Cairns TAFE Community Child Care is a nonprofit community service where family voices matter.
Run by a parent management committee, they focus on providing the best care possible with an educational program based on the emergent curriculum.
Despite low staff turnover and a strong, supportive community, the centre was facing a challenge that is common throughout the early childhood education community:
Lack of time and resources to document and share learning with
families, and as a result, a lack of family input.
“Although we have great relationships with our families we felt we couldn’t get through to them about how our program is designed to enhance learning through children’s interests,” says Barb Weeks, Director at Cairns TAFE Community Child Care.
In 2015 they decided to try Educa. Within 3 weeks, they received more parent feedback than the previous two years combined.
Transforming Communication With Families
Now, instead of handwritten updates sent home every few months in a book, educators and parents have regular discussions via Educa.
“A parent arrived one morning and said, ‘I love this new app, before I might have read his scrapbook two weeks after an activity, but now I can read
about it the day it happens. When my son comes home we can talk about it, and it is still fresh in his mind.” Says Barb.
“When the families started responding with messages and adding their
own stories I knew Educa was what our service needed.”
This communication led to stronger partnerships with families, motivating the staff to share more.
Improving Processes & Efficiency
Educa made it easy for the team at Cairns TAFE Community Child Care to let families know about their educational program, and how each child was progressing. This made meeting legislative requirements and National Quality Standards a breeze.
“I had always thought Partnerships with families was our strong point as we are a small service and all educators get to know all the families over a short period of time. But now I look back and realise how much closer Educa has brought us to our families,” says Barb.
Educa’s reporting feature enabled Barb and her team to identify potential areas of improvement and track progress efficiently.
Measuring Results and Key Outcomes
We asked Barb to identify some key outcomes she has experienced at her centre as a result of using Educa, here were her top five:
o Connecting with families
o Staff motivation
o Family input into programs
o More observations documented
o Sense of pride in what we do
“The reports available on Educa save us a lot of time, particularly when trying to communicate important information to management and educators,” says Barb.
“Educators can see how many learning stories have been documented for each child by month, how many times families have viewed the site, and which curriculum has been referred to most often.”
Families have now begun to understand how great the learning program is, and understand how much effort educators put into the development of each child.
“The toddlers had been interested in trains, so following the children’s interest, trains became the focus of the toddlers planned learning experiences. We documented this using Educa. A parent said to an educator ‘I am learning so much from the stories on Educa. You are so clever the way you are teaching everything through trains’. Wow, families are beginning to understand play based learning!”
We’re excited to see what’s next for Barb and her team of educators who are truly passionate about connecting families with their children’s development.