Many progressive child care and early learning programs have a philosophy of providing every child with individualized attention. These programs recognize that every child develops in their own unique way. However, most of these programs have not yet aligned their communications to match this philosophy, most often using traditional communication methods.
Traditional communication methods that I see in programs often include monthly newsletters and calendars, infant/toddler daily sheets, online galleries with children’s pictures, and postings of activities and projects in the center. While many of these communication methods are beneficial, most do not align with the philosophy of recognizing each child’s unique development, instead of summarizing activities and outputs more widely at the class or the center level.
While face-to-face interactions are a preferred channel for providing parents with information specific to their child’s development, there are practical barriers, the primary of which is time. Early childhood educators care for multiple children at a time and increasingly busy families simply do not have the time for lengthy in-person conversations on a daily basis, making it unfeasible to focus exclusively on this channel of communication. That’s where technology comes in.
Many busy families are already using technology to stay connected, so it is only sensible that child care and early learning programs would also use this channel to connect with families. The key here is that technology offers the efficiency required to document and communicate observations and information to parents on an individual child basis, which would not be possible with manual processes or using dated technology, like digital cameras. Therefore, if your program philosophy is to provide individual attention for your children and you spend the time and effort to do this, you should also be leveraging the technology that is available to you to communicate with parents on an individual level.
A good example of a progressive child care organization following this approach is Only About Children based in Australia and with a tagline of ‘Childcare for the 21st century’. One of their mottos is ‘One size doesn’t fit all’ and they translate this into practice by offering parents an online portfolio specific to their child called The Family Lounge which provides parents with access to work samples, learning stories, and text, photo and video observations of their child’s development.