How to document young children's learning?

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Have you heard buzz words like Portfolio Learning and Pedagogical Documentation? Have felt you should do it to guarantee quality learning, but don't really know how? You are not alone. It is still a new thing. Used cleverly it will improve your teaching, give you an advantage, and increase the parent's appreciation for your work. Here is how to take the first steps.

Portfolio Learning or Pedagogical Documentation is an essential working method in early childhood education and it guarantees the best possible learning path for all children. It is one step in the learning process consisting of planning of activities, documentation, and formative assessment. The whole learning process must also be tightly aligned with your curriculum.

Simply, Pedagogical Documentation is observing for example children’s play, projects, discussions, ideas, and inventions via taking photos, making notes, writing down explanations as well as tricky questions, saving artwork, videoing action, recording voice...and using all the documents purposefully as part of the formative assessment of children's learning. What makes documentation Pedagogical Documentation is the idea that educators use the documents wisely - reflect on them and modify their planning and teaching accordingly (Katz & Chard 1996.)

What makes documentation Pedagogical Documentation is the idea that educators use the documents wisely - reflect on them and modify their planning and teaching accordingly (Katz & Chard 1996.)


Pedagogical documentation gives educators new views of children’s behavior, thoughts, ideas, challenges, and creative processes. Each lovely, unique child deserves to be known and understood as an individual (Katz & Chard, 1996).

The process of pedagogical documentation is meaningful only if you take advantage of the possibilities and challenges it offers. It is important to think about how you can develop the activities. What themes, methods or goals should you choose next? What is your next step toward better early childhood education? (Tarkka 2018.)

Before documentation


  • First of all, always have materials and tools ready for documenting! A camera, mobile phone, tablet, pen&paper...
  • Think of what are meaningful and current questions, issues, or topics in the group? It is impossible to document Everything so narrow it down.
  • Once you have chosen a topic, start observing and documenting!

After documentation


  • Sit down and discuss with each child eg. once a week/month all the things you have done that month.
  • Show all artworks, photos, videos, recordings, and other documents from that time concerning that child and let the child tell his/her views and write the child’s words down.
  • Ask the child questions like What was fun? What was difficult? What made you happy/unhappy? What were you thinking at this moment? What would you like to learn or do in kindergarten/preschool?
  • Plan next themes and projects according to the discussions with the children and families, observations and documentation.
  • Connect the observations and notes to the kindergarten’s and child’s individual curriculum and include the learning areas that have been left out in future planning.

Documenting early education is very important, but have to admit that it can also be very time-consuming. Therefore, digital solutions save your time and make the whole process a lot more "user-friendly". Watch our video on how pedagogical documentation can be done with Kindiedays and schedule a free online demo with our expert.




Katz L. G. & Chard S. C. 1996. The Contribution of Documentation to the Quality of Early Childhood Education.

Karvonen, P. 2020. What on Earth is Pedagogical Documentation? 

Tarkka, K. 2018. Finnish National Agency for Education.


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