After dozens of interviews with childcare centers and early learning programs, HiMama is pleased to release their report on Documentation in the Early Childhood Setting. Here is a summary of some of the conclusions and findings of the white paper:
Documentation and paperwork are top-of-mind issues for directors
Of all the issues that childcare centers are facing, documentation and paperwork were in the top three issues that were top-of-mind for childcare directors. This was not an overly surprising finding given the inefficiencies embedded in current processes. To put it in perspective, a center of 60 children will spend the equivalent of one full-time staff per year just on children’s documentation.
There is a wide discrepancy in approaches to managing documentation
Some centers are spending less than 15 minutes a day on documentation while others are spending up to 90 minutes a day. Many centers are using Early Learning for Every Child Today (ELECT) and Nipissing as frameworks for documenting learning and development, but there are various other frameworks being used, including many proprietary frameworks. Distribution approaches also vary, however, the vast majority are using handwritten notes and providing parents with a hardcopy of these notes.
Caregivers are experimenting with technology, but lack direction
Childcare providers are increasingly using digital channels to communicate with parents. Almost all centers reported having a website and there has been a very marked increase in the use of email as a means of communication with parents. However, when it comes to the use of technology within centers, there was much less clarity on direction. Even though 25% of centers had a tablet, for example, most of these centers had no vision or plan on how they could maximize value through the use of the tablet.
Fundamentally, childcare providers should avoid documenting for the sake of documenting. They must instead focus on the benefits that their documentation is creating. Benefits should be delivered to all parties – children and parents first and foremost, but also to center directors, supervisors and staff. These benefits should be assessed regularly and if current processes or outputs aren’t working for any of the parties involved, they should be revisited. While there is a lot of external advice out there on documentation approaches, childcare providers should focus on what works for them while best serving the needs of children and parents.
For further information or if you would like to discuss the contents of this report please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Acknowledgments: This report would not have been possible without the participation of the owners, directors, supervisors and staff of those childcare centers that we interviewed. We thank all those who took the time to participate in an interview and who provided us with candid information about their center’s operations and documentation practices.