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Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

  • 1.  Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 09-30-2017 08:16 AM
    Hello colleagues!

    I'm working on one of my routine scans of early care and education software products, especially those that focus on family engagement and communication. I'm eager to learn what products you all use.

    I have compiled a very comprehensive list of products specifically for early education, but I want to hear from users about what you use and like. If you like or hate the software you use, I want to hear about it! Any products that help you improve your work with families and children or help you be more efficient and productive are of interest.

    It would be very interesting to hear about experiences with Google or open-source products.

    Thanks for your input.

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------


  • 2.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-01-2017 08:02 AM
    Interesting question.  In my old school located overseas we used plain old email.  SOme teachers then added "Webly"  sites which I believe are free to set up , and sent out their newsletters with that program.  Most of the teachers seemed to like it and were positive about the amount of photos they could send out to the parents.

    At my new school this year, I have heard about Tadpole (which one teacher said she used while working at the YMCA)  but when I read some online reviews of that program it sounds like it has a lot of glitches.    So we may try Webly again.

    My son's school (he is in 7th grade)  uses Power School (apparently just for grades, we do not get photos ) and the PTA at his school uses "Classroom Parent"  for notices, emails, reminders about bakesales and then uses "Sign up Genius"  for things that need sign ups!

    Erica
    Baltimore, MD

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    Erica Meadows
    Loyola Early Learning Center
    Baltimore MD
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  • 3.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-16-2017 08:03 PM
    Thanks for the feedback! Good leads.

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------



  • 4.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-01-2017 08:17 AM
    I use Blogger and post 3-5 times per week, with lots and lots of photos. Each child also has their own portfolio, and I'm just switching these over to gooogle sites to be in line with the rest of our lower school (this one I'm not sure about yet). Also use regular group emails and, of course, informal conversations with family during drop off and pick up.

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    Carol Wolf
    Abington Friends School
    Jenkintown PA
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  • 5.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-16-2017 08:05 PM
    Great use of a blogging platform. Yes, let's not let technology replace personal conversation! Let us know about your Google experience!

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------



  • 6.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-02-2017 07:11 AM
    Fran, thanks for this great question. Several PreK teachers in Maine I know have enjoyed using SeeSaw to create digital portfolios and communicate with families. Other teachers have been using Facebook or Remind to connect with families. There was a previous discussion on NAEYC Hello of some additional systems, that evolved from conversations related to family conferences and technology use.

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    Bonnie Blagojevic
    Morningtown Consulting
    Orono ME
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  • 7.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-03-2017 06:51 AM
    This is actually a question that keeps popping up: How to communicate effectively, efficiently, and if necessary quickly with families?  We use Yahoo Groups to post information to the whole school.  It is just like sending an email; only those who have been approved can join the group.  I use it for announcements, reminders, clarifying information that the whole school would need, but there are no sub-groups so I have to setup email groups for each classroom.

    Question: Have you explored software for communicating emergency information to families?

    Thanks!
    Michele

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    Michele Liberty
    Preschool Director
    Mount Olivet Preschool
    Arlington VA
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  • 8.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-16-2017 08:21 PM
    Hi Michele:

    I can always count on my ECE colleagues to be resourceful with great tools! I have limited experience with "stand-alone" emergency communication tools like SchoolMessenger. I have discovered that many of the family communication systems developed just for Early Education include emergency communications. I see a trend away from single stand alone applications and movement toward applications that include everything from portfolios, video sharing, text, assessment, observations and emergency alerts.  Thanks for responding.

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------



  • 9.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-16-2017 08:07 PM
    Thanks, Bonnie! I forgot about Remind. I hadn't heard of SeeSaw until earlier today. Leave it to you to know what's going on! If you find the other thread, please let me know.

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------



  • 10.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-03-2017 10:17 AM
    ​We used HiMama last year.  It was a great tool  You may want to check them out.  It was a little pricey.  We are currently using a new app called REMINI.  We are working on making improvements to this one.

    ------------------------------
    Aileen Friedman
    Director
    Oheb Shalom's Learning Ladder
    Baltimore MD
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  • 11.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-16-2017 08:08 PM
    Aileen: Thanks for the response. Why did you switch to Remni and what improvements is your program making to it?

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------



  • 12.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-03-2017 04:45 PM
    We have been using Storypark for the last three years, and it is the most comprehensive and easy to use program I found (I looked and tried lots before deciding).  The site storypark.com offers a free trial for anyone wanting to test it.  We are able to publish stories with photos and videos for families, who are also able to post their own photos and stories from home.  The parents have full ownership of all of the  posts, and even after their child leaves they can keep using it as a family diary.  Parents can invite any of their family members to view and have access to the posts of their child.  We post stories and then anyone who the parent decides can view it and comment, this leads us to receiving feedback not just from immediate family, but also grandparents, some who live the other side of the world.  You can label each post with tags that you create to help you search, and use relevant ones in teacher/parent conferences.
    The administrator can make it so all teachers stories get approval first by admin (handy to check what is sent before parents read it), and it has planning features for teachers to use to communicate among themselves.  There are many more useful features such as planning and whole school communications.  Parents can also post to the school community if they have something they want to share. We have had nothing but excellent feedback from all of our parents and their relatives who all get to feel a little closer to the school because of it.

    ------------------------------
    Michael Knuckey
    Children's House Preschool
    Boulder CO
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  • 13.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-04-2017 06:35 AM
    Michael-interesting to hear that StoryPark allows families to post photos as well. Can they post video? Is there translation support for posts? Some of the preschool teachers I am working with in Maine have used and really like SeeSaw for communication, and as a digital portfolio (they are using the free version) but at this time, the option for replies from home are text or audio.

    Fran, will you be publishing the list you mentioned?

    In addition to hearing about the different systems people are using, also appreciating learning more about the types of features you all are finding very useful, and how you are using it, to better understand what is possible with the different choices. Thanks everyone!

    ------------------------------
    Bonnie Blagojevic
    Morningtown Consulting
    Orono ME
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  • 14.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-05-2017 11:11 AM
    Yes, families can share photos, videos, stories and general comments.  It is also very helpful if you have children who work with outside therapists as the therapist (with parent approval) can also add stories and photos from exercises they may be doing outside of the school.  I don't think there is any translation services offered through the site.

    ------------------------------
    Michael Knuckey
    Children''''s House Preschool
    Boulder CO
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  • 15.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-06-2017 09:19 AM
    Thanks for sharing these resources. Has anyone used Kaymbu? We had a demo when it first came out but didn't move forward with it. Recently I have heard that the site has made a lot of improvements and has features that work for parents as well as teachers and administrators. I'm wondering if anyone has compared Storypark, Tadpole and Kaymbu with each other? Best, Tamara

    ------------------------------
    Tamara Rowe
    Assistant Director
    Rockefeller University
    Child and Family Center
    New York NY
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  • 16.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-07-2017 08:32 AM
    Our teachers use Shutterfly for calendar items, parent access to photos and email reminders.  It is free for teachers and by invitation only for parents.

    ------------------------------
    Susan Horton
    Director
    New Covenant Preschool
    Winter Springs FL
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  • 17.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-16-2017 08:22 PM
    Wow! Shutterfly! Who knew? Great info. Thanks!

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------



  • 18.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-11-2017 05:56 AM
    Michael- thank you for this additional explanation about what they provide. Nice suggestion- about showing/sharing what outside therapists are doing so everyone can know about exercises that support the child. Interesting!

    ------------------------------
    Bonnie Blagojevic
    Morningtown Consulting
    Orono ME
    ------------------------------



  • 19.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-16-2017 08:24 PM
    Hi Michael:

    StoryPark was at the top of my list. It;s good to hear a testimonial from a long time user. Thanks for the info!

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------



  • 20.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-07-2017 10:32 PM
    We have a Shutterfly site with a calendar, forms for children and parents, and so on. Each classroom has the Homeroom app. You can post photos, videos, and notes. I like it because I can post notes and reminders for our classroom, and I can post videos. I couldn't do that with Shutterfly.

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    Catherine Roach
    Milwaukee WI
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  • 21.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-08-2017 12:02 PM
    I use Seesaw for digital portfolios and parent communication. I love it, although I have some families without the means to check this (no wifi/smart phone) so it isn't my one and only method of communication. For families that are connected and engaged through seesaw, I send home newsletters and notes that way, and for others they go in the back pack or I call the family - its all about meeting the needs of the family!

    ------------------------------
    Chelsea Schulte
    KSAEYC
    ECSE Teacher
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  • 22.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-11-2017 06:02 AM
    Chelsea- I am really glad you brought up the issue of access, as I was planning to ask others in the group what were some of the ways they were making sure all could be involved/participate.  How is everyone making this work (no matter what system) where access to tech is an issue?

    It sounds like you are providing print alternatives for notices.Do you have any parent meetings/other times where families could see some of the photos/video from their child's digital portfolio entries?

    Thank you for bringing this up!

    ------------------------------
    Bonnie Blagojevic
    Morningtown Consulting
    Orono ME
    ------------------------------



  • 23.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-12-2017 10:19 PM
    Bonnie - I have parent conferences twice a year. For families that are not connected to their child's seesaw portfolio, I print out a PDF version of it for the family to take with them. When I have an abundance of time (which is about never, I'm a teacher), I send home the PDF ahead of time so the parent can look through it and we can spend our time together engaged in meaningful conversation.

    ------------------------------
    Chelsea Schulte
    KSAEYC
    ECSE Teacher
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  • 24.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-16-2017 08:29 PM
    Great way to bridge the access gap.

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------



  • 25.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-18-2017 06:35 AM
    Chelsea, thank you for this suggestion regarding ways to provide access to SeeSaw portfolio entries for families without Internet or with limited data plan.

    I heard another suggestion recently, to ask families without internet if they have a relative or somewhere else they use the Internet, as that is sometimes the case.

    Interested in all solutions people are using to help families solve access challenges- thanks for sharing!

    ------------------------------
    Bonnie Blagojevic
    Morningtown Consulting
    Orono ME
    ------------------------------



  • 26.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-16-2017 08:27 PM
    You got that right! We have to meet parents where they are! Thanks for the info! Seesaw is new on my list.

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------



  • 27.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-09-2017 10:07 PM
    Hello Friends🙋
    In our center, we use REMIND app. We can send group announcements. Pictures. Individual messages. Parents have choice to receive messages through text, app, or email. Even if they text, they do not have access to your personal phone number. Parents love that they can contact us at any time, especially if child (or parent,lol) is going through separation anxiety and they just want to check in.

    ------------------------------
    Cindy Parreño-Benitez
    Assistant Teacher
    LaGuardia Community College - Early Childhood Learning Center Programs, Inc.
    Long Is City NY
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  • 28.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-14-2017 11:02 AM
    I teach parent education and would recommend REMIND as well. I can send individual messages or group messages, as well as links and articles that support our learning in class. It has a voice message feature and we can share photos on the app too. Easy, handy and engaging.

    ------------------------------
    Katy Smith
    Licensed Parent Educator
    2012 MN Teacher of the Year
    Winona MN
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  • 29.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-16-2017 08:33 PM
    I like the addition of the voice messages. Thanks. I will check out REMIND.

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------



  • 30.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-16-2017 08:32 PM
    It looks like Remind is popular. Thanks for the feedback.

    ------------------------------
    Fran Simon, M.Ed.
    Engagement Strategies, LLC
    Early Childhood Investigations Webinars
    Early Childhood Investigations Consultants Directory
    Washington, DC Metro
    ------------------------------



  • 31.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-18-2017 08:04 AM
    Bloomz!!  LOVE IT and it's FREE!  https://www.bloomz.net/ Check it out!!

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    Sunshine
    Morro Bay CA
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  • 32.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-18-2017 09:03 AM
    We use Bright Wheels to communicate with families.  Our staff use it to document children's growth, daily report, incidents, check in and out.  The parent downloads the app and can see what is going on with their child during the day.  It will do much more, but there is a fee.  We use the free part.  It has been a real game changer for us!  Our families love it!  https://mybrightwheel.com/features/

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    Norma Honeycutt
    Partners In Learning
    Salisbury NC
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  • 33.  RE: Tell me about what you use for family communications and cngagement software and apps

    Posted 10-19-2017 12:30 AM
    We use an app called tadpoles.  It is a fantastic way to send group emails, send photos to parents, send newsletters etc. We also use it daily to keep an ongoing attendance for signing in and out children. It has their photos with their name and you tap it to sign the child in or out. It keeps a constant count of who is on and out at all times. Tracks hours for staff and children for daily, weekly and monthly tallies. Parents love to get photos throughout the day of their children involved with various activities. Easy communication tool.

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    Jody Anderson
    Eduacational Assistant/ Librarian and Early Childhood educator for an out of school care program.
    Jasper AB
    ------------------------------