We visited the kindergarten Linnoitus in Hamina to meet early childhood education teacher Arja-Tuulikki Toikka. Arja-Tuulikki told how to do pedagogical documentation and communicate with parents during a busy day and how TinyApp fits in the daily life of the kindergarten.
What are the TOP3 best things about TinyApp from your point of view as an ECEC teacher?
TinyApp is a secure environment which is essential when it comes to pictures of children. I want to do the right thing, and I can do that with TinyApp.
It is terrific that the service includes the learning areas of the curriculum so that I can directly link pictures to them in a simple way.
I also like that the learning areas are available in diagrams per child.
How do you use TinyApp in general?
I mainly use the TinyApp tool for pedagogical documentation and communication with parents. I also write children's individual education plans to the TinyApp.
In your opinion, what are the strengths of TinyApp?
I think TinyApp is good. It is an excellent idea that the service is based on the learning areas and the transversal competences, and they can be linked to the messages. As we started to use the service, the learning areas became much more concrete for the staff. Everyone has to think daily what all activities are about and what do we learn through them. That's where I find it really good - you need to stop and think over the pedagogy.
How do you use the messaging tool?
We send messages and pictures to parents many times a week. I always include the learning areas and competences to which the photos relate. Also, I describe what we did. A good time to send messages is usually around noon when the children are sleeping. Then, it is often the case that parents have already received the message and seen photos when they are picking up their child, and then we speak about our activities. Parents see in the picture how their child's day has been.
In our kindergarten, we encourage paperless communication. So, I send through TinyApp all our newsletters and reminders about ongoing queries, toy days, etc. With TinyApp, I make my daycare activities visible to parents.
How do you document in practice?
We work a lot in small groups. During the week, the program includes a wide variety of small groups: singing groups, math, one-to-one discussions, sessions in pairs, etc. Pedagogical documentation is usually done in groups of three to four children. It also speeds up the documentation process.
What has changed since you took TinyApp in use in your kindergarten?
Before, I printed a lot of pictures and hung them up in the hallway so I could tell parents what we were doing. It consumed a lot of printing colors and was a time-consuming way. In the past, we also had private blogs.
Compared to the old, we can share much more with parents. And when you can trust that the service is secure, you want to share more the day-to-day life of the kindergarten.
Parents are also used to TinyApp messages. Parents inform us about their schedules, child's holidays, illnesses through the mobile app. And actually, parents call to the kindergarten very seldom nowadays. They use TinyApp instead.