Learning Stories: What Are They?
Like any good book, every learning story has a plot and a hero.
In a learning story the hero is always the child, and instead of an epic battle in an enchanted forest, a learning story takes place in reality, using pictures and words to tell the tale of a child's personal growth and development.
If you use a digital tool like Educa to document your learning stories, they'll probably contain video, audio and parent comments too.
Based on the work of Dr. Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee, learning stories are similar to 'reflections', or 'observations'. Each story has a main event and highlights key skills, habits and dispositions displayed by the child.
(Learning Stories Constructing Learner Identities in Early Education by Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee SAGE Publications 2012 ),
Learning stories help educators and teachers show how curriculum is being met, and can be used as an assessment tool and a reporting method.
Stories are often documented in paper books, or digitally using an ePortfolio tool like Educa. They are saved for families, children and educators to remember special moments, reflect on and learn from.
Here are five powerful ways learning stories positively impact early learning.
1. Sense of identity
Learning stories are key methods in the development of a child’s sense of identity. By knowing what it is they are doing and understanding how they learn, a child can develop their own interests as well as an all-important sense of self-worth. They will then be encouraged to learn more about their interests by their own volition.
Community and belonging are important contributors to a child’s identity. Cultural norms can be transferred to the child through the use of learning stories, allowing them to learn what it is to be part of a community.
2. Parental contributions
Stories are not only beneficial to the child, but also to the parents. Parental expectations have been shown to have a high correlation with achievement, so as a result communication between home and school can help enhance learning.
Learning stories achieve this by allowing the teachers, children and parents to all contribute to the learning process. Parents can add their own stories in addition to those written by the teacher, so that both parties can keep track of learning both inside and outside the school.
3. Children’s perspective
Recording events in a narrative form allows children to see what they are learning from another perspective. Some examples in Learning Stories tell of young children that are enthusiastic to show their portfolios to their families- even when the children themselves are not fond of reading. This instills a love for learning that is amplified as more is added to their portfolios, as it allows them to recognise their achievements. This, in turn, allows them to achieve success in their educational endeavors.
The importance of learning stories extends beyond just kindergarten. They can also be used as a re-contextualising tool for new entrants into primary school. When a child is confronted with an unfamiliar new environment, such as a new school, taking along their learning stories may provide a sense of comfort and allow them to acclimatise.
Accountability, while not being explicitly stated as a theme, is one of the key topics covered in the book. It shows that, in young children, learning can be maintained if the learners are held accountable. This gives them a sense of control over their education.
Children need to feel that they’re having an impact on the world. If they feel that their actions are meaningful, they are more likely to be engaged in their learning. Writing learning stories helps with this sense of control, as it allows children to see how their actions are affecting the world around them.
For a more in-depth analysis of the benefits of learning stories, we definitely recommend giving this book a read:
Learning Stories Constructing Learner Identities in Early Education by Margaret Carr and Wendy Lee SAGE Publications 2012 .