In 2020, a frequent comment from early childhood providers was ‘we will wait until next year to sign up to MOSAIC – we will be closed for part of this year due to the pandemic’. As it turned out, during lockdown and the extended closure of early childhood services, our MOSAIC digital platform outsmarted the restrictions of a pandemic.
This article discusses how digital technology for early education is here to stay.
Educators outsmarting a pandemic
‘Partnership with parents’ is a familiar term to all working within early education and care. In the simplest sense, it means that parents, families, and educators work together for the benefit of children. Central to this partnership is effective communication between all parties involved.
The difficult days for a fledgling Donegal business where the pandemic closed its customer base, was greatly uplifted when the stories of educators communicating with children on their MOSAIC App started to come flooding in.
Stories of dedicated educators sending video messages to children via MOSAIC, singing new songs and rhymes to join in with and setting children creative tasks and things to do. Educators recorded a short video of the pre-school room, to show children that all the toys were eagerly waiting on them to return.
Some educators went so far as to remember each child’s interest and posted something in relation to this through the child’s personal MOSAIC storybook – ‘We know how much you love building things – what don’t you have a go at building us something from things you can find at home and send us a picture’.
Most importantly, these interactions assured children that their pre-school would open soon and everything would be ok. Parents commented that this ‘keeping in touch’ with key people who had been abruptly taken from children’s daily routine was invaluable.
Tips and activities sent through MOSAIC helped parents to continue to support their child’s learning interests and keep them busy! Parents were also impressed by how well educators were tuned into their child and knew them so well.
A new normal: the use of digital technology in practice to support parental engagement
Once services reopened, the face-to-face interactions with parents were disrupted greatly. Many early childhood services and parents feel frustrated by the restrictions imposed on face-to-face interactions and sought new ways of addressing the problem.
Digital technology like MOSAIC plays a huge part in creating the ‘new normal’. Introducing a digital documentation system for children’s learning goes far beyond simply reducing paperwork or saving money and time.
The fluid and real time communication that a digital system like MOSAIC can offer – goes to the very core of effective parental engagement. This in turn mitigates some of the barriers to providing quality early learning and care.
So what does all this tell us?
So why should digital technology like MOSAIC be maintained beyond the pandemic?
Clearly, MOSAIC can transform the experience of educators, children and parents. For educators, confidence to use new skills and embrace digital technology is worthy of recognition. The use of MOSAIC during the pandemic helped fill the gap left by the absence of face-to-face communications and allowed educators to be responsive to children. Digital technology suddenly became a powerful tool in enabling real-time parental engagement and communication with children.
Whilst the static scrapbooks and learning journals left gathering dust in the closed childcare service, digital technology was keeping children and parents engaged. The presence of a familiar friendly face cannot be underestimated at a time when human interaction was limited to four walls.
I have no doubt that MOSAIC played such a huge part in mitigating the impact of the pandemic on some children’s lives.
Beyond the pandemic
Digital technologies are not a replacement for the strong interactions that early childhood practice is founded on – they are merely an extension of quality led practice. The pandemic exposed outdated ways of working as less efficient and inflexible when change was required. Our continued openness to engage with digital solutions in early education will transform the way we communicate and engage with parents now and into the future. The opportunities to outsmart even a pandemic are endless.
MOSAIC is an innovative electronic storybook framed around the Aistear curriculum used by educators to record, support and enhance children’s learning, development and care and communicate with parents through updates, photographs and videos in real time. See www.mosaic elc.ie for more.
Avril McMonagle is the founder and CEO of MOSAIC Digital Solutions for Early Education [email protected]