What documenting an infant has taught me so far...

Friday, October 7, 2016




My son might very well be one of the most photographed children out there!  Nevertheless, it has been an interesting experience in my practice to try and document an infant.  In a classroom, you can ask a Kindergarten child to photograph them during their learning process.  Sometimes they slow down intentionally so that you may capture their moment of discovery. A baby can see that you are taking pictures, however, you can blink and the chance to photograph their meaning making might be gone!

With this small window of opportunity, I have actually had to slow down my documentation and revert back to some of my more traditional methods.  As of recent, I have tried very hard to make learning visible through social media while it is unfolding in real time.  For instance, I might capture an experience and tweet it, post it on Instagram, or even share it live using Snapchat stories.  Trying to videotape or photograph an infant in real time is much more challenging.  This is why I have decided to go back to using my digital camera again.  I can collect as many images and clips as my heart desires!  Then when I upload them onto my desktop, I am essentially slowing down to see what was documented.  This gives me the opportunity to discard any duplicates, edit any that intrigue/surprise me, and perhaps be more present in my time with Baby S.

When you are documenting on your phone, it's as though your focus changes slightly.  Maybe this is only the case for me, but I have found that when I use my smart device I become distracted after taking "the photo" and wanting desperately to share it. Then the rest of what happened or is currently emerging sort of fades away, as my attention shifts toward the action of posting.


Here is what I documented without the pressures of social media:






I believe that this is one of my best photographs to date!  While my son played and explored, I observed, listened, and documented.  Can you see his complete wonderment and awe?  

It's true what they say about children being born curious and ready to learn!  I have witnessed this from birth...





Last night I shared this small series of photos with the Kindergarten AQ participants who have joined me and Trista Dutt at York University (#yorkukaq).


Here are some questions that I asked them to think about as they studied the images.  I developed them with the help of my pedagogical documentation friend and guru - Ellen Brown:


  • What do you see? wonder? think?

  • What meaning could he be making?             (meaning making - learning)

  • How could educators and families support this meaning making process?
  • How might you respond to this emergent moment?

  • What does this documentation say about children?

When you see the images, consider using the above questions and share your response(s) in the comment section at the end of this blog post.


I also wanted to share with you a video clip that preceded these photos.  My baby is generally a very quiet and calm boy.  He rarely has outbursts, unless he is hungry or very tired, and even then is often in very positive spirits.  When people meet him their response is always that he seems so content and confident.  Words any parent would love to hear!  



In this video, I captured one of the first moments of true emotion and communication:





How do you read this documentation?  I would love for you to include any of your interpretations in a comment below!


I sort of wish that I had left the camera on when he began to explore with the paper tubes.  These are all decisions that we make as documenters and I am continuing to learn through my son how I might improve my own process.




Thank you for being on this journey with us!  We hope that you enjoyed our post...

Happy Friday!




Infants and toddlers are natural scientists

with an intrinsic drive to investigate 

and master their world.

-Lisa Daly and Miriam Beloglovsky 
(Loose Parts 2, Inspiring Play with Infants and Toddlers)


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