Bring Thoughts to Life: Document!

When Reggio-inspired teachers document, what does that mean?

When we “document” we are trying to make the children’s thinking visible to others.  This can be in the form of taking notes through active observation, recording audio, video recording and/or photographs.  Documentation is used by educators to identify and plan new projects and sets a platform for discussion with parents.  Using documentation to identify and create an emerging curriculum will be discussed in another post.  This post is about the practicalities of documenting, and in my case, documenting at home.


When Penelope and I revisited this photo, she shared, “I wondered whose nest it was at Orchard Grove. I saw this branch and wondered how it broke.”

With mobile screens literally at our finger tips, it can seem easier to document learning.  However, I  have found (like most things) what may seem simple is actually a lot more difficult to practice.  I’ve made up a list of pros and cons of documenting with Smart Technology, specifically smart phones.


  • You need a free hand! Documenting became a lot easier when our baby started walking!
  • Feeling overwhelmed! As a stay at home mom and homeschooling parent, I could technically document every second! So when do I document? How much for how long? This was when I realized I was still developing rhythm, routine and rituals.  Of course when I figure out a set time to observe and document, my toddler or baby does something amazing or says the most profound thing I’ve ever heard outside of the “designated documenting time.” Like most lessons I’ve learned on this parenting journey, I continue to have grace for myself (what I call Mommy Grace).  It’s OKAY I didn’t capture it.  I can feel so guilty for not capturing every awesome moment with my children because of the “Smart Tech” era I live in.  But you know what, instead of capturing it, I LIVED IT.  We lived the moment instead! Living in the moment is debatably better in most ways, especially for the kids! Here’s a brief article I read from Mothering Magazine that helped me get a balance of when to capture moments and when to put the smart phone down. The article is called, Why I’m Done Taking Tons of Photos of my Kids. How often do we have a smart device between us and our kids? Or how often are we giving screens to them? So much research is being done about this, and I’ll save more on this for another post.
  • Time. When my job feels 24/7, it’s difficult to carve out focused time to transcribe a recording.  I know this will get more manageable when everyone is sleeping through the night and all baby teeth are in… closer to year 2 in my experience… In the meantime, I’ve learned to work this out with my spouse.  However, time is so short with little ones and the priority list is long so again, Mommy Grace here! It’s okay if I have recordings and no dictations.
  • Distractions. When the phone is more than a camera and recorder, it’s always a temptation to check email or social media.  It will only take a second… LIE! Huge time waster! Plus, if that happens, the moment is gone. I’m no longer present or engaged with my kids. Distractions are a huge downer in my opinion. I have found handwriting and taking notes the “old fashioned way” to be not only more focused, but more memorable and more reflective.  Lots of research suggests when we handwrite, our brains retain information much better than typing.


  • Convenient. These smart phones are very convenient to pick up and take a photo.  However, when you’re documenting with a “Reggio Mindset,” you want to add dialogue and record observations to get the most accurate picture of the moment.
  • Apps. So isn’t there an app for this? Why Yes! So glad you asked! If you haven’t heard of SeeSaw yet, you have GOT to check it out! I do not get any incentives for sharing this with you. I just like it so much! SeeSaw has an app (which I have found keeps me more focused) that not only lets you take a photo, but you can add a caption underneath, a recording under the photo, or a note.  It’s fast, convenient and after a couple finger taps, I have a photo with a recording for us to reflect upon later.  It’s also fast enough to really capture a moment and then put away! At the end of the day I can easily upload documentation to an online blog created through the app. Did I mention this app is FREE!?

Our SeeSaw Blog:

Please check it out and let me know what you think! How do you document learning as a Homeschool Parent or as a Classroom Teacher? I’d love to hear your methods and any other insight you’d like to share!

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