An introduction to Mary Evans who wrote to me wanting to help promote our software! She writes…

Ever since my darling son arrived I have felt ever so slightly like I am always playing catch up with him. I constantly have the feeling that I am never quite on top of everything. I am yet to master the art of balancing what has to be done, with the most important job in the world, nurturing my children. This can make life more stressful than it needs to be when I should be enjoying my family. I know very little about this EYFS!

It’s been three years since I first tasted parenthood. Since then we, as a family, have been fortunate to overcome all the usual hurdles; Dad’s return to work, my return to work, Oliver starting nursery and the addition of our precious daughter, Eva. It’s hard to believe we manage to keep up with the ever quickening pace of life, and the feelings of being one step behind have not gone away.

So, like many of my fellow parents I am constantly looking for something to inspire me, give me guidance on age appropriate activities, and tell me what realistic goals are for my children. All this whilst cherishing each small but mighty achievement they make. I wish I could hold on to every little memory I have of all the mighty mountains they have overcome to achieve the abilities they have learnt; finding their hands; putting a spoon down on purpose; the day Oliver recognised his name written down! Of course I have kept the usual record books and I have in excess of a thousand photo’s casually catalogued (which I have nightmares about losing) but none of my efforts capture the children’s journey’s in the gorgeous detail we are experiencing them in.

When SPARK@home fell into my lap, gifted to all parents at my children’s nursery, at first it seemed too good to be true. I want to share with you my experience using this wonderful program, and give you an idea of the part it has played in our family life.

If you don’t know what spark@HOME is I’ll give you a quick rundown. A web based software for parents linked to the Early Years Foundation Stage curriculum.  They system can be used just at home (SPARKparent, I had before Eva began nursery) or linked to your child’s nursery or preschool. Both set out in wonderful detail a child’s learning journey from birth (‘squeezes or shakes toy in imitation’) until your child goes to school. It enables parents and childcare providers to record their child’s achievements either just for their own record, or for the benefit of other caregivers in your child’s life who can see how your little one is developing at home, or vice versa.  We also work together on Eva and Oliver’s next steps.DSC_0117

One of the biggest advantages of the system for me is being able to see what’s the next step for Oliver and Eva. Right now I know that Eva should next be learning her pincer grasp soon, and Oliver could be working on doing up and undoing buttons. These aims are not set by age, but instead by what they have already achieved; what the next natural progression is for them and an individual challenge! Having these learning steps available to me inspires me to work with the children at home and make the most of any opportunity that comes my way to reinforce their thirst to learn. And, once the achievement has been made we can register it.

Despite our catch up chats with the staff at drop off and pick up, and Oliver’s own recount of his day, it’s impossible to grasp everything that has been achieved, or remember to relay everything to the team. I cherish being able to log in and see what Oliver can do now and it has really made me feel a part of his nursery journey.

Then there is Eva who is under one; her achievements are multiple each day and like many working parents I feel I miss too much. So it’s lovely to keep on top of her hard day’s work and I love most of all looking at the photo’s the team at the nursery upload to support the records. We often add some from home too and love looking at the whole record as a family.

There is also a general communication jotter, which enables me to send notes to the nursery about Oliver and Eva, issues we have at home and activities the children have been up to. Now Oliver is older he loves to help me send messages to the team online about his latest trip, or current favorite story. Choosing his favorite photo to add to the memory is his favourite bit! It’s really lovely to have Oliver be a part of it in this way, it is all about him after all!

We can show all of this to our nearest and dearest who unfortunately aren’t local, and should we need in the future to move we can take all this information with us. Having such a detailed report of Oliver and Eva’s progress will make settling them in anywhere else much easier and hopefully smoother.

What else you may ask… Well the final, pretty huge, bonus is that in the end we will be able to download all of this information and be able to show our little one’s the most remarkable baby book!  As this cannot be lost (it’s all securely held online!) my previously mentioned nightmares about losing those treasured memories will hopefully end and I can continue to focus on enjoying our time as a family.