Website lets parents keep in touch

JO MOIR
Last updated 05:00 25/03/2014
St Mark’s Church Preschoo
KEVIN STENT/FAIRFAX NZ

LOOK MUM, NO GUILT: St Mark’s Church Preschool pupils Felecia Roles and Andreas Focas, both 4, work on a project with teacher and preschool dean Zoe Roles, which will be uploaded to Storypark for their families to see and comment on.

St Mark’s Church Preschoo
St Mark’s Church Preschoo

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Busy parents wanting to keep track of their children's learning at a Wellington preschool can do so from the office.

For the past year St Mark's Church Preschool has been using Storypark - a website that enables teachers, parents and family members to be involved with a child's learning through videos, photos and comments.

Teachers upload children's work as they're learning - at which point their family get a notification allowing them to see and comment on it immediately.

"We used to write learning stories on paper, we tried hanging work on the walls and a few other things, but never got any feedback," preschool dean Zoe Roles said.

"Things get shoved in the schoolbag and forgotten about, and it just wasn't living in the now." Now parents can be a part of their children's learning throughout the day and were more educated on what to talk to their children about when they got home from work.

The year 1 children at St Mark's Primary School are also trialing Storypark this year to get more parents engaged in their learning.

"Parents have really embraced it and upload their own stories from home now as well. Straight away we get a notification to see what other learning they're doing when they're not here," St Mark's year 1 teacher Angelee Jarrett said.

Teachers at the school save time using Storypark because all of a child's learning and reporting can be done in one software programme.

There are now 60 pupils at St Mark's using Storypark, and the Wellington company behind the website is working with more than 9000 teachers, parents and families across 58 countries.

Co-founder Peter Dixon said parents told him they felt empowered using Storypark and better understood what their children were doing at early childhood centres.

"It's a great tool for busy parents trying to keep in touch with grandparents and other family, which can be a hassle, and parents feel guilty if they're not involving them enough," Dixon said.

"This way they don't have to do as much work and it relieves that guilt."

Next month Dixon will be submitting to the education and science select committee, which has been hearing submissions as part of an inquiry into engaging parents in their children's education.

"There are many centres that don't have the resources to engage parents properly so I'll be encouraging Government to invest in the early childhood sector in the same way Network For Learning has provided for the primary school sector," he said.

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