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Hi

 

I am considering giving all our children at preschool a blank book to use as a home-school communication diary type thing.

 

Parents are saying they don't know enough about what their child is learning and how they are progressing - we are finding it difficult to pass on info verbally as end of sessions / changeovers are pretty hectic ...(but thats another thing to sort out) but we do send out termly progress reports and have displays of photos and planning and info on eyfs on show but obviously that is not enough.

 

We have almost 25 children on the books and three staff - so around 8 key children each...and not alot of time to be writing in them when sessions are running.

However I've been inspired by seeing information on 'Learning logs' in primary schools http://www.learninglogs.co.uk/buildinglearningpower.htm

that have taken the place of regular homework..they're very individual, visual and I just want something like that..though not sure if its been done for the 3to 5's range.

 

I am thinking we can write what children are interested in, some ideas for supporting this at home, ask parents to review and comment on occasional learning stories, add some photos and encourage parents to do the same and add some mini fun tasks for children to do at home '?

I dont want to make more work for us (we already keep learning journeys that are full of weekly snapshot obs and photos, evaluations and forward planning...parents are able to ask to see these but none do) ...eventually if the home school books work I can see them becoming the primary 'learning journey' and they will probably open the doors to more verbal communication too (though I do worry about losing any between home and us :o )

 

I just wonder how many of you do daily (or weekly) diaries, what you use (books, single sheets, how big...) what you put in them and how you keep it manageable, how it was introduced to parents..and whether it works!

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We dont do home school books but I do know other settings do them (i dont know how well they work but in theory they seem a good idea).

 

I wonder how long it takes to write a little something in each childs book?

I remember years ago working in care home and having to write a few lines each day for the children in my care at the end of my shift so that it made hand over easier which it did and we only wrote a sentence for each child which was managable but even that takes time approximately 15 mins at the end of shift was spent scibbling something down that was for 8 children I dont know what it would be like if there where more children

 

I would be scared of loosing the books

maybe after each half term file those pages in the childs learning journal so that at least if a book gets lost it will only be a fraction rather than the whole thing

 

the books can also be helpful rather than handing parents news letters they could be stuck into the books so parents dont loose important information dates and events are kept in one place no loosing letters in the bottom of book bags or in the back of the car (how many parents dont see or read news letters!)

 

we have had children who attend other settings and they would bring their home school book for us to see it was very useful to see how children are getting on in other settings

 

in all I think the home-school book ticks several EYFS boxs so it would be worth trying and fine tuning to suit you own needs

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We have done them for many years, and parents love them. Even past parents still come up to me and say how lovely they were. We make a point to try to write in them a minimum of once a week, and ALWAYS reply to a parent's comment - even if it's just "Ooh that sounds exciting - we've been hearing all about it and can't wait to see the photos" type of thing. We write in any WOW moments and stick photos in of constructions or whatever. Ours are only A6 size, but plenty big enough. We use comments that parents write in for our individual planning so it's really useful too. Of course there are parents who don't bother with it - and that's up to them, but at least we know that we are doing our bit!

 

Oh and sometimes parents DO lose them, but as we have made use of the information we wanted from them, and have our own copies of WOW moments and photos then from our point of view, nothing is lost that can't be either replaced or worked onwards from

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We have been using these in our pre-school for about 8 years. We have about 10 parents out of 60 that fill them in at least once a week. Not ideal I know. At the end of the session we have a key person time time when children tell us their news and we write down their favourite activities.When parents tell me that they don't know what there child does all day i use this as my answer.

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Hi

 

We introduced home/pre-school books in the Autumn. We each have 15 keyworking children per member of staff and tend to write in them once or twice a week, but it will be the same few parents who use them on a regular basis, I would say well over half have never ever brought them back in again since they were introduced.

 

On a positive note in general the parents who do use them, do put messages that are of use and can be used for their keyworking folders. Quite often we receive information that we wouldn't have done without the books.

 

Penny

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We started this in September and as others have replied only so many of the parents use them or they get lost. We also do a weekend diary for a group of children per week. This seemed more successful, had more back. However have recently been on a course about My Unique Story a new idea that the lea has thought up. It is an A3 sheet with areas for parents and key people to write in. All 6 areas are represented for practitioners to write in on how the child is doing. This ahas to be done 3 times a year for 3-5 yrs and 6 times for 0-3. Unfortunately we were told this cannot be photocopied as it belongs to the parents and therefore we have to ask permission. They advise you to tell parents about it when doing homevisits, good in theory and we will do this, but we have children arriving throughout the year and will have to continuously repeat the explanation. Not sure how successful this will be but have to give it a try.

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We introduced these in September. The idea and how it would work was introduced to parents before the start of term when we held an EYFS information evening.

 

Out of 60 books we have about 4 who rarely write anything, we have had no books lost (yet!!) and some write far more than others. We were overwhelmed by the positive feedback from parents. We write in them every day and yes it takes time but it is time extremely well spent.

 

The 'tinies' are perhaps unable to verbally express what they have been doing and the older ones often say 'playing' or give little information of what they have enjoyed/done.

 

These are in addition to the children's indiviual learning journeys

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Hi

 

I am considering giving all our children at preschool a blank book to use as a home-school communication diary type thing.

 

Parents are saying they don't know enough about what their child is learning and how they are progressing - we are finding it difficult to pass on info verbally as end of sessions / changeovers are pretty hectic ...(but thats another thing to sort out) but we do send out termly progress reports and have displays of photos and planning and info on eyfs on show but obviously that is not enough.

 

We have almost 25 children on the books and three staff - so around 8 key children each...and not alot of time to be writing in them when sessions are running.

However I've been inspired by seeing information on 'Learning logs' in primary schools http://www.learninglogs.co.uk/buildinglearningpower.htm

that have taken the place of regular homework..they're very individual, visual and I just want something like that..though not sure if its been done for the 3to 5's range.

 

I am thinking we can write what children are interested in, some ideas for supporting this at home, ask parents to review and comment on occasional learning stories, add some photos and encourage parents to do the same and add some mini fun tasks for children to do at home '?

I dont want to make more work for us (we already keep learning journeys that are full of weekly snapshot obs and photos, evaluations and forward planning...parents are able to ask to see these but none do) ...eventually if the home school books work I can see them becoming the primary 'learning journey' and they will probably open the doors to more verbal communication too (though I do worry about losing any between home and us :o )

 

I just wonder how many of you do daily (or weekly) diaries, what you use (books, single sheets, how big...) what you put in them and how you keep it manageable, how it was introduced to parents..and whether it works!

 

We have just started sending little communication/comment books home. We complete a fortnightly individual plan for each based on the current interests of our key children. We attach piece of paper which contains little snipit of Obs.Evaluation from school - Possible activities at home and a section for parents to complete e.g. obs/eval from home - lots work but we have had pos feedback! Hope this helps?

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Hello

 

 

We did do these but found:-

 

Parents forgot them, lost them

parents we did not see often and thought this contact book would be a good way of keeping in touch did not enter anything although we often did

It was time consuming and we did not have enough time to complete 24 of these daily all be a it a few lines we only wrote when some out of the ordinary happened, an achievement or something funny

we now offer them at the start of the year and give parents an option to have one

and none have taken up that offer this year !!!!

 

This is not a reflection on my parents as we have an excellent lot that are mostly very invovled but they do not feel the need for one i guess.

when they collect their children, ther is always an opportunity to talk to staff and key people

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I am thinking of starting this system as I recently sent out questionnaires and parents felt they didn't get enough feedback. they want them to be a daily thing telling them what their child had for snack what/who they played with as well as achievements. with each staff member having 16 key children and possibly up to 10 of them in a session i can't quite see how this can work, i would love to do it though any advice welcome.

 

for what it's worth i think they get a lot of feedback, we display a daily plan and menu telling them what their child can choose to do/eat. we have half termly progress reports that go out to parents, I do termly parent consultations and follow this with feedback questionnaires ,termly parents information evenings on things like EYFS, learning through play, settling in and transitions as well as an open door policy and parent rota oh and weekly newsletters. Not sure how much more I can phsically do!! the comments in the questionnaire were all positive apart from in this area where parents are really keen for more info.

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I think I will try that I just feel bad giving my staff even more work, as a manager I am not keyperson for any of the children as my role is completely office based, so its not something i will be taking on with them if you see what I mean!

maybe I could cover an extra half hour each session ( i already cover half hour so staff get a break during each session as we run 2 a day) that way I would be sharing the extra load with them.

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we split our session into different ages so that all those going to school this september come in the afternoon and all the younger ones in the morning. think about it it is only the younger ones parents that have complained abut a lack of feedback so I think just using these books for them would be a good idea. A lot of the problems seems to be because we don't do topics or set out formal activities in the way the old manager used to parents are worried they are not learning anything, it makes me so mad because most of them send their progress reports back without comment don't come to parents information evenings or consulatations then say we don't tell them anything. We also use home/school news sheets already for WOW moments but again most parents don't fill them in.

 

sorry if I sound so negative I just feel that we do try to involve parents as much as possible but it sometimes feels like banging your head against a wall.

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you're right and I not going to let it. Your advise is always great Cait thank you

 

It's half term and I going to spend some time with my children (still doing paperwork when they're in bed obviously) and worry about work next week, all we can do is our best and having only recently taken over as manager I can't change everything overnight

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Pleased to be able to help. Manager's job certainly isn't fun and it can take over your whole life quite easily. Do your paperwork when they are in bed and have quality time when they're awake.

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that was exactly the problem no time to complete the books,

what do you do with your questionaires? do you give feed back to parents ? if so why not point out all your methods of communication again and put it to them how long it would take to complete and it would take time away from the children.... they might think differently!

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Well it doesn't take us away from the children, at least one member of staff is free during snack time (as we have it all together) and other members are free during story and songtime, usually. If they are 'needed' they can sit on the floor just behind the children's circle. It's just a matter of balance. If we want to jot down a wow moment we find that children like to watch you writing that anyway - children like to see writing taking place, especially if it's good things about them! Sometimes children will bring us their book if they see us writing in someone else's book. They are aware that they are special and whatever goes into them is special too.

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Don't know how I missed this until now. We do use books like those described and our parents really love them. That said not all of them use them. I was worried that the staff would find them onerous to complete and started by using a generic print out of planned activities for groups of children. I printed these out and glued them into the book for the first few weeks, adding other comments as appropriate. This way all parents gto something in the book.

 

Now it has become more of an ongoing conversation with the child and their family, and I encourage my staff to write in the book at least once a week. Like Cait we are often found completing them at the mark making area, for example, with the children, and one or two like to add their own comments in the books. The children really like their books too and I feel this is because their parents read them with them and comment to them on the remarks we have made. For this reason I also use them to reinforce positive behaviour by praising/thanking the child in the book as well as, obviously, verbally.

 

It hasn't been time consuming at all although it was a change when we first introduced them. There are some parents who we would really like to participate who don't, but we always replace the diary if asked to encourage them to take up use of them at any time. At the end of the day it is something you could try and it might work, it might not.

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We stick small photos in too Holly, do you do that? Children sometimes take the pictures themselves and we stick them in there and in their Learning Story with some explanation that the child has given us. I started doing this (children's own photos) a couple of years ago when I was doing mosaic observations for a course with the Open Uni. Prior to that it had just been pictures that staff had taken.

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We tend to keep the photos for their files as I have had a number of diaries go missing and I think some of my parents might be concerned about safety of the name and photos and setting name all in one place! The diaries also go to other settings too if the child does. We have also started to use the children's own pictures as we were given another camera so when they break it it won't matter too much! Their view of the setting is really quite telling!

 

One thing we do is if a child gets a sticker during the session for something positive we stick one into the diary too as they usually loose theirs by the end of the session and this way we can explain to parents why they got it too.

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