USING TECHNOLOGY TO ENGAGE AND COLLABORATE WITH PARENTS
Technology is changing for preschools and early education programs. Secure online sharing software now makes it possible for preschools to include family members in the daily learning. Teachers send individual and group stories about learning activity to parents and other interested parties.
Sharing the learning is different from sharing “moments.” For instance, “Little Johnny was crying when you dropped him off but look at him smiling now.” That’s sharing a moment, like a private Instagram.
Sharing learning, the focus of software like Educa, is the next level up. “Here is a picture of little Johnny cutting out a circle with scissors, working on his fine motors skills.” Parents learn from the articulation of the skills being nurtured. Meanwhile the teacher stores the activity and maps it to curriculum and/or learning goals for that child.
Building Family Engagement
There is an obvious benefit to this for preschools. It keeps parents informed, and what parent doesn’t enjoy getting regular updates on their child’s progress? And furthermore, it fits the raised learning expectations being placed on pre-K these days.
However, beyond that instant gratification aspect, there are major benefits, many surprising, that come from family engagement. These outcomes are why so many countries around the world and states in the US (as seen in QRIS) are now promoting family engagement as a way to improve early childhood learning outcomes.
Here are some of the more surprising benefits for preschools who share the learning that explain this new emphasis on family engagement.
#1. Parents Join in, Accelerating The Learning
Send a parent a note saying this week we are working on the letter B, and parents will start playing Eye Spy with their child, focusing on things beginning with B. Send a parent a picture of a child looking at and naming birds and they will keep up the bird-watching at home.
Each of these posts creates a new learning opportunity for the child. An opportunity that the parent would not have had, if the sharing had not taken place. By engaging parents this way, a teacher is effectively doubling the learning opportunities by recruiting parents to reinforce and build on what is occurring in the preschool.
#2. Teachers Love the Positive Parent Feedback
Drop off and pick up are hectic for teachers and parents alike. Consequently, many teachers feel they do not have the connection to parents they’d like. This is where an online sharing platform can be powerful. When teachers send anecdotes, parents are normally appreciative. They feel comfortable with the private, secure channel that they now have with the teacher and will very often express their gratitude for your communication by replying.
And as we all know, positive feedback is powerful. It’s addictive. Once teachers start connecting with parents in this intimate and positive way, the number of learning anecdotes the teachers send tends to multiply. It’s a virtuous cycle where everyone benefits.
#3. Learning Outcomes Accelerate
Learning outcomes at the preschool level are hard to measure. We do know though that the best outcomes will occur when the teaching is individualized to the child, and when the learning opportunities are plentiful. Sharing the learning plays a powerful role here.
Each time a parent replies to a teacher’s message, the teacher will learn something about the child. If a picture of a child working in a group elicits a response from the parent about his social skills, the teacher has more to work with. A picture showing a child planting seeds in a garden may lead parents to ask if they should start a garden at home for their child. In this way, the teacher learns about the child and the home environment, improving their ability to provide individualized teaching and guidance that can inspire that child.
The eventual learning outcomes are not completely unknown, however. Educa allows teachers to map each and every child activity to a curriculum goal or learning outcome that becomes part of that child’s record. By referring to this historical record, teachers can see strengths and weaknesses, allowing them to be more targeted in future interactions with each child. For instance, there might be a lack of evidence of a child working in groups, and so teachers know to provide more opportunities for that child to play within a group.
#4. Teacher Job Satisfaction Rises
One of the challenges of being a preschool teacher is that sometimes it is hard to feel you are making a difference.
The power of a sharing platform like Educa is a real game changer. Teachers feel they know their children better because of the regular interactions with parents. And they know they are doing a good job every time a parent responds to a learning story shared.
This promotes a sense of satisfaction for teachers. With Educa, they receive positive feedback about the wonderful learning activities they have undertaken. Educa saves teachers admin time and frees them up to do what they love to do. Teach.
#5. Parents Share Posts with Other Parents
Parents of preschools that share learning are constantly reminded of the positive things going at the preschool. It’s front of mind, and so it’s more likely to come up in conversations with others. These conversations help increase referrals, which are one of the most powerful drivers of enrollment success.
Posts made in a secure platform like Educa cannot be “shared” on other social media networks. This means parents choose who can see the updates.
#6. Sharing Can Help Accountability, Compliance & Quality Ratings
Every shared learning activity becomes part of that child’s record. In addition, teachers enter notes on their activity either relating to individual children, to curriculum goals, or to both.
These records and teacher notes, entered steadily through the year to engage parents and to meet preschool management requirements have an added value. They are evidence of learning activity.
Many preschools are able to use their Educa records in quality rating submissions and in response to compliance audits, etc. For instance, most states include proof of family engagement in their version of QRIS. Active sharing can help raise QRIS ratings for preschools in most states.
Furthermore, many preschool owners and directors rely on the Educa activity record to manage accountability in the preschool. Compliance and internal accountability: Two surprising benefits from the simple sharing of learning.
#7. Sharing Curriculum & Communicating Educational Philosophies
Using secure networks it is simple and easy to communicate with families about your teaching philosophies.
Curriculum sharing at the beginning of each week via a secure network allows preschools to enlist parents in the learning. When everybody around the child is on the same page, the learning opportunities multiply. For instance, sharing that the letter of the week is “B.”
Furthermore, this sharing can have educational value for parents, helping them understand your philosophy and learning goals. Some parents might have doubts about the educational value of their child using play-dough, for instance. But by sharing the fine motor skill, color recognition and other values of play-dough, you can ease their concerns.
#8. Demonstrating Educational Value Of Your Program
Every time you share curriculum in a post to all parents or you send parents a story with activity that connects to curriculum or learning goals, you are establishing your educational credentials. You are providing evidence of the learning that is going on in your early learning establishment.
This raises the perceived value of your program. It reinforces the parents’ belief that sending their child to your school was a good decision.
#9. Parents Will Love You
Okay, maybe this one is not “surprising.” For the families you work with, feeling a stronger connection to the preschool and receiving regular updates about their child will lead to a love affair with your preschool. They will feel comforted and confident in the work you are doing.
And parents who might not otherwise engage will see the value in what you are doing for their child. More than likely they will reward your preschool with positive feedback. Furthermore, they might send siblings to your preschool and/or tell others about the great job you are doing.
Test drive shared learning on our live demo site.