What are Online Learning Journals and Why You Should Be Using Them


primary school interactive group learning

Online learning journals are a tool for nursery owners, nursery practitioners, teachers and parents to note down the progress of their little ones in those all important early years of development.

By using online learning journals you can track your child’s progress in a secure, multimedia supported, customisable online environment.

Learning Journals and the Learning Journey

In 2010, the first Curriculum for Excellence was produced by Education Scotland and introduced the idea of learning via experiences and outcomes for early years learners.

This meant that there were now trackable, measurable frameworks for development for learners as young as 3.

This, in addition to England’s EYFS Development Matters suggestions and frameworks, led to practitioners celebrating a child’s development by documenting and journaling each success.

Learning Journals was designed to move with children throughout their nursery and school journey, so they gave a complete picture of a child’s progress as well as giving teachers a valuable benchmarking tool for that particular child’s learning and needs.

The strange thing is that the Curriculum for Excellence was, in many aspects, just formalising and standardising a process that many teachers and parents were engaging in anyway.

It wasn’t entirely unheard of for people to take photographs or catch on video key moments in their child’s development, or for an early years school teacher to report on any milestone progress evident.

Formalising and standardising the process just made it far easier for nursery practitioners, nursery owners, and parents or carers to be pulling in the same direction and measuring similar things.

Learning Journals in Schools

Why were learning journals so widely adopted and used, in so short of a time period?

We’ve summarised the key reasons below, and they’re just as relevant today as they were during the mass adoption of the learning journals systems following the Curriculum for Excellence frameworks coming out.

Ofsted and the Care Inspectorate

Ofsted and the Care Inspectorate historically find a lot of value in evidence based assessment of learning.

Learning journals are the perfect foil to the inspectors’ need for measurables and evidence, as it is a useful tool that majorly benefits the child in the first instance and covers practitioners when the need to present evidence arises.

Parents Love Learning Journals

There is understandably some separation anxiety between the primary caregiver and child when the child enters education.

Learning journals give the parent a more in-depth understanding of what a child is experiencing on a day to day basis and allows the parent to feel more engaged without ‘helicoptering’ over their child.

Maintaining their own learning journal or adding to the child’s learning journal at home is a great way for parents and teachers to connect and collaborate without the need for lengthy meetings or sit-downs.

Learning journals bridge the gap between home and school in a non-invasive, non-intensive way that benefits the child, and benefits both parents and teachers as it gives a fuller, more complete picture of development around which a learning programme can be tailored.

Accurate Recording

Learning Journals give an up to date view of where a child is at in terms of their development.

Previous developmental estimates were less precise and less accurate, and a lot of people (including members of parliament and prominent public figures) are publicly against introducing matriculated testing in early years development stages.

Learning journals give teachers, parents and nursery owners an accurate and up to date record of a children’s development, allowing for more reactive teaching and putting the child’s needs first.

Time Efficiency

Is it easier to write a report of what has happened in the last three days, or the last three months?

Spending five minutes to update a learning journal is much easier than trying to remember significant moments from the last quarter and highlighting it in a major school report style offering.

With journals moving online, the processes for recording milestones and development are even more streamlined and automated.

Having such a time efficient way of marking progress frees up time that would otherwise be spent on record progress markers.

This additional time can then be dedicated to focusing on interacting with the children and providing valuable, useful, development driven time in the classroom.

nursery children playing on a mat

Why Should You Use Online Learning Journals?

Online learning journals offer an extra dimension to the journaling process. Pen and paper journaling is almost a relic of the past as online journals have become so secure, usable, and accessible.

While some people feel nostalgic or even romantic about the notion of keeping a paper record of their child’s early years development, the majority of people saw the benefit of moving to online journals after seeing the major benefits online journals offered.

We’ve summarised the main features that really appealed to the majority of online learning journal users below, see if any would apply to you!


Online journals have a high standard of digital security.

They are ‘stored’ on password protected servers and adhere to the highest standards of cybersecurity, so you can rest easy knowing your personal data, and the data of those you care for, is protected and won’t be lost or corrupted.

Supported Learning Across the Board

Online learning journals support learning and development from early childhood through to the end of primary education. More and more the observation and reflection process of learning becomes resource intensive, having a learning journal available to track process supports learning for parents, caregivers, nursery practitioners and nursery owners, as well as the child learner.

Curriculum for Excellence and EYFS frameworks are both exceptionally well supported in Learning Journals, and we recommend their use as a progress tracking tool.

There is also added benefit of development tracking using learning journals in the special educational needs sector, where an additional element of learning reflection is of great benefit to the child.

Accessible Online Learning Journals

Online learning journals work with modern technology to make sure that they can be used by anyone and everyone.

Screen readers, keyboard navigation, and other key accessibility tools allow access to online learning journals for those with barriers to print, audio or traditional multimedia formats.

Accessibility also drives innovation and development, as solving accessibility problems to ensure a fairer playing field often leads to a better user experience for everyone.

Ever Evolving- In the Right Way

The online space is always evolving and changing, and online learning journals are positioned to evolve with it.

By existing in a digital space, online learning journals can evolve past their pen and paper predecessors and even past their current iteration into something new and better.

In the case of caring for children, and measuring development and progress, adopting new technology has to be a very careful and considered process.

By listening to the research being conducted and the psychology behind the technology, learning journals have evolved and continue to evolve with the users’ best interests at heart.

Innovation for innovation’s sake would never be the right route to go down with something as delicate and as important as children’s development and learning, and so all online learning journals tend to be very careful with early adoption of new technology.

This leads to a very safe and useful journal, with just the right amount of cutting edge technology to keep them efficient, convenient, and secure.

Online Journals for Parents- At Your Convenience

The world moves fast, especially when you have little ones to look after.

Being able to update your child’s online journal on the go gives you the freedom to focus on what’s actually important- your time with your child.

An online journal can keep you involved and engaged with the learning process even when you’re away from your child, and lets teachers share progress updates and key moments that would otherwise be a schoolyard anecdote.

With online journals you get shareable multimedia feedback that you can access any time.

You can also upload your own media and celebrate home milestones in the learning journey, so there is a pleasant cohesion between home and nursery or school life.

Parents only have access to their own child’s profile. With the use of usernames, passwords and PIN combinations, you can also rest assured that only yourself and staff members have access to your content.

As well as all of the functional tracking of development and the usefulness of online journals as a tool, just going through the process of keeping an online journal creates a lovely gallery of photos and memories that you can keep forever to look back on- and bring out at 18th birthday celebrations as a cutesy keepsake!

child blowing candles out

Your Journey Taken Care of By Learning Journals

With us, you know you are in the hands of childcare professionals.

We aren’t some faceless corporate entity generating digital tools after the minimum research and experience.

We built our unique Learning Journals at Arbor Green Nurseries, a leading Edinburgh based nursery, after experiencing frustration at the disconnect between the nursery and the parents we helped.

To share high quality observations of learning was painfully bureaucratic, expensive, and absurdly time consuming.

Based on our experience as childcare providers and industry professionals, we have created a learning journal solution that works for parents, childminders, nursery practitioners, and even nursery owners.

Our offering allows for unlimited storage, meaning you can share photos, videos, and other media without worrying about storage caps or filling up your allotted space!

We aren’t interested in restricting the feedback and observations you share.

In addition to this, we also have journal frameworks to suit every need and curriculum, whether you’re following the EYFS curriculum, the Curriculum for Excellence, or a bespoke curriculum provided to you or by your council.

Having experience in working to a curriculum for early years learning was invaluable in developing our offering, and we have streamlined our processes to make it as easy as possible for you to just set up and go with your online learning journal journey.

For teachers, nursery practitioners and childminders looking for online learning support tools, our online learning journals support bespoke reporting, evidence of progress and historical tracking, and in-built reminders for learners who haven’t had an update in a while.

Nothing prescriptive, of course, but useful and catering to your needs and preferences, as our learning journal is customisable to you.

For nursery owners or those setting up their own nursery practice, we offer bespoke HR solutions and top level nursery management tools in addition to the above Online Journal offerings.

The full descriptions of our products and services can be found on the products section of our website.

What are Online Learning Journals (and Why You Should Be Using Them)

Online learning journals are an online tool for teachers, nursery practitioners, nursery owners, childminders and parents to communicate with one another about the progress of a child. Online learning journals are a great way to keep up to date records of a child’s development, but their key benefit is that they allow the tracking of a child’s development and progress whilst still letting the child be a child.

Learning Journals help teachers and nursery practitioners share key moments in a child’s development with parents without having the child sit tests or have rigid learning frameworks enforced upon them.

We understand the problems that face childcare professionals, and parents, and the children they care for.

We seek to bridge the gap between parent, teacher, and learner, and make sure each child is getting the most out of each unique and special experience.

If you’d like to learn more about our methodology and the way we work, and how Learning Journals can help you, get in touch.

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