Malengenna Children’s Centre is a 67 place centre offering centre-based care for children from birth to seven years of age and is part of the wider group of Devonport Child Care Centres. Being relatively new to using Storypark, the teams at Devonport Child Care Centres quickly found it to be an invaluable tool as they navigated the turbulent waters of the year that was 2020. With two statements from their philosophy being “we build connections between children, families, team members, our services and the community” and “we value each of our team members equally; improving practices, continuing professional development and encouraging open and honest communication”, 2020 certainly was a year that saw their learning communities bring these statements to life in their practice.

As an organisation, Devonport Child Care Centres have been using Storypark for 2 years. They continue to develop and find their own unique ways to use it in a way that suits their learning communities, however, they have found Storypark to be supportive of their learning programs, and their families have enjoyed being more involved in their children’s overall learning.

During the restrictions they have faced due to COVID-19, educators found the community post feature to be a wonderful way to stay connected to children, families and to other members of their teaching teams. They were very creative in the ways that they continued to support children’s learning at home, creating and sharing resources for families in the form of printable activities, photos, and videos. They created videos of science experiments and storytelling sessions that children could participate in from home with their families. It was also used to communicate essential information, keeping families updated with practices and procedures related to the local pandemic response and the implications this posed to their communities.

Educational leader at Malangenna Children’s Centre, Lisa Burke shared how Storypark had supported the teaching teams to fulfil their roles during the restrictions, telling us that Storypark enabled there to be a link between educators and the families using community posts. They were able to invite them to collect packs the educators had created to support children’s learning at home. The conversations tool was also very well used, replacing those all too important face to face discussions that they were missing. As a completely new way of working, Lisa says it enabled them to explore new ways of communicating and offered families a way to contribute and communicate back. “It’s been amazing to have families involved!”

We asked Lisa to share any advice she has for learning services around the world that are still being impacted by COVID-19. She encourages educators to use Storypark as a communication tool, both for individual conversations and group posts. She also suggested educators sharing storytime videos they have created, science experiments and favourite recipes. She said that the children really enjoyed watching the videos educators made reading stories as it was something they were able to re-watch again and again. This can have such a positive impact on the children as it is something familiar for them to engage with during unfamiliar times. Lisa said that her teaching team received fantastic feedback from families saying that children were having conversations with their families about their educators, the stories they shared, and about their centre life pre-COVID.

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I’m Lisa, the Early Childhood Teacher and Educational Leader at Malangenna Children’s Centre. I have been in Early Childhood Education for 15 years in a variety of roles and positions. I love the work I do with children, families, educators and other professionals.

Posted by Sonya McIntyre

Sonya was born in Lower Hutt and went to Rata Street Kindergarten and Petone Kindergarten. A qualified ECE, she studied at Victoria University in Wellington and has worked with home-based educators, in community-based childcare and in kindergarten. With childhood memories of reading books and writing stories, combined with her passion for all things social media, Sonya segued into her role with us at Storypark as social media manager.

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