work documented and kept in a special place or displayed nicely
Journals make a fascinating and wonderful token to hand to parents at the end of the year when their child’s progression can clearly be seen - it is an insight into a world parents do not really have access to on a day to day basis.
Now you have your lovely new learning journals waiting to be filled over the next school year.
What to put in them?
How much is child led, and how much is teacher directed?
What is the aim of the Journal?
You want a balance in the Journal of children’s work and items carefully chosen and edited by you which reflect the child’s journey through preschool.
You want to give parents a visible and real idea of their child’s time in preschool
Ideally you want to show care and understanding and respect of each child’s work and individuality
When to use the Journal?
You can decide when are the appropriate times to add to the journal, you can collect and curate the items and then add them
OR You can leave the journal out at set times for the children to choose to take them and add to them - have a discussion first so that the children really understand that their journals are special and not just for random use. Show them how to handle and open their Journal carefully and find a blank page for making their next drawing or story.
OR You can leave a tray of paper out which is specifically for journal use - the child marks something important on the paper - an event, something they did or enjoyed and it is then added to their journal at a later stage
OR a mixture of all of the above
What to put in a Journal?
A mixture of children’s own work - drawings, craft and writing
Photos - of the child throughout the year - working, playing, a visitor to the school, on a trip out of school, a birthday party etc
Teacher led content - handprints, self portrait, notes on what the child enjoys, what they have said, who their friends are…
Practice in writing their name, their initial letter
I drew this on the first day. I drew this on the last day - this really shows progression in mark making
All about me - eg. I am 4, my favorite food is, weather I like
I like coming to school because…
Things to draw in a journal - rather than dictate what should be drawn you can give prompts to the children
Using prompts gives focus to what the children add to their journal - it can also make it more meaningful as a record of their time with you in school
Prompts such as a story you have read, music you listened to, a visitor a special occasion etc or one of the following ideas:
Family - my family
House - my house
Trip out of school
People who visit the school
Their own name
Pre written journal sections
In order to follow a child’s learning progression in the journal there are pre written spaces for skills that have been accomplished or tried
Skills in preschool can be any new accomplishment that the child has achieved:
Exploring water or sand or gloop
Getting used to new textures
Sitting in circle and listening
Using the slide
Jumping hopping - gross motor
Speaking out in group time
Holding a pencil
Building a tower
Hanging up coat
Putting on coat
Helping - Handing out the lunches/paint brushes - having a job
Date everything - every single entry - as this gives an accurate timeline of their progression
If you write in the journal - to describe what the child has drawn for instance don’t add your own words - ask the child the story behind the drawing and use their own words
At first when asked to “draw” most children will draw a large “scribble” of one colour this is still relevant and the child may still have a story to match their picture.
You can begin to progress from this by asking them to use two colours, then three and then give them a simple shape to begin their drawing with - a circle can be turned into a face, a body, a wheel etc
Some children lack confidence when asked to draw as they may feel their drawing isn’t an accurate representation. Until their confidence grows they may prefer to document their ideas using glue and scraps or paint. You can also show a child how to draw basic ideas without actually doing it for them
Sharing our Journals
Share the children’s journals with them - this can be done when you write in them next to a picture they have drawn or after you have added some photos, perhaps ask the children to comment on the photos. This gives the children a sense of pride and also familiarity with their own work.
As the year progresses and the children grow in confidence and get to know each other you can take the journals out and share them with each other - give each child their journal to write in/draw in and then let them show their journal to the child next to them and chat about what they have written
Further Journal work and extensions
If you would like to extend the idea of journaling further into your preschool setting you can have a separate blank journal for each child - some A4 pages folded in half and stapled together down the middle fold make a good notebook style journal - leave these in a special place where children can get them - these can be used as inspiration and additional journal space and mean that you do not have to hand out the original journal which can often lead to all the space being used up in the first term!
The blank child’s journal can be added to the original journal later on - in its entirety or parts of it.
You can theme your extra blank journals - perhaps have one for our community/nature/science experiments that you do in group work and the children can then document what happened - this can be used for all sorts of science and nature - how butterflies grow and change, what happens when you add vinegar to baking soda, colour mixing, how seeds grow etc
Our own 'Learning Journals' are available to order here at this linkHappy journaling.