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Connecting and Documenting Through a Virtual Platform

By: SAMANTHA HALLOWS

Tuesday 19 May 2020

As I came in from the “Super Shed” after telling a story, I looked around my quiet empty
pre-school room. I thought about all of the time and financial investment that all early years educators put into the materials and resources that they use to provide their quality curriculum. As early years educators we really could do with shelves on our ceilings. I look at my phone and I have been sent a photo from a child that attended my pre-school Giddy-Ups (before COVID-19) and it instantly lifted my spirits. The photo is of a drawing of a butterfly, from the story “The Very Hungry Caterpillar’, which is a story I read during our ‘Super Shed Story Time’, and it’s been done with so much care and attention to detail. I look at the picture and then my empty walls in the pre-school.

The reflection process starts with the procedures needed to raise children’s profiles in the group at this time and to connect children through their artistic learning journeys. I am mindful that a display on walls by the time we return to pre-school may clutter and over stimulate the children as there are many photos of work coming in through the e-mail address. The dilemma is that the display of the children’s work is there for a limited period as new work is done but what happens to the work when it is taken down. Often storage of the children’s work and displaying children’s artwork can be challenging particularly if you have a large group and are sharing with parents so they can support their children’s emergent interests at home.

As a parent myself I remember displaying my children’s drawings and paintings on the fridge and in their bedrooms. After a while, their pictures would become torn and I would save some, but it was just not practical to keep them all. I would love to see some of the work now that is lost as I have four children and my eldest is coming up to his twenty first birthday! As educators we let the children decide what work to send home, put in a scrapbook, and as parents later-on we store our children’s artwork in a memory box, or in other ways!

As early years educators we use reflection as a tool, constantly planning, doing, and then re-viewing the policies and systems that we have in place in our pre-schools. I felt that it was really important to showcase all of the children’s work from the stories. It needed to be documented in a way that it could be shared. So, I decided to set up a “Super Shed Gallery” so as when children were sending in their story requests they could also send in photos of their work. This gallery is a tool to promote creativity, imagination, and conversation at home.

Now the story requests and drawings are coming into the email address ‘supershedstories’, from siblings of the children who are coming to the pre-school (post COVID-19) and children in the local community. This gallery also facilitates the re-connection of the children in the pre-school to each other through their artwork. By working in synergy children, parents and educators can appreciate their child’s work by logging into a virtual gallery. As many of us keep a diary and few families print out photos anymore most photos are stored digitally. The “Super Shed Gallery” is multifaceted as when children return to the pre-school this gallery will have documented the children’s emergent interests in action during this time from the stories. It facilitates reflection on the creative journey that the children had in their homes at this difficult time and could be a starting point for planning the curriculum when the children return to pre-school (hopefully after COVID-19)!

It is also a virtual platform to re-connect children with their friends and connect children that have the same emergent interest from the story requests. It also acts as a platform to raise the well-being of children at this difficult time and promotes parental involvement within the pre-school setting. The Aistear curriculum depicts learning as a “journey”. The gallery is a timely shareable reflection tool, it can be revisited for pleasure or educational curricular planning purposes. Parents are logging onto You Tube and visiting the “Super Shed Gallery” with their children. It is accessible to grandparents and other important people in children’s lives that they are unable to visit as this time. It promotes conversation for children about their friends, teachers, and lots of other things that they may miss about attending pre-school. At this time, I know all educators are supporting children’s well-being and re-connection through the children’s artistic learning journeys, but I just wanted to share the catalyst that storytelling can be in children’s artistic learning journeys.

 

 

Bio:

Samantha Hallows - Hello, my name is Samantha Hallows. I am the owner/manager of Giddy-Ups pre-school. We are based in Knocklyon, Dublin 16 and have been in operation for the last ten years.  I am very worried that at the moment parents and young children may feel a disconnection between them and my pre-school. I spent a long time thinking about what I could do to bridge the gap between pre-school and home during this difficult time. I thought back to the thing that the children love the most in my setting, and that was hearing stories being read in our Super Shed in the garden. I thought about how I could read stories to the children that they would like, I was reflecting in this moment on Aistear and the importance of capturing children’s emergent interests. I thought about all the books I had in my setting, ones that had been read to the children already, some of their favourites and ones that had not yet been read!

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