On August 31, 2015 the Child Care and Early Years Act, 2014 will replace the Day Nurseries Act as the new legislative framework governing child care in Ontario. How Does Learning Happen was named by the Minister of Education in Ontario as the document to be used by licensed child care centres in Ontario under this new act. The groundwork for How Does Learning Happen is the 2007 publication Early Learning for Every Child Today: A Framework for Ontario Early Childhood Settings, commonly referred to as ELECT, which is referred to in this post.
In our report on Documentation in the Early Childhood Setting, centers we spoke with indicated that completing daily sheets for children was their most time-consuming source of documentation which is why our launch product focused on making this process easier. However, directors also told us that documenting observations of children's development was critical, but almost equally time-consuming.
To address this challenge, we have added into our product the ability to record child developmental observations with photos and videos and align these observations with skills from a relevant framework for tracking child growth and development. With this capability, you can now interact with your children and document their experiences while also educating parents on their development. With the click of a button, apply development domains, root skills and indicators to activities to make learning visual. Equally important, communicate these observations to parents in a way that is engaging for them - digitally and in real-time - to educate them on what their child is learning in your program and bridge the gap with learning at home.
The development framework used within HiMama is customizable to meet the requirements of various states and provinces, as well as those of specific programs. For example, a lot of programs in Ontario are using the ELECT Continuum (Early Learning for Every Child Today) from the Ontario Early Learning Framework (OELF) to document developmental observations with HiMama. ELECT, released in January 2007, is a Best Start initiative from a panel of professionals from the early childhood education and the formal education sectors in Ontario and is based on extensive review of childhood curriculum and pedagogy in Canada and internationally, research findings and the collective professional expertise of panel members.
Here's a sampling of some of the early feedback we've been receiving on documenting developmental observations with HiMama in the childcare and early learning setting:
Bridge learning between your program and home:
“The HiMama site really allows me to feel like I am a part of my kid's daily activities and at the end of the day I can ask them questions to recap what you guys have taught them throughout the day.”
- Childcare Center Parent
Give ECE staff recognition for professional expertise:
“The staff have enjoyed using the program and now feel valued as teachers. They have received feedback and support regarding programming and activities the children are involved in.”
- Childcare Center Supervisor
Revisit past experiences as per Reggio Emilia approach:
“All the picture taking is great for the children because they get to revisit activities they have done and concepts that they have explored again and again as they look through the picture album, alone or with their friends.”
- Early Childhood Educator
The early feedback has been great reinforcement for the benefits of using tablets as a tool to efficiently and effectively document developmental observations and improve parent involvement in children's early learning by providing engaging visual examples of how their child is learning. In addition to the benefits that digital daily sheets are providing to HiMama parents, we're excited by the opportunity to engage parents more regularly and consistently in program curriculum and development assessments in the early childhood setting.