Some parents may look into early childhood classrooms and assume that the children are just playing. As educators, it is our job to communicate that even though it may just look like play, there is much more taking place. One way to educate parents about this is through direct conversations, but those may not always be possible. Another way to convey what is being learned is through documentation panels.
Documentation panels are visual representations of the learning taking place in the classroom, as well as a written statement concerning the purpose of the activity. The panels can take several forms, but if their purpose is to convey information to parents, then the following items may want to be included:
-A statement of the learning objectives for the activity. This could also take the form of an opening question that led to studying the particular topic.
-Pictures of children engaged in their learning.
-Samples of the students’ completed work. If the work cannot be mounted on the wall because it is 3-dimensional or very large, then a picture of the work can be displayed instead.
-Direct quotes from the students either from while they were engaged in the activity or when they discuss their work.
-Information regarding when/where the activity occurred. For example, if the activity took place with the entire class, during “small group”, etc.
Documentation panels can represent learning that occurs during a short period of time, or they can be continually evolving representations of an extended learning experience.
Creating and posting documentation panels provides a method of informing parents of the events in the classroom, and also helps them to understand all of the skills and knowledge their children are gaining.