As early years professionals we have a duty to share information with parents, to help support children’s learning and development, but finding time for information sharing and completing learning journals can sometimes be a challenge.
I know from experience that one of parents’ biggest concerns is that they’ll miss out on key milestones of their child’s development when they are at work. Parents are the most important people in a child’s life and so sharing information is vital – they want to know what their child has been doing, what he or she is achieving and also if there are areas that they need more support. Add to this that a great deal of learning and development occurs at home means two-way communication between a childcare professional and parents is key.
While learning journeys are a great way to record observations and share information, these tend to go home less frequently, so don't have such an immediate impact. They can also add to an already busy workload for practitioners when printing off photos and information to include. Let’s face it, celebrating a child’s achievements shouldn’t be seen as a chore - after all it is why we work in early years. We love seeing them grow and develop and it is the single most rewarding part of the job, so why not make sharing that simpler. You can see a handy guide of what to put in the learning journals – with examples of learning outcomes broken down by age group – here.
In 2016 I chose to switch from manually writing diaries and printing reports to an online learning journey. I have been using Kinderly and it is one of the best things I ever did. I have moved away from folders and find I am saving both time and money by recording everything online. More importantly, parents are able to enjoy their child’s achievements instantly and constantly, rather than the folder being either at my setting or their home.
Storing all documentation for one child in one place has allowed me to easily share information with parents - I can take a photo and upload an observation with links to the EYFS for a parent to see instantly. This means parents feel involved and can also work on those next steps at home – they love seeing photos and videos – and get a real insight into their children’s daily activities and everyday achievements. I can also send an annotated group activity photo to all parents of children involved with just one click of a button!
But it isn’t just about ticking the EYFS boxes – this system allows me to record all food, drink, sleep and generate daily reports so parents have a complete overview of not just the fun and learning we have, but the information they need about their children’s welfare. This diary can be set to automatically send at a certain time of day, so I don’t forget to send it in the busy handover period and parents could even receive it on the train ride home before they pick their child up. It’s a good idea to talk to parents about the best time to send these to ensure they get the most out of reading and benefitting from the information.
I haven't had an OFSTED inspection since using the system, but feedback I have received from others say how much the inspector liked how this encouraged effective two way partnership working between carer and parent. I anticipate that I will be able to demonstrate my recorded practice as easily, if not easier, than I have done before using my paper system.
Before I made the switch, the thought of changing to an online offering was really daunting but now I could never go back to pen and paper. Sharing information, knowledge and understanding with parents is vital to help support them and their child. It is this knowledge which supports us as childcare professionals to meet the individual needs of the child, and in turn helps parents to value and respect our role.
When the Kinderly accounts package was introduced last October, I was even more impressed as this has cut down my admin time considerably. I was using a rather unwieldy accounts package which I could only access on my computer, changing to this system has meant quicker invoicing and more complete expenses. I can access the accounts on my phone, so when I incur an expense I can enter it easily and immediately – no more forgetting those small amounts, which let’s face it, all add up! Easy invoicing and up to date expenses meant completing my Tax return this year was simple. Next year it will be even easier when I've had a full year using the system.
So, if I was to give my top four top tips/ideas to get you started using an online learning system:
- One would be to talk to your parents about it, explain to them the benefits of being able to access their child’s journey electronically, the data is secure and more information can be found on this if they need reassuring.
- Set up a test child so that during the month free trial you can use this to get to grips with how to use the system and how parents will see things.
- Remember, children learn through play, but so do adults, so just have a play with it and if you need help, use the instant chat, there is a really helpful team on hand to ensure you can really get the most from your experience, which ultimately means the parents and children will too.
- Save a link to the web page on your phone/tablet home screen. Some of the usage is available through the app, but others like the accounts package and report writing is only available through the web page at present, so saving a link means I can access these easily on the go.
- Take the plunge, give it a go, you’ll never look back!
Kinderly is the award-winning early years app for recording and sharing learning journeys, allowing childcare professionals to securely record EYFS framework observations and developmental progress, without the need for any paperwork. The partnership between PACEY and Kinderly means that members can take advantage of an exclusive discount. Prices start at £8+VAT per month – a 20 per cent saving on Kinderly’s standard subscription fee.