Making Children’s Learning Visible

Documenting children’s thinking and making it visible for teachers, families, administrators, the school community, and for the children themselves is “critical to effective teaching” (Southcott, 2015, p.34), and learning stories:

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• Are a form of pedagogical documentation and narration.
• Have a rich history of supporting educators’ understanding of what children can do and what they know.
• Are used by educators to document children’s learning and open a window into their own professional learning, as well as understanding children’s thinking(Southcott, 2015).
• Feature children’s experiences engaging in learning.
• Are written by educators and shared with families.
• Include “the voices of those present during the learning experience, such as the child, early childhood educator, and/or parent” …
• Not only highlight the actions of the child, but also “illuminate how educators support the child and extend learning. In this way, learning stories have the potential to reveal the reflections and actions of both children and educators in the classroom, capturing the complexity of learning and teaching” (Southcott, 2015, p.35).
• Are built on a question that is ‘owned by’ the educators and children and “draws on educators’ observations, artifacts, and classroom dialogue to create a rich picture of children’s thinking and learning” (Southcott, 2015, p. 37).
• Reveal the educator’s understanding of the children’s theory-making and ideas about the world around them; “learning stories zoom in to closely unpack this understanding” (Southcott, 2015, p. 37).

With the use of learning stories, children’s choices and languages become apparent to educators which also indicate to them where they are and direct them to where they need to go. The one thing educators need is to know what to look for and the more “precise and sharp the documentation created by the educators about the significant moment of learning, the clearer the children’s thinking is made visible” (Southcott, 2015, p.38). For that reason, I strongly believe that using Learning stories as narrative assessment can highly benefit the children, the educators and the families as opposed to the traditional forms of assessment.



Debi Keyte-Hartland TEDxBrum (2015). Children as Ideas Makers. Retrieved from:

Southcott, Laura Hope. 2015. Learning stories: Connecting parents, celebrating success, and valuing children’s theories. Voices of Practitioners 10, (1) (Winter): 34-50. Retrieved from:

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