This blog post focuses on Kath Cooper’s experience of Storypark as a Nani and is the second part of her two part series. Check out last week’s post to hear more about her perspectives as a Lecturer and Educator.
Hi, I’m Kath Cooper. I wear a lot of hats – I’m an educator, I am a lecturer at Early Childhood NZ (Previously Te Tari Puna/NZ Childcare Association), and I am a Nani (grandmother) to three year old Ariki, who attends a childcare centre who uses Storypark.
Although I don’t get to engage with Ariki at his centre like I would if I worked there, Storypark has allowed me to still be an active contributor to his learning.
A wide range of teachers contribute to his profile, which allows me to see his broad interests as he moves around the environment. One of his kaiako (teachers) who is passionate about outdoor play captures his interests and development there, whereas the kaiako who loves reading will record his times in the story corner.
When he first started at this centre, many of the stories were about his connections with others and making friends. I got to know the names of the children he liked to spend time with, and I can look back and see many of his initial friendships have been maintained over this year. Using the tags within the stories means I can navigate via topics, and see how he has progressed in particular areas such as gross-motor skills.
Ariki spends time at our whare (house), and my wife and I have opportunities to contribute to his learning portfolio via our phones or computers. The format is beautifully simple, and so easy to engage with, I can have a story up within minutes of an event happening.
On a recent trip to the United States, we were able to stay updated on his learning and the use of photos meant we didn’t feel we were left out of anything. The beauty of Storypark is that Ariki’s wider whānau (family) can also access this information, including his grandfather and uncle who live in another city.
Links are made between all the spaces that Ariki occupies and this creates a holistic picture of his interests and his significant people. Play is no longer seen as an isolated event. One story from the centre setting showed Ariki using a toy blender in a similar manner to a barista, including a ‘foaming milk’ sound. Once I read this story, I was able to upload a set of photos of Ariki using our coffee maker at home, including his working knowledge of the steamer, the correct buttons for the perfect grind, and his ability to match cups to people based on their coffee choices.
Both the kaiako and I were able to see that his interest in making coffee was a bigger than in only one location. The wider whānau who don’t see him as often are able to enjoy stories which reflect his interests and are able to use these topics as spring boards when talking to him. Newsletters are delivered via Storypark so the wider whānau can all be kept up to date with events.
Storypark has taken all the ideals around open, transparent, recordable communication, not only with the parents, but also with the wider whānau and placed it in a simple to use, portable app. As a lecturer and a grandparent, Storypark has my vote of confidence, it has drawn together the aspects of connecting with parents and whānau that I had strived for when I was working within a centre, and ironed out the challenges we faced.
I look forward to the next stages in development of Storypark, and to start using it for our next grandchild, Elsie.
Hei konei ra,
Kath Cooper, Nani.