Daily sheets are one of the most important tools a preschool uses to document a child’s development. They provide a record for teachers and directors to refer back to when observing progress. For parents, they are one of the only ways to know what their child has done that day (just try asking a 14-month-old for a detailed summary of their day!).
As helpful as paper daily sheets can be, they are far from perfect. Read on to see the less than glamorous side of paper daily sheets that we try to ignore but in many cases are the unfortunate reality.
1. They feel antiquated.
In the age of apps and push notifications, each year paper daily sheets feel a little more stuck in the past — especially as more and more new parents are from the generation that grew up with these technologies being the norm.
When parents email or text all day with everything else, nothing makes a center feel more out of date than relaying important information through a piece of paper.
Love it or hate it, digital communication has become much more commonplace than paper, and a center can only be modern if it embraces the customs of the modern parent.
2. They’re the bane of a teacher’s existence.
Early childhood educators have one of the busiest jobs. When you’re running around helping with bathroom time, preparing snacks, putting on outfits, breaking up squabbles, fixing a boo boo and so on, the last thing you want to do is fill out a dozen handwritten reports.
Since handwriting can be time-consuming, many teachers wait for downtime to fill out daily sheets. Often this can only be during their free time such as naptime or while eating their meal. This can be incredibly tedious, not to mention inaccurate because they need to recall a lot of detailed information for many children by memory.
3. Parents lose them.
In the pickup time scramble, parents do not have an organized spot to safely store a daily sheet. More often, it is shoved into a backpack, pocket, trunk, or wherever else they can be placed “for now.”
Later that evening, remembering where it was placed can be impossible — if it hasn’t already been destroyed in the process!
4. Some parents throw them away without reading them.
Nothing is more demotivating than working hard on something, only to see it in the trash bin on your way out after an exhausting day. When staff retention is already such a challenge in early childhood education, you want to do anything you can to keep your team happy and motivated.
When parents aren’t interested in the information they are given, they are also missing out on important milestones in their child’s development. That’s why it’s so important to present the information in a way that they find compelling so that they are helping to support your learning initiatives at home.
5. Information is soon forgotten.
In a perfect world, parents have a binder at home where they store every daily sheet they’ve received, full of their own post-it notes, highlights and analysis. In the real world, however, they skim the page, go about their evening, and forget everything the next day.
This creates a cycle where only the most recent updates are remembered, without the context of everything that has come before it. This can be especially concerning when daily sheets have important notices or reminders, such as needing to bring in extra supplies or a center being closed for the day.
6. They cause a lot of clutter.
As mentioned, parents usually don’t have a neat spot to store all of their daily sheets, and so they end up with a few in the car, a pile on the kitchen counter, on the floor, under the table, and so on.
Similarly, they can also cause a lot of clutter for child care providers. Teachers have a pile of loose papers on desks, binders full of blank ones for future dates, and so on. And when you’re in an environment that’s as prone to disorganization as a daycare, adding unnecessary clutter should be avoided at all costs.
7. They waste a lot of paper.
It goes without saying that paper daily sheets are made with…paper. When you consider all the children at a center receiving at least one piece of paper every day, then factoring how many they receive each week, month, and year, it quickly adds up to a lot.
The more paper you use, the more trees need to be chopped down, shipped, manufactured into paper, and shipped to your location, which we all know isn’t so great for the environment. Even if you’re strict about recycling, the best thing for the environment is to bypass this process altogether.
8. They don’t fully capture a moment.
The excitement or significance of a moment can be lost without a picture or video to show it. No matter how descriptive, sometimes you really need to see something in order to fully understand.
For example, consider the difference between:
Alex had fun dancing today!
With photos and video, parents can actually see what the teacher is describing (and maybe have a few questions of their own as a result).
9. They can be hard to read.
When paper daily sheets are filled out hastily, handwriting can be difficult to read, not to mention have many grammar and spelling mistakes. These reports are filled out by the people that parents have entrusted their child with, and you don’t want them thinking, “this is the person who is teaching my child?!?”
10. Tracking progress is difficult.
When completing assessments, it is important to reflect on a child’s development over time. Trying to find all of the notes that have been recorded for a particular skill or domain can quickly turn into endless flipping and reading, which can be very time intensive and exhausting.
Although paper daily sheets can be great at communicating information for a particular day, they are not designed for analysis over many weeks, months or years.
Time to bring your daily sheets into the 21st century? Fill out the form below to see how HiMama can make recording, reading and analyzing your daily sheets easier!