Can we do better than checklists in Montessori?

Can we do better than checklists in Montessori?

At the time of writing I am currently retraining in mainstream preschool education. I already have mainstream qualifications for 5-18 year olds but due to regulations I need to retrain if I wish to teach children aged under 5.
As part of one my current papers we are looking at assessment in Early Childhood.
You may be aware that here in New Zealand Early Childhood educators have a quite different curriculum to work from. It is called 'Te Whariki' and comes form a socio-cultural framework. While I struggle with the broadness of it there are some advantages to its broadness - for example it gives room for Montessori preschools to be there authentic self without having to compromise their values.

Linked to our curriculum here in NZ is our different form of assessment -  Learning Stories.

Learning Stories are a form of assessment that are focused on qualitative assessments of a child's learning. This list comes from Mary Jane Drummond's chapter in the book 'Unlocking Assessment'
  • take a credit rather than a deficit approach
  • They recognise the unique developing individuality of each and every learner
  • Their view of learning is holistic, not subdivided into areas, skills or aspects of learning
  • They record children's enterprises and enquires over several days, ranging over every aspect of the experience
  • They record the child's learning at home as well as in the setting
  • They draw families in : parents find the stories irresistible
  • They document progression:  over time the stories get longer, broader, deeper.
I have been thinking a lot about how we traditionally assess in Montessori. Usually our assessment is done with checklists. While I see a place for these I wonder if we could benefit from using learning stories in both Preschools and Elementary Classes. 
One problem I have seen is people purchasing Montessori "checklists" and working to them rather than seeing them as a guide and missing the other things a learning story might tell for example a child's concentration, co-operation or participation. This leads to people trying to get through the curriculum with speed rather than depth and can also lead to an adult led curriculum rather than listening and observing the child. 
I have been pondering the socio-cultural model of learning that learning stories come from compared to the Humanistic perspective of Montessori. I have found some parts of socio-cultural learning frustrating, but other bits a breath of fresh air in particular the emphasis on drawing families in and ask for input from the home.

Here is one I have attempted to write using a stock photo - What do you think?
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