It is important for me to admit that for years, prior to Storypark, the documentation panels, children’s work and group discussions that I completed and posted in my classroom was easily overlooked. If time allowed I would walk parents around the room, directly point out the progress and work of their child. I hosted bi-annual curriculum nights/ exhibits, carefully displaying the work and investigations that occurred. Portfolios were created and maintained for review during parent meetings. Parents always walked away impressed however I was not able to get much involvement or natural curiosity from them. I was also questioning the value they were receiving in grasping Reggio Emilia’s methodology.
I believe this hole in involvement and understanding was due to the time lapse in parents receiving the feedback and also the constraint of time that parents had to review the panels. I watched as they only simply glanced at the work during their time in the room before heading to a job or rushing to get home. The children’s work was never truly being digested by the parents and as new or updated documentation was posted I found less and less parents walking around and reviewing the work.
What I did discover was that social media was a success in giving parents the opportunity and awareness of the creativity and projects going on in the room. While parents were at home and reviewed work at their leisure I was receiving specific feedback and interest. Although this felt reassuring social media was not the answer to my dilemma. It was at this realization that I began searching for another way to connect with parents, one that met both our needs. In the quest to searching, I found Storypark.
Storypark is an amazing tool that opened my eyes to all of what can be translated to the parents about their child and their time at my school. It is now a realistic expectation to transfer the record of events happening in the room in a timely manner offering each family a full view of their whole child. The outcome of using Storypark as my main communication to parents is immeasurable. Parents are now able to fully grasp how the teacher’s support and encouragement involved in their child’s work ignites a deeper quest for learning.
But most importantly, as my parents have voiced, they have gained a clearer understanding of their child’s intelligence and capabilities since being a part of a Reggio Inspired School combined with Storypark.
Here is why I love Storypark:
- It keeps parents actively interested and involved in their child’s work, projects and progress.
- It allows the narrative of documentation to be displayed through an unlimited amount of time. Projects being investigated can be documented through a sequence of events supported with photos, video and data collected.
- It exhibits the role of the teacher and how ideas are generated. Creativity does not fall into our laps but rather takes context that allows it to evolve. The dialogue in the classroom is the root of this evolution. Parents are able to view, firsthand, how the child is given the time to extend and deepen their thinking and how learning unfolds and happens naturally.
- It promotes a strong home-school connection as parents are able to add to stories that teachers develop and also share stories of experiences happening at home. In addition, teacher and parent is able to privately discuss the goals and growing areas for the child. Articles to support specific learning strategies and development stages can easily be attached to these family planning notes.
- Storypark’s logistics of Learning Sets provides parents with a simple way to pinpoint the vast areas of intellectual learning contributed to their child’s discoveries and exploration. For me, the learning tags fully support how to educate parents on theory put into practice, as it moves/shapes naturally for each child’s disposition.
I have found Storypark to add ease to all the writing, planning, researching and collaborating I do each day. I now know the endless hours I put into my classroom duties and the incredible work achieved by the children is being absorbed and considered by parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.
About the author:
Maria Lallier is based in New York, USA and is the owner of Young Einsteins, a Reggio Emilia Inspired preschool. She is the author of ‘The Intelligent Child‘ and you can follow her here on Facebook. Maria is also a Storypark advocate and you can get in touch with her and many other advocates in your area here.