Pedagogical documentation in early childhood education and care (ECEC) is in the core of Finnish pedagogy and thus also mentioned in the National Core Curriculum. The traditional way of orchestrating documentation is quite complicated and takes more time than necessary. Seeing the need for a more fluent way of documenting and communicating with parents inspired Jessi van der Burgh and her partners to solve the issue.
The Importance of Pedagogical Documentation and Communication with Parents
Documenting the pedagogical activities and the learning process of children in the ECEC centres is important. It supports the Finnish mentality that each child has their own learning path. Observing and then documenting the child’s development gives insight to their interests, strengths and challenges. Anomalies are better detected, and support given accordingly. Knowing the child also helps to organise varying and individually tailored learning situations.
Parents and educators know how important continuous communication flow is, especially regarding the information concerning young children. When working as a kindergarten teacher, van der Burgh realised that communication was organised through too many channels; notes, texts and conversations. Some information was missed, duplicated or received too late because of human errors. Pedagogical documentation was also an issue. Managing a folder for each child took time and parents didn’t receive comprehensive information about the daily actions. Van der Burgh and her co-worker Milla Mikkola figured a way to combine pedagogical documentation and communication with parents in one platform, Kindiedays.
How Is Documentation Done Smoothly and Inclusively?
In most of the ECEC centres documentation includes taking pictures, cutting and gluing them on paper, which then goes to the child’s folder. The idea behind Kindiedays is to have everything in one platform from where it’s easier to share with parents in real time. There are five main steps in the process of documenting and sharing.
- Observing the child and recording the activities with a smartphone.
- Talking with the child about the activities done with the help of the pictures, and hearing the child’s experience or viewpoint to avoid any misconceptions. (The child’s art masterpiece was about lions not dogs.)
- Tagging the objectives the child practiced and learned during the activity. The objectives can be altered according the curriculum used in the centre.
- Sharing the information with the child’s parents. Parents have access to relevant info about the child’s location and activities done.
- Observing the child’s progress for a long period of time. Parents and educators can praise and give support according the situation.
Because the information and pictures shared are private data protection is taken seriously. Educators have only access to the information about the children in their centre, and parents can only see their child’s details. Otherwise application works on any device with an internet connection.
Deeper Connections in ECEC Centres and at Homes
One of the main reasons van der Burgh and Mikkola wanted a better way of documentation was the time-consuming process of the documentation. The quicker it’s done the more time they have for the children. However, saving time isn’t the only benefit of using Kindiedays.
In addition to managing curriculum, timetables and reports from one place, management can follow the time each teacher spends in different areas of teaching. The manager can then support the teachers to be more holistic or direct them to certain activities according to their strengths, but the information is still saved in the same platform. Van der Burgh tells an example: “In our previous kindergarten, I would take the other group’s sport classes and then another teacher would take my group’s art classes. These were something we were strong at, which meant that the kids got the best out of it.”
These kinds of reports and analysis deepen the communication in the workplace. Everyone can observe their own development and together build a better team, which acknowledges the strengths of each person. Even the relationships with children get better when all the teachers can see what the situation with each child is.
Most importantly though, the interactions at home deepen. Imagine that you are picking up your child from the kindergarten in the afternoon. The child’s day has been full of activities and new interesting things. But when you ask the them about it you get a short answer, or description about the last 15 minutes they remember. Understandably, a toddler can’t remember and describe their entire day in one go.
Now imagine a different situation, where after the pickup you arrive home, eat dinner and start another conversation with the child. But this time you have access to their online profile. You show them the pictures taken by the teachers, and a detailed story about the situation behind the picture begins. With more specific questions you gain deeper insight to the child’s world. The little one feels heard and understood, while at the same time their learning deepens from repeating the things learnt earlier.
Kindiedays is official partner of Polar Partners.
Written by Polar Partners’ marketing intern Juliaana Kärkkäinen