The Power of a Picture
8/4/2021 | Sasha Kopp
The pandemic has required centers and families to adjust to in ways they haven’t experienced before. One of the most significant examples is at many centers, parents do not, or have just started to regain physical access to the school’s inside. How have educators and directors adapted to keep families in the loop, when those check-in and check-out conversations in the classroom have paused? With picture and video sharing.
Day-in and day-out, early childhood educators share pictures of what is happening in the classroom with parents and family members who eagerly await the opportunity to get a sneak peek into a child’s daily experience. Each time an educator shares a picture, they create an opportunity to deepen the relationship with a child’s family. By sending photos in the Playground app, teachers can continue to build relationships with families through establishing trust, sharing the classroom’s values, and teaching families about child development.
Trust is established and reinforced through consistent communication, which must be reliable and in line with the expectations set at the beginning of the year. Parents who are new to a program do not know what to expect when sending their child to school for the first time. It’s up to teachers and administrators to set clear expectations for the frequency of communication and what that communication will look like. Through photos, parents can see that their child’s experiences meet, and exceed, their own educational expectations while aligning with teacher feedback. This is also a chance for families to bond over those experiences. Using the time spent looking at the pictures and videos as a way to support conversations and experiences at home that align with those at school.
Without a base level of trust, it can be very challenging to have meaningful conversations with families. As trust is built, both teachers and families can stay on the same page by reinforcing that everyone has the best interest of the child in mind. Over time and through consistent communication, teachers and parents are better able to engage in an open dialogue about a child’s behavior and development.
Sharing the Classroom’s Values:
Taking and sharing pictures provides insight to families about values that are shared by a teacher, a school, and a community. They enable parents to see how educators focus on the learning process and outcomes, E.g., sharing through the display of pictures during the art process and through to the final product. How a picture is captioned also can give a parent insight into what the teacher is noticing at the particular moment where a child is engaging in an activity. A child engaged in painting could be working on fine motor, social skills, color mixing, focusing, representational drawing and so much more – however, the parent may only know about whatever the educators choose to highlight.
When families see photos, they have the opportunity to notice something new or have insight into how their child’s educators cultivate learning and explorations in the classroom. Families might have new insights into their child, his or her learning, and their school experience through learning about classroom values, experiences, and opportunities to explore further with each captured moment.
Teaching Families about Child Development
Families know their child; however, they may not know what is developmentally appropriate for children their own child’s age. Educators have the unique opportunity of knowing a classroom of children, some with many years of classroom experience, with children who are often in the same development range. They bring with them a depth and breadth of experience and knowledge that parents may not have when it comes to norms, expectations, and deviations from typical child development. A child who might be reading at a young age might not have strong gross motor skills or social skills, but differences are natural and should be celebrated.
Through photo captions, teachers can share how children learn, and how parents can continue fostering that learning at home. They might share ways of learning that parents might not even know about, such as clay, manipulatives, and activities that support the development of fine motor skills! These little insights are not a full parenting course; however, they allow parents to learn about their child and their development through their child’s learning experiences. By celebrating and supporting children’s development, parents and caregivers can partner with teachers about best practices about how to foster growth, including all of his or her strengths as well as areas that may need extra support. By learning new ways to foster development, parents can feel empowered to support and encourage that development at home and school.
Pictures have power. They can help parents, caregivers, and relatives feel connected when they are not in the classroom with their children. Pictures provide insight into the experiences and learning opportunities. Through sharing photos in the Playground app, teachers can help enrich the experience of children and their families. These shared experiences are a strong tool to help establish trust, share values and share insights with families. There is so much to learn and share about what is happening in a classroom - grab a camera and start capturing those teachable moments!
Playground makes it easy for teachers and families to share photos and videos as part of Activities that show up on the family timeline and one-on-one private messages through Communication. Visit either of these links to learn more and schedule a free 15-minute demo available anytime.
Sasha Kopp is a community early childhood and family engagement consultant for The Jewish Education Project and an adjunct professor at American Jewish University. Sasha has worked in a variety of teaching and administrative roles in early childhood programs in Boston, Los Angeles, and New York. You can connect with Sasha through her website at sashakopp.com or through Twitter @SashaKopp.