01. “Documentation” in Pistoia preschools: A window and a mirror
This article discusses the practice of documentation in the early years education services of Pistoia, Italy. The findings, arising from a research study visit in May 2014, provide insights into the values and principles implicit in early childhood practice in the Pistoian nidi d’infanzia [nurseries] (for children from 3 months to 3 years of age) and scuole d’infanzia [kindergartens] (for children from 3 to 6 years of age). Documentation plays an important role in Pistoia: it provides a window (for multiple audiences) into children’s learning journeys, and also a mirror that reflects children’s and teachers’ experiences and constitutes an important element in a reflective pedagogy.
The analysis of group interviews with both teachers and parents during the research visit identified four main themes. Firstly, documentation in Pistoia provides a graphic representation of the guiding threads that run through long-term projects and also identifies key moments in children’s learning. Secondly, documentation makes visible an educational approach in which emotion and affect are seen as central to young children’s learning. Thirdly, the regular inclusion of families in documentation illustrates the collaborative partnerships between schools and homes that are the bedrock of early education in Pistoia. Fourthly, documentation expresses the highly developed aesthetic of Pistoian early years practice; the beautiful and cared-for environments in these preschools constitute an invitation to children to explore and create.