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Paper or spark?

Balancing Act

Working in a busy nursery environment, everything is driven by priorities.   Imagine the child in the centre of a huge balancing act, where all needs equlibrium to ensure all is in place ‘to get it right’.  First there is record keeping balanced with planning the right learning opportunities.  Then evaluating progress and looking at learning and teaching strategies that needs to be implemented.  We can easily add, extensions of these; do all have equal opportunities, is the family involved, the other provider consulted, training considerations, topics for supervision …. let’s start with the first pair.

spark has been designed to get a balance between the process of noting progress and informing opportunities for learning.  These, guided by the bespoke observational journey are constructed to support staff (regardless of experience and competencies) and parents appropriately, so children are gently encouraged, preferably within a play ethos, to thrive in developing strategies in how to learn, extending their knowledge and skills alongside developmental milestones.

There are two EYFS software options and below is common to both.

spark removes the need to take time out to write long observations which then need to be cross referenced to Areas of Learning, Development Matters Statements (DMS)/Early Years Outcomes (EYO) and Characteristics of Effective Learning (CoEL).

spark facilitates observations ‘on the go’.  They are made quickly, normally onto a tablet, while the educator continues to work alongside the children, just like a piece of paper or notebook on one’s lap.

spark automatically links everything up across the EYFS Areas of Learning and Characteristics of Effective Learning and directs staff immediately to DMS/EYO that the child will probably now achieve, as they have had a selection of great supporting activities (decided by the educator), then recorded formally.

As each point is recorded spark builds upon what the child already knows and assists the adult to scaffold learning forward supported by the child’s unique preferences to discover and learn.

spark releases new ideas for consideration to scaffold learning forward.   These are appropriate but the Key Person, who increasingly is aware, will know which (next step) will be of interest and provide challenge and to motivate to gain a sense of enjoyment and satisfaction.  Alternatively, the adult can draw on their instincts and teaching skills to facilitate ways to provide opportunities for learning through the child’s personal interests, schemas and in ways, they like to learn.

The spark Next Steps planner, ensures staff are focused; to holistically plan and extend skills possibly ‘in the moment’ as the child’s immediate intrigue dictates; extending fascinations.  It encourages them to recognise developmental milestones and introduce new ideas, concepts and throughout this extend vocabulary.  spark supports the educator’s understanding of their key children, enabling them to explain the complexities of what makes each child tick.  By sharing enthusiastic information, this encourages other team members to take note and parents to get involved as their professional confidence increases in ‘getting it right’ proven as their focused efforts are successful.

spark also supports the educator to ensure the environment and activities are provocative and accessed.  As adults led by the child’s needs and interests, they too gain terrific satisfaction, simply recording progress.  Plus, they can quickly track it, evaluate it and subsequently consider reflectively.  Building the learning journey, as they go and without the need to take time out or work home, to re-write, cut out and stick and the observations can, in real time, be shared with parents without the need for senior staff checks.  As staff tune into the child and their learning, photos can be taken, uploaded and inserted quickly and simply; documented chronologically, as supporting evidence for the associated DMS/EYO.

The perpetual circle of events is a continuim and does not need to disturb the flow as staff are continually engaged and tuned in, travelling with each child as they are there, enjoying (not stuck in the office) and taking great satisfaction in seeing children evolve and hopefully become self-motivated, confident learners.

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