Amy Hutson, Supervisor, Salvation Army Early Childhood Education Centre shares her thoughts on the impact of Storypark.
Our centre is a community based childcare centre with 28 children attending daily but a license for 50 children because of our parenting programme. We operate for the Salvation Army and so are a Christian centre with a purpose to provide high quality education to anyone in the community. We have 100% trained teachers working with our children and we took Storypark on one year ago.
Storypark is an amazing blessing because of the impact it has had on parent interest and engagement. Previously, profile books would go home at Christmas, teacher interviews, and we would put them out for viewing at family events (of which we have 5 a year). Our documentation was rarely seen, some families were simply not engaging in these structured opportunities and communication was infrequent. Since using Storypark we can see that our total views of assessments in one year is now 1083 story views and communication is also far better.
The extra bonus for us is the access that the extended family now have to the child’s learning regardless of their location. Grandparents in particular were no longer reliant on their children to share this information with them. Once the initial invite is given to them they can access and comment on their grandchild’s learning. We found that grandparents were the first to comment on stories before parents and even commenting within minutes of stories being posted so this demonstrated to us their eagerness to receive these updates and be involved in their grandchild’s lives.
We had one grandma who commented on a story about her Grandson learning language through music with a ukulele. She shared about how important music is to him, how she used to sooth him at nappy change and nap time with singing, She explained that the ukulele is played at home by his dad too. She also said she sang her favourite song to him ‘Morning town ride’.
The teacher validated this comment by saying now she knows where he gets his love for music from and asked if she could share morning town ride with them querying if there was a story behind the song choice.
The Grandparent replied explaining her thoughts on Morning town ride and wrote out the words.
Our teachers and her Grandson have continued to explore this song in different ways and involved Mum and Aunty too. We have signed on all our 1st time parents from SPACE (our parenting programme) and we write group stories that can compliment the topic that the parents have been learning during session and demonstrate how to notice the learning that is occurring for their child even in the first year of life.
I think there are so many more insights that we can learn about how to best assess children in this format, its accessibility to the community and how we can engage the community even further. The teachers think more carefully about what they write and how they write because the audience is larger than paper stories and we also make it very important that we validate a parents contribution to the profile so if the parent has posted a home story, a teacher needs to acknowledge that and what impact that may have on the child’s learning. therefore also role modelling our expectation of reciprocal interaction through this format.
The analytics give teachers much more comprehensive information about what and why they are assessing children, and also receive feedback from their colleagues.
There is so much room for reflection and improvement for each individual teacher and the centre community as a whole. On line profiles have opened up so many new opportunities for our centre community and I feel like we have only just started to scratch the surface with how we can use it. And even though we looked into other for us we love how Storypark grows with our needs and is very in tune with the profession as a posed to a set polished programme that does leave room for flexibility to for our centre.