This story has been written by Michelle Pagel, an educator at Vista Way Kindergarten in Melbourne, Australia. It offers a practitioners perspective of the impact Storypark has had for families in a low socio-economic area.
Our kindergarten educates and cares for a diverse range of children and families. Our community is quite complex, with many kinds of diversity and disadvantage. Our families are made up of refugee families, families that experience generational poverty and low educational outcomes, domestic violence and homelessness to families with high levels of education and stable predictable home lives.
Historically we found it difficult to share and receive feedback from families regarding their child’s experience during our kindergarten days. We also have some families, especially fathers, that we were unable to create connections with as they did not do the sessional drop off or pick up of their child. We discussed and considered many options to create and sustain those connections.
The other challenge was completing observations, linking them and then asking families for feedback, even reading notices and exchanging conversations was tricky. We also wanted to begin using less paper and stop producing portfolios that took way too much time and are not a requirement.
Finally in July we found Storypark and this has been the most amazing and eye opening time for our service. Our families are invited via email (families without email still get information although it is hard copy) to join our online learning area on Storypark. Our families have embraced this new way of presenting and sharing information. Lots of our families come from overseas, Storypark allows their extended family to see what is happening at kindergarten , share what they are doing wherever they are in the world.
Our parents are able to see in real time what is happening in Kindergarten during our sessions. This immediacy means that families are having conversations with us as they arrive to pick up their child, the parents that work also see what is happening.
We have uploaded our newsletters to our Storypark area, we upload stories and articles that inform and prompt our parents to think about many early childhood related issues. We also uploaded our philosophy for families to consider and provide comments.
Our families were asked to choose a face to face parent teacher interview or a private note on Storypark. Many chose the latter and this was very beneficial for many families, they could read at their leisure how their child was doing at kindergarten and then respond or ask questions.
I cannot tell you how this has changed our recording of information for families and children, it has also connected families and meant that they are asking more questions. Storypark has allowed us to have our observations completed by the end of each session, you can imagine how wonderful that is. We will continue using Storypark into the future, the information shared between Kindergarten and what the children are doing outside of kindergarten is wonderful and give us a more holistic approach to children and families.