Friday, 20 March 2015

The “Fan Out” button and why we love it

It’s almost week 9, I can hardly believe it. My son is at kindy this year and I am really relishing the chance to use KindyPortal as a parent again. It’s just so good to see photos and read about what he’s up to. He comes home so excited, telling me all about what he’s been doing. But sometimes it’s hard to figure out what he’s on about, in all his four-year-old excitement.

“We put a balloon on top and the first one didn’t work but the next one blew up like this! Weeeeeeee!!” - Um, what? Without a bit of a hint I’d have had no idea he was telling me about their yeast experiment, using a balloon to catch the carbon dioxide released by the bubbling sugar, yeast and water mixture. A well-timed article makes it so much easier to make the most of that post-kindy conversation.

And I have to say, as a parent, the photos are definitely the drawcard. I obsessively scan all the group shots for a glimpse of his little face, hoping to see he’s smiling or engaging with a friend. And the best thing is reading a few words about my son in particular - a project he initiated or something clever or funny he said - with related photos of course.

I’ve been chatting at the playground to some of the other kindy mums and the consensus is that we love hearing what the kindy group is up to as a whole but the most special articles to us are, of course, the ones about our own child. It’s hard in those first few weeks to separate from your little one. I think in many cases the parents are more nervous about that first day than the kids. One of the best ways to calm our first-term jitters is a quick sentence or two and a photo of that special smiling face so we know they’re settling in and making friends.

If you’ve been using KindyPortal for a while you might already know about the “Fan Out” button and how to use it. But for those who don’t, here’s how it works.

Say you want to write an individual article for each child in the group - just a quick one to let each parent know that everything’s going well:

  1. Start by creating one new article with all of the student names checked, and the relevant learning outcomes added.
  2. Write the generic information you want to tell everyone, for example “Today we started working with clay. The group as a whole were so excited to get stuck in with different tools, sharing ideas and inspiration.”
  3. Once you’ve finished the text and maybe added a group photo, make sure the article has saved then press the “Fan Out” button. This will create a draft article for each student, with the text and photos you’ve already added.
  4. Now you can go into each article and add an individual photo and perhaps another line or two saying what they created with the clay.
  5. Hey presto, you now have an individualised article about each child and some very happy parents!

Tuesday, 10 February 2015

All about KindyPortal

Hello and welcome to my first ever blog post!

My name is Kate, I'm a web developer and mother of three young 'uns. At the moment I must admit it's my mothering role that's got most of my attention. Two year olds may be cute but oh my gosh they can wear you out. Add in a rambunctious four year old and a seven year old with special needs and yikes, my "me time" is out the window. But today I've been having one of those rare mornings where all of the kids are out of the house at school, kindy and daycare so I can sit down and actually drink my whole cup of coffee - it's these small pleasures that keep me going.

filesBut enough about me. I'd like to tell you about a rather exciting project I've been working on. Some of you may already be using KindyPortal, but for those that aren't, here's a quick run-down of what it's all about.

KindyPortal gives you an online, interactive way to write Kindergarten documentation and collaborate with parents. It's got ePortfolios, parent interaction, curriculum documents, photos, transition statements - you name it, we probably have it. And we're constantly working to add features and make it as easy to use as possible. We love to hear from our users (and anyone who's interested in checking it out) so if you've got a great idea for a new feature, you're not sure how to do something or you just want to say hi, please send us an email or give us a call.

Oh, and did I mention we've also found that it's a fantastic way for Kindergartens to demonstrate to the Office of Early Childhood (for those in Queensland) that they're meeting NQF standards (in particular Quality Areas 1, 4, 5, 6, and 7).

Here at KindyPortal we're big into letting you guys try things out so you can decide for yourself if we have what you need. You can head over to our website and click Start Using KindyPortal for a free, no obligation trial for the rest of this term. Test things out and let us know what you think!

If you'd like some face-to-face training, we've got lots of Information and Training days lined up - take a look at our Information and Training Day schedule for 2015. These sessions include lots of information about what KindyPortal is and how you can use it to take the hassle out of documentation and throughout your NQF journey. There's also specific training for you, our existing customers, to introduce you to some of the more advanced features. At the moment we've got sessions planned in and around Brisbane including Red Hill, Bayside, Ipswich, Gold Coast and North Coast, and one in Townsville too. If you live further afield and you'd like to host a KindyPortal Training Day at your Kindergarten, please let us know and we'll see what we can do.

Well that's all for now. Hope you're off to a flying start this term!