Theresa Johnson of PACEY explains how online learning journeys can mean less paper and more engagement
Early years professionals have a duty to share information with parents, to help support children’s learning and development. But last year a PACEY survey highlighted that the burden of paperwork was the biggest issue for a quarter of practitioners.
We know that paperwork can be onerous, and finding time for information sharing and completing learning journeys is often a challenge. But one of the commonly expressed concerns of parents who rely on childcare professionals is that they are missing out on key aspects of their child’s development.
After all, no one wants to miss their child’s first attempts at crawling or their first wobbly steps, or to be unaware that their vocabulary has expanded whilst they are at work. So the importance of sharing information and two-way communication cannot be underestimated.
Involving parents and carers from the very beginning, using everything from induction, settling-in sessions and daily chats through to the sharing of resources, social events and information sessions, will help build a strong relationship (you can find more ideas as to how to engage with parents in PACEY’s 30 Ways to Engage Parents in Children’s Learning).
But don’t forget learning journeys – rather than simply being a one-way record, they are an excellent way of helping engage parents more actively and shouldn’t be seen as a chore, more as a great way to collectively celebrate and log a child’s achievements.
Learning journeys can be recorded digitally or in hard copy, but at PACEY we have seen a real rise in digital solutions, as more and more practitioners turn to technology – particularly online and app-based resources – to improve parental engagement in their settings.
While the thought of changing to a purely online offering can be daunting, these systems have huge advantages in the setting and provide a platform for a more structured and effective form of communication with parents and carers. Acknowledging the learning and development that occurs at home is key.
The benefits of using online learning journeys include:
• Increased effectiveness and efficiency for businesses. These systems can save both time and money by removing the need for cumbersome folders, manually writing diaries and printing reports.
• All aspects of the learning journey are recorded in one web-based system. Practitioners can store all documentation for their setting in one place, helping them to share information and in turn build parent partnerships and heighten engagement.
• Enhanced communication with parents. Online learning journeys can provide mums and dads with digital updates on their child’s development, as well as their daily routine. By seeing photos and videos, parents get an insight into their children’s daily activities and everyday achievements.
Online systems allow professionals to track the progress of all children in a setting at a glance, and create and share reports with parents instantly.
• Document sharing is straightforward. Parents can be given easy access to policies and procedures, with digital versions stored online, ready to be sent out to whoever needs them.
• It’s easy to evidence your practice. Online learning journeys also provide an invaluable platform to show Ofsted inspectors what you are offering children.
Children will experience a range of transitions during their early years – from moving rooms in nursery, to changing key person and starting school. Childcare professionals have a vital role during these periods of change. Sharing information, knowledge and understanding with parents is vital to help support them and their child through times of transition. That knowledge supports the childcare professional to meet the individual needs of the child, and helps parents to value and respect their role.
Theresa Johnson is Training and Development Manager at PACEY.
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 plus VAT per month – a 20% saving on Kinderly’s standard subscription fee. Visit kinderly.co.uk/pacey.