This blog post is written
by Elise Dietrich,
Director at Apple Blossom
Childcare in the USA.
I’ve experimented with several apps over the years and Storypark is the only one that does what I want it to do easily. Apple Blossom Childcare is a small family childcare outside of Cleveland, Ohio.
I generally care for 4-6 children at a time from 12 weeks old and up. The children usually come to me in infancy and stay until they are ready for Kindergarten, so I need something that is suitable for multiple ages and long term documentation. We’re a play-based, Reggio-inspired program, so we do a lot of group work and I want to document in a way that goes beyond scrapbooking or sending a daily checklist. Since I’m a one-woman show, I can’t express how grateful I am for little efficiencies like being able to select the children in a story or the learning tags with one click.
Many of the families in my program are not originally from the area, so they don’t have extended family in town. I have grandparents, aunts and uncles who have been added to Storypark. Some families are spread out across the country, so an uncle in California will comment and grandma in New York will respond to his comment. That saves my parents from having to post something on social media or email. What I post is different than just a cute snapshot that mom might send out, so the extended families are also participating in what is going on at school in real time.
I have been experimenting with using loose parts over commercial toys in my program. When I removed some of those toys, I felt that it might be hard to justify to my families, particularly relatives that may never be able to step into our space. But by presenting stories – not just pictures, but a few words of explanation to help “make learning visible”as they say, I received immediate buy-in and offers of recycled materials for the children to explore. Families may make comments about something that relates from home or just give ideas of how we can extend our projects and I can incorporate their ideas right away while we are still in the middle of what we are working on. We had a new younger child start last year. After a while, many of the stories were about his “firsts” and all the adults came to appreciate his development and the families of the older children were able to reflect on when their kids went through the same stages. I know his parents love when the other parents appreciate his growth. Overall, it has improved our larger sense of community.
Recently, I had a family interview for an opening and I was able to tell them about Storypark. Mom had expressed concerns about leaving her child for the first time, but I could see her eyes light up when she showed the app to Dad.
Storypark allows me to present myself professionally and communicate the honor that I feel to be a part of their child’s life. I love when I can capture one of those special moments that occur every day at childcare – a new discovery, a friendship, or something super silly. Those moments are what teachers and parents look forward to, but sometimes our days are so busy we forget to catch them. Because Storypark is easy to use, I can record those memories and still be in the moment for the children. I am so happy to have this wonderful tool!