Written by Kim Hiscott, Executive Director, Andrew Fleck Children’s Services
We’ve always been committed to engaging with families to share their child’s early learning experience; we do this through daily interactions but also through purposeful documentation. Our “traditional” approach included educators spending hours creating amazing portfolios that while appreciated by parents for the most part, by the time they were shared, represented what HAD happened (often months ago) versus what is happening NOW. And then along came Storypark! We leapt in by first piloting at one of our sites and then based on educator and parent enthusiasm we’ve since launched Storypark at all 19 of our sites. 3 years later we are still enthusiastic not only because of the money and time we save, but also the impact we’ve seen for children, families and our team.
So much time and money is saved by not printing pictures and stories. Storypark’s formatting options support educator creativity but also provide a framework for which to start. Being able to duplicate shared group stories and then personalize them is a significant time saver as is the ability to tag learning outcomes. Of great interest and importance is being able to easily “follow” a child from one program to another and build upon the existing documentation.
As a quality early learning program we want to engage with parents, and this is what parents are expecting (rightfully so!), this means that if we were not using StoryPark we would be doing something else, and Storypark is the most reasonably priced, value-added platform that we’ve found. We estimate that we had a consumable cost of $25-$35 per individual child per year for printing portfolio pictures and putting them in a binder for families – not including the cost of the equipment.
If we added up the time and cost savings per centre over a year I’d estimate it would be around $25,000 across all of our sites. This makes a huge difference!
The platform works well!
Storypark is easy to use and ‘makes sense’ to educators – even those who are self-confessed technically challenged.
The programming section allows educators to have ongoing conversations outside of their face to face meetings and maintain a record of their own continuous professional learning.
We use Storypark to support educators across multiple sites which is awesome; one general message can be sent to all of our families. This is a significant time-saver, one person drafts the necessary update and then each site Program Coordinator approves and the message is sent, so much more efficient than each Program Coordinator individually having to find the time. I appreciate being able to see, at a glance, all of the activity at each site. The sorting functions are very robust; I can review by site, educator, learning tag and much more. This is a great support to engage educators in reflective conversations.
Reinforcing reciprocal engagement between educators and parents – parents are seeing their children’s learning on a regular basis and are able to post comments and document what’s happening for children at home. Their responses are highly motivating for the educators and assists in creating the partnership that we strive for.
Much easier for Program Coordinator’s to mentor educators as they develop their documentation skills. The dashboard functions are super user-friendly and provide an “at a glance” view of when stories were added, by who, what learning tags were utilized and so much more.
Best said by one of our Program Coordinators!
“Our program often found it challenging to involve families in their child’s learning and share the child’s interests. Often families are in a rush when dropping off or picking up their child; they do not have the time to look at the documentation posted in our spaces or may not have the time to share in detail of what’s happening at home. With Storypark it is easy to share information. Families can see a story and reply with photos or stories of their child’s interests.”
“Families can invite other family members; being a diverse program with families from all over the world, Storypark has given parents an opportunity to share their child’s experiences. It’s amazing to see other members of the child’s family sharing in these experiences as well. It’s fantastic that families have access to the tools and notes wherever they go. They can share this with doctors, specialists or future educators as the child learns and grows.”
“Initially, our team really focused on children’s stories but the planning tool has been one of the best discoveries. This tool has provided us with a variety of plans to satisfy the needs of families, programs and the Ministry for licensing. We have really begun to utilize this tool to create plans for children’s individual needs, eating habits, team meetings, program changes and more. The opportunities that this tool can provide is endless.”
“Storypark has improved our overall connections with families and we look forward to continuing to discover what it has to offer.”
“At Alta Vista kindergarten and school-age program, we have been exploring different features that Storypark offers. In a school-age program, we find it frustrating that we don’t always get the opportunity to communicate with families regarding their child’s day or progress. We feel that StoryPark has many beneficial and exciting features that help us build and maintain relationships.”
Samantha Pemberton, Program Coordinator – Charles Hulse program, Andrew Fleck Children’s Services
“I had a new child start in my program who was already using Storypark with their previous educator, so when I added them to our classroom I was able to learn so much about the child. Seeing stories that were written from the other centre helped me make the transition to our program easier for the child and family. It also allowed me to know the areas of development that they had been working on and pick up right where they left off.” (Lisa Belton, Program Coordinator, Alta Vista Program, Andrew Fleck Children’s Services
At Alta Vista kindergarten and school-age program, we have been exploring different features that StoryPark offers. In a school-age program, we find it frustrating that we don’t always get the opportunity to communicate with families regarding their child’s day or progress. We feel that Storypark has many beneficial and exciting features that help us to build and maintain relationships. Storypark allows us to access important documents to share with families or other staff, children’s planning notes/documents to support stories and team meeting minutes. We look forward to trying out different ways to use the helpful tools that Storypark has to offer and hope to see the benefits within our program. (Alta Vista team)
Andrew Fleck Childcare Services advocates for high quality, affordable, accessible, accountable and inclusive child care that promotes the optimum physical, emotional, social, cognitive and intellectual development of the child.