I’ve been doing lots of research on children’s developmental portfolios ... I’ve been doing it for years and years actually. I don’t remember what was discussed at university at all ... so even if it were, it obviously didn’t make much of an impression. What I have read about portfolios places such a huge emphasis on “assessment” and “development” and what the child can or cannot do. How much of that is really important? Yes, a child should be confident in achieving certain milestones at little school, but how much of that is really truly important? We all develop in our own ways, in our own time. We all get there in the end.
So how do I view portfolios today? I love them. I resent them at times to be honest, but for the most part, I greatly enjoy creating them and working on them with the children and sharing them with the families. I love it when the parents tell me how much they love the portfolios and how much they have enjoyed looking at them with their children and families. I appreciate the feedback about the learning that the children are taking home.
So what do I think of when I am putting together a portfolio?
· Does this make a good story? Does this story share an aspect of the child’s unique personality? Has the child learned someone wonderful about the world? Or themselves? Does this story illustrate the relationships the child has? Why is this moment special? What does it say about the child and their experience?
· How many children are involved in this experience (and therefore, how many portfolios can I put this into?!? 5? 7? 10? Whoohoo!).
· All these photos are really charming, but on their own, can I really justify the time and expense of putting this into a single observation? i.e. I have to frame it, write about it in context, and then relate it to something of importance (not all the time mind you, but sometimes).
· Does this help to reflect the child’s experience within their social contexts? (learning environment, home, local community?)
· Does this entry reflect the curriculum of the learning environment?
In thinking about putting this book together I started to look at my own past work and it was really quite enlightening. When I was looking at some of my previous work, I had a book of photos of a full portfolio... I then photocopied this so there four images of A4 pages upon the one page ... I could then look at them critically and write ideas and notes on the large white margins. I could see my style of work from two years ago ... what I thought was memorable and important, what I said what I should have said, or what I would say now! I could also see how the portfolio came together and whether it flowed for me (the professional) and how it might look to a parent or another professional.