“Storypark has cut down our documentation by half. It allows us to focus on relationships with children. There are no daily diaries, instead parents get to see, in real-time, the natural and genuine nature of the program.” – Courtney Caligiore, Educational Leader
The Royal Children’s Hospital Early Learning in Melbourne, Australia was one of the first early childhood services to trial Storypark in Victoria. They were keen on using digital tools to help with observations and communication, but when they started with Storypark they were not exactly sure how they were going to use it.
For this large, purpose-built centre that has 10 rooms, 45 educators and 260 enrolled children (120 each day) they have grown into Storypark. It has not replaced everything, but Educational Leader Courtney says, “It has completely transformed the way we communicate with families. Only two families do not login and use Storypark in our centre.”
The RCH Approach to Storypark
In their service, the RCH team uses a multiple account approach to Storypark. This means that each room has its own account. The size and type of centre dictated this. Initially they found the community page with that many children, would be over run with content and much of it was not relevant to all families. As they are a workplace community, the real value in relationships and belonging came in the room by room experience of families as opposed to the whole centre, when communicating through Storypark.
Another reason for the approach was the educators and parent’s concerns about the need to manage privacy across all the families. Everyone felt more comfortable having shared access to a room community, rather than a community of 260 children.
As they trialled Storypark in their first year, they saw it evolve into a tool where the educators in each room were able to better focus on family needs and facilitate broader engagement with children’s learning. Of course, the administrator can still see all the stories and streams at once, but does not approve all stories. At RCH the educators in each room have autonomy and responsibility over their own posts and stories. It becomes the central point of connection between the children, the educators and families.
Communication beats documentation
For the team at RCH Early Learning, the use of Storypark is not focused on using it purely as a documentation tool, the focus and benefits are actually through improved communication. This as a result has meant the need for less documentation overall.
What the centre realised was that they had families who’ve potentially worked 10+ hour shifts coming in and picking up their children, and they were not really engaging with the visual, paper based documentation. Like so many early learning services they were putting countless hours into creating engaging and beautifully presented documentation – that nobody was reading.
Storypark has changed that…
Educators know families are engaging and reading because they are posting their own stories. Educators can see conversations about children’s development that are taking place on Storypark between parents and grandparents who live in Scotland or other parts of the world (depending on which child). This ability to share has also benefited support workers. Inclusion Support workers who work with children with supported learning needs can access a child’s Storypark account, as well as the potential to allow access to Primary School teachers as part of the transition for children heading into school.
How you use it
The key message from RCH Early Learning is to begin to think about how you use Storypark and how it works for your centre.
You may not know straight away, but if you can let go of expecting it to be all things and allow it to work in your centre how it best meets your needs and the needs of the children, it will be fantastic.
The real value says Courtney, “Capturing the significant moments of the child’s development and sharing them with families as they are happening.”