Tag: Schema

Why wholly paper based documentation systems are just too hard!

Drowning in EYLF paperwork

Less time but more to do!

Today with rising professional education standards, increasing regulation and expectations from parents, early childhood education has significantly changed.  For the most part educators have carried the burden of producing more work with very often less time and are adapting to the increasing pressure by implementing methods that streamline repetitive, duplicating or arduous tasks. More recently, many early childhood educators are taking streamlining processes to the digital arena, developing systems and adapting new methods in communication, like LIFT, Facebook and Google tools to further simplify the growing demand on their diminishing time. 

So what is required of early childhood educators and why would a teacher want to use digital tools to simply this process. 



Just the tracking tools alone in paper based systems can make you groan!

Educators have to observe all children, (and document these observations), identify and evaluate learning both developmentally and against approved curriculum criteria (EYLF outcomes), extend upon that learning, link that learning to future programs (and be able to show that link).  Educators have to document what experiences they have offered, have documentation readily available for families and regulators, and reflect on their practice both qualitatively and quantitatively against approved curriculum (EYLF teaching principles and practices).  How does an educator do this with a paper based system?  Arguably they don't really ever document all of these requirements or even if they do make a noble attempt to try, they spend significantly more time than is available to do administrative tasks.  Take a look at some links to some recent paper based examples of documentation systems.  Many are painfully repetitive or don't meet all of the requirements. 

It is clear that none of these provide a solution that meets all requirements and all require unnecessary duplication and are very difficult to cross reference ‘tracking’ of tools used and work done.

Databases can organise the complex documentation required for early childhood educators into searchable, reportable systems with easily created and track-able links between key tasks such as the link between observations - to "followed up" activities - parent involvement - to new observation.  LIFT provides a comprehensive documentation solution for educators to share, easily link and show links to plans and curriculum criteria and principles.  Other helpful tools we recommend to further extend and connect teachers and families are: 

  • Google Documents (great way to create free shared documents & surveys)
  • Facebook - create an open public page and private community pages where you can share so much information with families in a way that is effective and engaging

Paper based systems tie down managers

Even if individual teachers can navigate paper-based systems, how do managers of educators easily supervise and audit without overly administrative double handling and checking?  In my opinion you just can't.  Too often I have heard horror stories of fantastic services failing validation because of one individual falling behind on their documentation.  Early childhood managers are also time poor, particularly at present when the early childhood industry is going through radical reform and re-regulation, and need to find easier ways to connect, sample, supervise and review.  Electronic tools can make reporting, sampling and general supervision of the program far more streamlined and free up managers time to spend more time building, training and supporting their teams. 



Job flexibility is hard outside of secure online tools - It's heavy and full of risk to take your paperwork home! 

It is just too difficult with paper based systems that make it impossible for families and staff to access and/or review children's files outside of the physical service or at a time more suitable to them.  Removing a child's ONLY record from a service could be disastrous if those records are lost, damaged or not transported securely. The only way around this is duplication or at least photocopying which is also nevertheless time draining.  Online tools like LIFT completely remove these barriers, allowing staff to work more flexible hours, at home and for parents to access their children's information at any time that works for them!

Communicate at a time that suits you!


And what about sharing of information?  How can teachers collaborate ideas and work effectively with parents, when communication is strained by time, family and work pressures also.  Drop off and pick up time is always strained, even on the best of days with many families vying for educators' time. Educators and families need to find ways to communicate outside of these peak demand times, at a time that suits them, but facilitating this communication is extremely difficult using paper based systems as basic information about the day needs to be duplicated for each family.  
Technology opens opportunities to extend collaboration in ways never dreamed of possible using paper based systems

The opportunities to share and collaborate amongst the wider community of educators are greatly improved by online tools.  For example, LIFT has a growing database of thousands of ideas which educators are collaboratively building on a day by day basis.  Online tools like LIFT make sharing easy and break down barriers between educators such as distance and field of teaching (preschool, family day care, long day care etc.).



With increasing pressures to do more with less, educators need to find ways to remove duplication, easily show linkages and connect better with families.  Stop lugging those folders around, work and communicate at a time that suits your busy lives by adapting and implementing some of the many new electronic tools available.  
Like to find out more about LIFT?  Sign up for a free 30 day trial today.

Schemas: Learning through play and leveraging child interests in teaching

"A schema is a pattern that a child loves to repeat in their play" (Harper, 2008).  

The concept of schemas in early childhood originated from  psychologist Jean Piaget who theorised that schemas are cognitive 
frameworks or concepts that help people organize and interpret information.  Piaget discovered that working with schemas helps us build learning around children's understanding of their world, effectively scaffolding upon previous learning to expand children's concepts and ideas.  While there is some complex theory behind the idea of schemas and how to use them in early childhood, modern educators are including this important observation technique further into their practice, to really identify where children's learning interests lie and provide better opportunities to engage and enhance children's learning.  Susan Harper (2008) outlines in her wonderful blog how to observed child's individual schema:

- schema's repeat;

- children seem fascinated, engaged and passionate about learning;

- children appear in their 'zone' or 'flow' when using their schema.

There are an array of schema notes provided on the internet, but we found one particularly good reference in New Zealand at http://www.dorsetforyou.com/357248.  This document provides a summary of easily identified schema in early childhood and some activities/experiences that can be planned to include a child's indidvidual disposition for that schema including:

- Transporting (moving things) through shopping, trolleys, carts etc. 

- Enveloping (covering, surrounding) - dens, things in boxes, dressing up etc.

- Rotation (circles) - circle games, roundabouts, spinning tops and kaleidoscopes etc.

- Trajectory (straight lines) - throwing, woodwork, playing with running water etc.

- Connection (joining) - train track, construction, sticking etc.

Harper suggests that educators use children's schema to consolidate learning and promote friendships (bonding with other children with shared interests).

Harper, S. (October 2008) retrieved 28 June 2011 from http://susan.sean.geek.nz/2008/10/my-introduction-to-schemas-in-early.html
Early Years Childcare Blog (posted by Marklim, Schemas – How To Understand And Extend Children’s Behaviour 11 December 2009) retrieved 28 June 2011 from http://earlychildcare.wordpress.com/2009/12/11/schemas-how-to-understand-and-extend-childrens-behaviour/
Dorset City Council (n.d.) Schemas retrieved 28 June 2011 from http://www.dorsetforyou.com/357248
Wikipedia (n.d.) Schemas psycology retrieved 28 June 2011 from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schema_(psychology)
Kendra Cherry (n.d) " An Overview of Early Childhood Development" retrieved retrieved 28 June 2011 from http://psychology.about.com/od/developmentalpsychology/ss/early-childhood-development_3.htm