heuristic play in early education

How Educa Supports Parent Cooperative Preschools and Child Care Centres

Playcentre is a parent cooperative for early education in New Zealand. Playcentre’s rich and unique philosophy of child-initiated play views parents as the first and best educators of their own children. Amy Crookston, former President of Ngaio Playcentre, shares her experience of adapting the Educa site to meet their specific needs and the impact she has felt at Ngaio.

Simplicity for Parent Educators

The experience amongst the Parent Educators at Ngaio Playcentre varies greatly, with more accomplished Educators working alongside those who are new to the role. Amy was looking to bring the Parent Educators together and encourage her members to equally contribute to a child’s learning journey, regardless of experience. This led Amy to explore e-portfolio software for Ngaio Playcentre.

“We wanted more of our parents to write learning stories more often and thought that having one place that had the ability to upload photos and write stories, or at least take notes while on session, could make this simpler”

Amy Crookston, President

Recognising the varying levels of IT competency at her centre, Amy was searching for a program which was simple, yet effective.

“Educa was easy to use, easy to read like a blog and we loved the news feed on our phones!”

The simplicity of the site has allowed all the Parent Educators to get involved in writing learning stories, which has created a stronger community around the child’s development where Parent Educators can more easily share ideas and learn from each other.

“New Parent Educators are writing better learning stories earlier due to reading each other’s educator stories” Amy says. “This never happened before. They just sat in folders and only the parent would read them. Now everybody does because it is entertaining, like reading your Facebook feed.”

Continuity is Central

Before joining Educa, ERO had identified that there was a need at Ngaio Playcentre for stronger linking between assessment and learning processes. Amy understood that it was crucial for “Parent Educators to be able to read what others wrote to create the continuity we were looking for.”

“The connections between our Learning Stories, our Planning, our Evaluation and our PLODs is intense. Educa allows our Parent Educators to see what other children, besides their own, are doing and learning as recently as yesterday. They know the kids better and are able to respond to their learning needs quicker and build better relationships, faster.

The dedication and hard work from the staff at Ngaio Playcentre has certainly paid off, with a stronger emphasis on information sharing, which hasn’t gone unnoticed since they started using Educa, “Our last ERO review showed we have excellent practice and we gained a 4 yearly renewal.”

Meeting Playcentre’s Needs

Due to the unique nature of how Playcentres operate it was vital that Educa was able to be moulded around their specific requirements, “The set up at the start was quite good and we were able to adapt it to meet our needs” Amy recalls.

Currently the teams at Ngaio post their evaluations as journal posts, which is just one example of how they have adapted Educa to work for them, “This means that we can see the evaluations in our newsfeed and keep everyone up to date with what happened today.”

With rotating teams of Parent Educators it is vital that staff can easily share and access daily learning records to inform their approach, “So the up to date nature of journal posting is amazing.”

For other Playcentres considering Educa Amy recommends taking full advantage of its features and versatility,

“Do it, but set it up right so you don’t just have a Portfolio system. Use it to create continuity by making it easy and fun for your members to read about other people’s kids. The impact will be huge!”

If you’re interested in trialing Educa for yourself, try us here.


Download the case study here

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