Journey Home Learning Program
Journey Home Learning Program
Written by Carolyn Smart, Journey Early Learning Quality and Compliance Manager
At Journey, above all else we value Communication, Connection and Consideration and cohesively, these three values shaped how our Journey Home Learning Program was developed and delivered.
As the true ramifications of COVID-19 started to unfold, communication between myself, team members and families amounted to one common question – how can we support families and children during their time at home, whilst maintaining that vital human connection everyone craved during isolation?
To be quite frank, in the beginning we didn’t have a game plan. We had a concept (that was the Journey Home Learning Program), and each part of the program evolved from a previous idea that was shared by the services, families, children and educators. The Centre Leadership Team (CLT – comprised of the Centre Manager, Assistant Centre Manager, Educational Leader and Kindergarten Teacher) at each service was instrumental in driving the program, how it looked and how it evolved over time. I think one of the most important roles each CLT played was advocating for their families and team members, and ensuring their voices were heard during the development and implementation phases of the program.
The first stage occurred very early on and consisted of developing the Journey Home Learning Resource Book. This book was a compilation of a variety of different experiences developed by our educators across all Journey services. The aim was to provide families with a book of educational activities they could participate in at home, using household items that were readily accessible. The most incredible part of this stage was that we were able to put this entire resource book together in just two weeks – it was a complete team effort to bring it together. Once completed, families were given access to a digital copy of the book.
The next stage was to develop a video library for each Journey service that parents could access via Storypark. The videos consisted of educators across multiple age groups and classrooms reading stories, singing songs, teaching yoga and much more. We knew it was going to be vitally important for children to see their educators on a regular basis so they could remain connected. When the time came to return back to the service, we wanted to ensure children and families could easily transition back into their rooms, without feeling like they had been completely disconnected. Of course, being in front of the camera isn’t everyone’s idea of fun, but as time went on, we could see educator confidence growing and by the end, we had an amazing suite of videos to share with families.
The next logical step was to bring both pieces of work together and develop a template on Storypark that we could share with families (this was the foundation for creating the Journey Home Learning Plan). The plan consisted of one morning and one afternoon experience (taken from the Resource Book), and one group time video. During such a stressful time, we were mindful of our families and wanted to ensure that the plan wasn’t overwhelming to implement. We needed to reassure parents that the plan was an optional resource they could tap into as little or as much as they wanted.
Classroom educators regularly checked in with families via Storypark, email and phone to ensure the plans were understood and adjusted if and when needed. We knew families were enjoying Journey Home Learning, as they engaged with us on multiple levels. We’d received videos, photos, emails, comments and calls from families of their children engaging in experiences from the program.
The realisation set in that this may be more of a long-term situation than what we first thought, so we began to reflect on what we were offering our families and whether or not it was achieving its desired outcome. We had an overwhelming amount of feedback coming through in regard to the children paying special attention to the videos. Armed with that information, we implemented the final stage of the Journey Home Learning Program – online sessions. The online sessions provided all children the opportunity to connect with each other, regardless of whether they were at home or at the service and participate in shared experiences again.
Looking forward into the “new normal”, many elements of the Journey Home Learning Program will remain. The Resource Book, video library and online classes have all become vital resources that we’re able to continue improving and implementing moving forward. As Journey team members, we have all learnt a great deal during this process. We have been forced to step away from how we have always done things and challenge ourselves to be innovative and think outside the square, placing families and children firmly at the centre of what we do and how we do it. Every decision was, and always will be made with our families in mind.
The Journey Home Learning Program has presented many opportunities to build stronger relationships with families and has shown us endless possibilities of how we can continue to communicate and connect with each other, our families and our children.
For more information regarding our Journey Home Learning Program, please click here.