Sharing the Ambition Team’s
From the staff & family survey results, one key theme emerged: communication.
Each Working Party member has chosen a parental engagement & involvement strategy based upon improving communication, from those that families suggested in our Sharing the Ambition survey, as the focus for a professional enquiry project. You can learn more about each play project, read staff, family & children’s reflections, and add your own feedback by following the individual blog posts below.
Online Learning Journals
One way that child-centred pedagogy is championed is through the use of keen observation. Observation of the child – emotions, words & actions – informs every aspect of my practice – spaces, interactions & experiences – to create an ever-evolving feedback loop of observation, planning & assessment. The children in my setting are now explicitly involved in this process, so the natural next step is to involve families in the same way. Our Nursery team have recently introduced online learning journals so, to enhance our N-P1 transition, we have adopted the same approach as a means to communicate learning between school & home, staff & families.
The results from our initial family survey highlight the want for more communication between staff and parents/carers. It has been asked that this is 2-way communication, which allows for families to gain a better insight into classroom life and the learning their child is doing, and for parents/carers to be able to respond, add photos or ask questions. Microsoft TEAMs is a platform used widely across City of Edinburgh schools for its many applications and because it passes GDPR regulations. I hope to use it to increase communication between myself and families of the children in my class. I will aim to write a weekly blog post and for children and their families to respond with what they enjoyed/did not enjoy, discuss any activities that have been carried out at home, etc. It may provide a tool that opens up learning conversations at home rather than the ‘What did you do at school today?’…’Nothing,’ conversation!
We value our relationships with our families and would love to strengthen the partnership between home and school especially given the challenging circumstances we find ourselves in. Firstly, we would like to share information about the play-based pedagogy and why we believe that ‘play is the way’. It is important to us that we have an open dialogue with parents and we welcome questions about the value of play. We would also like to provide play ideas that our children may enjoy at home and encourage parents to share photos of their children engaged in play outwith school. Sharing home experiences helps us to get to know the children better. We are also keen to help our families feel more confident about consolidating new learning at home. We plan to make short video clips of the way we teach phonics (sounds) in school. Hopefully this will encourage our children to talk about their learning and support families in practising the sounds at home.
We are seeking to improve our communication and links with our Nursery parents. Recently we have sent out a family questionnaire to our families to gain their views on what is working well and what we can do to improve. We currently send out weekly Nursery newsletters, using Microsoft Sway. This allows photos and videos to be added, and we are looking to increase engagement with the newsletters as well improve useful content for Nursery families and parents. We are keen to ensure we build and sustain home and Nursery links during this time when parents are not allowed in the Nursery and that contact is limited due to Covid-19. Recently we have introduced a monthly Nursery and Home Link theme. October’s theme was special places and families were encouraged to let us know special places for their family across the world and to send in photos. This has then been displayed on a world map in the Nursery and engaging in these conversations. We would like to continue to develop this, and the sharing of this learning with families using our weekly Nursery newsletters.
To enable our young people to develop to their full potential, we need to support children to learn through their own interests, balanced with learning in all areas of the curriculum.
In my setting we support children to extend their learning, deepen their thinking and make progress through our environments and with high quality interactions. Since coming back in August, the Nursery and Primary 1 have been posting weekly blogs to share this with our families, we would now like to develop these as a means of communication of learning from school/nursery to home.
For my professional enquiry project I am planning to make stronger links to the home by sharing children’s play and learning with families through weekly updates on learning journals. Along with the weekly updates there will be linked suggestions to do at home which will support families with extending their child’s interests and learning. I will also be promoting the sharing of our setting’s floorbooks, again through learning journals, for families to see the leaning that has taken place and how their child’s voice and thoughts are valued and built upon. My enquiry project will provide families with opportunity to be involved in, share and celebrate their child’s play, learning and achievements.
Interactive Learning Diaries
Through the use of ILDs, I want to ensure that parents/carers are given information about their child’s learning and experiences in nursery. I want to encourage more parental engagement through them sharing information from activities from home, and their commenting on their child’s observations. I would like to provide information and suggestions of play ideas for home to support child development and learning. From parental feedback, I would like to provide them with an overview of the activities undertaken within nursery each week.
Interactive Setting Tours
For my project I plan to inform our parents and carers of the importance of play using a virtual tour. I will use hyperlinks in images of our play spaces and provision to share our learning and record the voice of the child. Whenever a parent/carer clicks on a hyperlink they will be able to find out more about the types of play that are likely to take place and the skills that are developed through this. They will also be able to watch slideshows of our children’s play and I can share websites I think may be helpful if they would like more information. I will use the play pedagogy toolkit and Play Types toolkit to enable visual storytelling and add context to images. The tour will be shared with current parents and carers, and prospective new families to aid transition from their early learning settings into our primary school.
Family engagement during the earliest years of a child’s life is one of the most powerful predictors of a child’s development. We will continue to develop our ‘Coorie-in’ Family reading initiative where families participate in our storytelling sessions.
Communication and relationships are a fundamental part of the successful learning which takes place in our Primary 1 classroom. Engaging with parents and carers, daily via a chosen online portal allows us to share the experiences and opportunities children have had during the school day and stimulate conversation at home. My aim this year, is to offer examples play activities and resources which can be used at home by children and their families to extend children’s learning and play experiences and help to highlight to families the importance and purpose of play in practice.
Our aim is to continue to use online platforms to improve our parental engagement by supporting parents and families to interact with their child’s learning through play experiences at home. We plan to develop our use of a virtual classroom to share and support ideas for playing at home.
By engaging parents and families in play activities at home or out and about in the community, we hope each child and their parents or carers are recognised as experts in their own experiences. Building parental confidence around developing playful experiences at home should also help parents to observe significant or ‘wow’ moments in their child’s learning journey and celebrate the role they have played in this.
We understand the need to support parents with their own development of digital skills that will allow them to access a range of online resources (e.g. videos/ links) that will support play at home. Careful consideration will also be placed on developing parents’ knowledge of play types and how to develop playful spaces (environments, experiences and interactions) at home.
Ask Me Stickers
For my professional enquiry project, I have two parts to this. I am keen to focus on engaging families and involving them in the process of learning and sparking conversation of play. I want to link the learning at nursery and at home. In our setting, we have began using ‘Ask Me About’ stickers which the children can show their parents and spark a conversation about their play, interests and learning. I will continue to promote this and also individualise this for the children as well as for generic experiences. I plan to also create a weekly update for my families so that the parents can have insight into their child’s week of play and learning at nursery on Learning Journals. This will link Nursery and home learning. Learning or things going on at home can also be shared so that this can then spark discussions at Nursery to keep the connections going. Alongside this, I am keen to input my passion in Music and Singing and while we can’t sing in the settings currently, I will be sending out weekly videos to put onto our YouTube channel. This will be made up of songs, rhymes and elements from the music and singing group I ran previously in my setting to promote this at home. This will include the benefits and importance and learning of music and singing on child development.
I am planning to implement improved play ideas in home communication with the aim of improving the experiences our young children have at home, with links to school and nursery.
Learning through play is central to life in Primary One. For my Professional enquiry project I have chosen to share the importance of play with families through my use of our online learning platform Seesaw. To do this I will use Seesaw to increase communication with families, with a particular focus on the value of play. At the moment my jobshare partner and I share individual photos each week of the children at play along with a brief description. We will continue to do this but will aim to be more explicit about what each child is learning through his/her play rather than merely providing a brief description. I also intend to use Seesaw to provide short weekly updates where I will describe the adult led learning that has taken place but also tell the families about some of the play I have observed and how that has developed over the week. At all times I am hoping this will be an interactive, two way process where parents/carers can leave feedback, comment on posts and give ideas on what they would like to hear in the weekly updates. I plan to send out a short survey to try and gauge how much importance parents/carers put on play in Primary One and ask for ideas on how best to support their understanding of learning through play in Primary One.
Online Google Classroom
I have been using an online classroom. It is interactive, fun and child friendly. We use it in the classroom first so the children can show their families how to use it. The staff have added avatars of ourselves which the kids love. I have been adding links to songs, stories and games which we are doing in class and I have had feedback that this is sparking a lot of conversations as to what the children have been learning that week. As we all know when most children in early level are asked what have you been doing all day the most common response is, ‘nothing’. I feel the interactive classroom is a really nice way to jog memory by sharing our resources which hopefully families can then share together.