THE learning story

I come from a background of Early Childhood Education and have a Primary teachers qualification. I have done various forms of feed back to parents and various ways of recording learning over the last 20 something years. I was never much of a fan, I still have problems, of THE learning story as modeled by many ECEs until I watched what older kids did with these stories and went through Playcentre. Playcentre is built around having amateurs; people with varying degrees of education, interest in education, mostly people who’ve had no contact with children until they have their own, people who receive little training. These keen dedicated people are the ones providing the education and doing the writing of learning stories. It’s brilliant. It turns out that styles of learning stories is proportional to the number of people writing them… just about everyone does it differently. This is awesome, bollocks to those who feel there is a right way. My child spends hours looking at her book. I sit in my tower of adultness being sniffy about quality while she shows me how wonderful it is that; most are hand written (some more legible than others), spelling isn’t crucial (my stories), just because you aren’t good with kids doesn’t make you a bad observer and vice versa, everybody sees different stuff, thinks different things are important, some people like words, some are nerdy, some lazy… So many aspects of humanity are modeled to my child in these stories. I re-read bits to her, she laughs at the photos, embellishes on what’s in it.

Helena actually does reflect on her learning through these stories and makes her own judgement about the stories. For her accuracy of the event is important- it must reflect her history as she remembers it. I remember as a new entrant teacher having kids show me their writing and sometimes you could tell it was getting them down- like when you are learning a new language and you’ve got a few hundred words and it’s all awesome and then you want to talk about an idea and you realise you haven’t touched the sides and the job is bigger than your life. .. so I’d get the kids to take stock of what they had learnt. Writing is easy like that -obviously quantifiable, whereas a lot of the stuff I value isn’t. Watching Helena “read” her Playcentre book shows me she can tell with the less quantifiable stuff that she is learning “that was when I thought…” “now I would say..  ” she reads the context, the stuff around the edges.

Helena’s favorites:

“I liked doing this with Rachel we tried so hard to get it through”
“I like you reading me the words”

My favorites:

She got to bring her friend to Playcentre and they had the best time – how cool is that
I remember finally getting round to making a recipe Helena had wanted to do for ages… and I do like the suggestions at the bottom. Ta

Now we are homeschooling. I can see that having some kind of book with learning stories for her to look over is important. First problem is that I have to write them and I actually don’t like writing them, I don’t like putting down anything but facts. There won’t be the wonderful eclectic mix of her Playcentre folder… How do I decide what was significant to her? Will she know at the time? They will be hand made, sigh…

or shall I delegate to her?

This is our attempt to write one together about which a whole learning story about cooperation, focus, adult vs child etc could be written and is probably the learning she will reflect on when she reads it later it’ll be “that’s where you got frustrated mummy and I had to…”


I chose the topic – it was important to me to remember that she has had the idea of selling stuff to make money for so long and I was the impediment thinking only of the possibility of failure. I want to remember her perseverance with the idea and her confidence of success. I am not sure if she felt that this was an example of anything spectacular as of course it worked and she made enough money, the toy however IS important. It was interesting what she felt was important – I had to write it by hand and use joined up writing (I didn’t even know she knew about joined up writing…). The title was very important and she likes to read it over and over. I felt she should do the drawing, I kept the receipt but the heart is all hers. Her words were a lot shorter with no detail, I asked questions (that we both knew the answers to -how annoying) to prompt her to add detail. It is even more interesting what it was important to leave out which my loyalty means I can not discuss. I will say that Helena refuses to remember bad stuff -tears etc…

I like that after I said she should sign it she put my name too, recognising my help? valuing it? or just knowing it wasn’t truly hers. She seems proud of it.

There are some wonderful examples on TKI:

Click to access ECEBooklet14Full.pdf

Learning stories are non scientific, usually observation of not for but they seem more real to me than all the books I have from school with my handwriting etc.