Moving to Storypark was something that had been on our minds for a wee while, years really! Within the realm of early childhood, many other kaiako and whānau are using Storypark with rave reviews. A quick search through any early childhood facebook forum will tell you it is super popular. Our team always wondered what they were missing out on, and how this platform could be better than the one we were using previously. When we explained our current platform to new members of our community (both kaiako and whānau who had experience with Storypark) they seemed disappointed that this was not the platform we used at the time. Speaking as a kaiako and parent who has used various platforms for online portfolios, Storypark is my favourite and I will tell you why below! Our current platform was moving away from a New Zealand based audience and therefore was not meeting the needs of our kaiako, we had heard that Storypark had more useful tools and features for our kaiako. Frequent feedback from whānau was that our current platform was not very user friendly and at times clunky and frustrating. We decided to take the plunge and have now switched all our centres to Storypark as our new online learning and teaching platform. This process (much to my delight) has been easier, faster and received even more positive feedback from our staff and families than I had hoped for!
We really resonated with the philosophy and values of Storypark; for families and with families. As we are a values-based, family-centred company, the true selling point of Storypark for us was the values at the heart of Storypark as a family-centred company too. Storypark was developed for families, with making a difference for children at the heart of all decision making. Like us, Storypark is an innovative company that is continuously striving for excellence in early childhood and is open to feedback for improvements. The child’s profile is owned by the child and family, not the teachers or service. It is a taonga that families keep with them and have ownership over who can have access to their child’s journey. Parents can carry on documenting the child’s journey and sharing the important information with whānau and other significant people long after their journey with the centre has come to an end. We felt this statement really resonated with us that families were able to have their own page, and that this was an opportunity to really collaborate. We want this journey to be about a partnership, and we feel that Storypark is the best educational learning platform to ensure children are kept at the forefront of their own learning and that we are all connected.
We are proud to support other NZ companies and connecting with Storypark gave us an opportunity to support a local business. Beyond this, it is also a much more relevant platform to connect with our early learning curriculum and various other frameworks, specifically for us as kaiako, whānau, and tamariki in Aotearoa. We love that the learning tags are also not limited to these documents but can be customised for our local curriculum too.
We know communication with families is vital in establishing and maintaining relationships.. Over the last year, our teams had been using messenger based platforms to share regular messages and photos with whānau. Compared to other forms of communication, we found this significantly increased our whānau voice in documentation and partnership around curriculum decisions. However, we were concerned about the security of these other platforms but with Storypark they have that covered! All our team were super excited about the conversation tool in Storypark. Anybody, kaiako or whānau, can start a conversation with any other person in the community. This creates easy connection and communication; kaiako-kaiako, kaiako-whānau, and whānau to whānau. It meant all these messenger groups and conversations about learning can now be on the same platform, safe and secure. For our kaiako, it also meant that their work-life and personal-life can be separate, as previously they had checked all messages out of work time not knowing if it was work-related or not.
So what were the more practical reasons for a shift? Rumour told us Storypark was aesthetically pleasing, an easier layout, much more user-friendly, generally glitch-free and practical. All of which we have found has been true as we have embarked on our Storypark journey. Comments on stories can include photos, videos or even voice recording. This makes commenting easy and can capture more than words all linked to the same story as a conversation. The voice recording helps to capture children’s voices as they read their stories with their adults. Our kaiako who have tried out the app have been delighted at how easy and smooth the app is to use and visually appealing with a clear font and modern colour scheme. So far, everything has felt intuitive to navigate. Storypark is constantly innovating and ways that really matter for children, families and kaiako – their new Child Mode enables children to reflect on and participate even more in their learning and documentation.
We are at the beginning of our journey right now. Storypark did things we thought were going to be tricky transitioning from our previous platform and seamlessly set up our Childspace communities with a profile for each child all ready to go. They also shared with us many links to webinars, videos and help articles so our kaiako were well supported in learning how to use the platform. We are currently at the very beginning of our Storypark journey with our kaiako playing around and having fun getting to know all the exciting features and I can say it has been even easier and valuable than we even hoped it could be! We will be inviting our whānau as soon as our kaiako feel confident, which will not be long at all!
I want to finish with a leadership tip, change is always a little scary and exciting and at times we take too long talking it over when giving it a try is what is going to make the difference. Sometimes the best way forward is to take that leap of faith and dive right in! With Storypark being so easy to use, diving right in has been easy. We are extremely glad we have taken that leap of faith with Storypark and are looking forward to the amazing curriculum, planning, communication and assessment that will be enriched because of it and the impacts Storypark has made on our practice, so watch this space!
The Childspace Institute is an educational organisation committed to improving Early Childhood Education provision and practices.
With four early childhood centres in Wellington, Childspace provides inspiration for practical professional development, resources and designs.