Using social media to promote high quality after school care

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Social media has quickly become the way that people communicate with each other. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, and other websites like these have become common place for young people and adults alike and have replaced the practice of calling, texting, and writing letters to peers. In an effort to utilize current technology to engage families, teachers needs to research appropriate ways of “getting their message out” using social media sites.  In carefully looking for ways to share calendar dates, important information concerning the school and classrooms, and curriculum guides, teachers must be aware of the pros and cons of each media site in order to find one that will best meet their needs.

In looking at social media sites that will help raise awareness for the importance of high quality early childhood education and after school care for my Pre-K program, I looked at Facebook and YouTube.  These two sites were chosen primarily because they allow me to minimize public viewing with privacy settings so I can protect my students, their families, and myself from unwanted visitors to my pages.  Facebook is a good fit for promoting Union City Elementary School Pre-K after school care to students, families, teachers and administration because I can post important parent information about registration, rules and consequences, days and hours of operation, curriculum information, and pictures of daily activities.  Parents can comment or ask questions as needed either on the news feed or send a private message to me as the director.  Facebook also will share our address and phone number to others needing information about our after school program.  Each week I will post a list of our daily activities and learning goals and follow up with photos of the children engaged in fun small and large group activities.   YouTube is another great media site that I will use to promote a connection between school and home.  Videos of me sharing important announcements,  small and large cooperative group projects, children reading, and creating special messages for parents and families are a few of the ways UCES Pre-K after school care can be used.  Also I can subscribe to other channels that provide educational videos that parents can use at home to assist their child with readiness skills, such as saying the alphabet, counting, and learning nursery rhymes.

In communicating with families through social media sites, it is important to consider the possible benefits or challenges  that may come up.  With any type of social media,  major obstacles are parent access to the internet and privacy issues concerning children. Facebook is a versatile way to publish information, photos, calendar dates,  and announcements easily and make it convenient for parents to see quickly.  The downside of Facebook is that if a parent shares a photo or comments on a post, it is then posted on their wall and visible for all their friends to see and this will allow information about our program and students  to be less secure.  I hope to alleviate some of these problems by sharing with parents the need for privacy and discouraging sharing of Pre-K after school information with their friends.    Similarly, You Tube is a great site for sharing videos with families of classroom activities and allowing students to present cooperative group learning.  Another benefit is that students can save their videos and watch them over an extended period of time.  One negative impact of YouTube is the unlimited access students would have to other videos posted that would be inappropriate for them to view.  Again, by using YouTube, it is important that parents understand exactly how I will use this social media and what the dangers are when their children use it at home. Social media has become the major form of communication between adults and youth alike so it is important for teachers and schools to become proactive in using technology effectively.  When using social media, there are many concerns with posting children and their activities.  By making sure to provide appropriate family education and attention to privacy, Facebook and YouTube can share exciting learning activities and important information with parents in an engaging manner quickly.

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19 thoughts on “Using social media to promote high quality after school care

  1. Kimberly,

    I completely agree with the privacy issues when using social media tools. Our district requires parental permission to allow us to post anything on the Internet; additionally, we are required to receive permission to take photos and videotape, even if the intention doesn’t involve social media at all. Also, our district has a firewall on our system where social media sites are blocked. Therefore, creating a Facebook page for professional use is difficult, as all contact must be conducted after school hours. However, it’s interesting that our district actually has their own Facebook page, but they discourage us to have our own.

    • My school system is the same way. Social media is blocked by our server so my updates must be done on my phone or my laptop at home. This does limit my ability to interact with parents during the day, but I am also available via phone, text, or e-mail so I feel like communication is still adequate. I understand the need for protecting the students against using social media at school, but teachers need to be able to have alternate avenues of posting. I have begun using TeacherTube, rather than YouTube, when I am at school and it would be nice if Facebook had a similar site.

  2. Kimberly,
    You shared several interesting ideas that I had not considered using on YouTube. I like the idea of “sharing important announcements, small and large cooperative group projects, children reading, and creating special messages for parents and families”. This gives the community a peek into the early childhood classroom experience and allows multiple audiences to participate. This would encourage the children to become actively involved in promoting their own afterschool care. It would also be an asset for parents to see what the children are learning in afterschool care and its positive effects. I also liked the idea of subscribing to other channels that provide educational information for families of young children. Your examples of readiness skills, alphabet, counting, and nursery rhymes are all age appropriate and would benefit families of young children.
    Cynthia Thralls

  3. As a working parent, I would have loved to have been able to watch activities and projects that my children participated in while I was away. I believe that it builds a basis for shared experiences and parent engagement. I have also considered video taping my class singing certain favorite songs that could be shared with the parents. So many people believe that we just “play and serve cookies” in Pre-K so sharing our daily activities with the parents and families can demonstrate how important high quality early childhood education is to building a solid foundation for children.

    • Kimberly,
      I agree that a sneak peek into the classroom might help dispel some of the myths about how the day is spent. Parents enjoy seeing their children in the spotlight. This could be singing, answering questions about lessons taught, or sharing the best part of their day. It could encourage more parental involvement, if the parents felt comfortable with the daily activities they see. I would also like to use the videos to encourage collaboration discussions about developmentally appropriate practice in pre-K classes. Thank you for sharing your insight.
      Cynthia Thralls

  4. Kimberly,
    I am so happy you brought up about the privacy settings on the social media sites. I too picked You Tube as a media outlet for my issue as well and I had great concern about putting videos of children out on the internet through the You Tube website. To be honest I didn’t know you could set privacy settings on there. I am not a frequent user of You Tube so thank you for the valuable information!

  5. Kimberly,

    I was in a dental office the other day and on her computer screen the receptionist was watching her child daughter’s classroom. The school where she attends has a live feed so that the parents can check in during the day. This is an idea that I want to explore for my early childhood department. I actually have had two parents with separation anxiety and it was difficult to see them experience such stress. One of them dropped her child off in the morning for half day preschool and sat on the parking lot because she experienced anxiety of not knowing what her child was doing when they were apart. Something like this would help alleviate the stress and anxiety.

    A live feed would help promote your pre-k and afterschool program so that your audience would have a better idea of what is included in a quality after school program. Of course, as with anything media related, you would have to have parental consent, but the receptionist told me that every parent was happy to sign a consent form because they wanted the peace of mind the live stream offers.

    Darla

    • A live feed to your child’s classroom is a concept that has both value to teachers and families alike, but I also see that there could be possible problems with having parents have access to their child all day. While I value the need for parents to have a view into their child’s day any time they want, I also see that parents, could have too much influence on a classroom teacher’s daily routine. Parents have a view about who their children “should” play with or how much time their child spends with their teacher and these ideas may be in direct opposition to the child’s wants and needs or what the teacher feels is best. I have children every day that behave differently when parents are not involved in our activities and they are allowed to make decisions for themselves. In looking at a live feed for my classroom during after school hours, I would need to research how much it would cost to put in the necessary technology and I fear it would be expensive. It could be a possibility for later in our program, thank you for the suggestion.

  6. KImberly,
    My daughter was talking about the nursery rhymes her daughter enjoyed watching on YouTube. She found out the hard way that the nursery rhymes are not really meant for children. They were watching one day and ran into some porn. Needless to say they now watch the same nursery rhymes that my daughter has previewed.
    Laurel

    • There is such a need for caution when using videos that are posted on the internet. To protect young children, parents and teachers must be proactive in previewing videos and websites that children watch. Also families and teachers should rely on trusted educational sites for use at school and at home. Children should never be allowed to use a computer unsupervised due to the amount of inappropriate content that is easy to access.

      • My daughter found that out the hard way.. They were playing together but she was definitely surprised and clicked off right away. The only games the children play are ones we have screened. It is so scary though what is out there.
        Laurel

  7. Hi Kimberly,

    You surfaced so many things to think about in your blog – benefits and cautions. I, too, am concerned about the privacy issues involved. Regardless of privacy settings, etc., not every abides (or even thinks about it for that matter) and things get out. In addition, there are so many ways private information can be hacked into, that almost anything on the internet can be seen. I find myself loving social media as much as I hate it. It has such potential to go in either direction. I often reflect about this relative to how technology has changed the way people younger than me (and that includes more than the majority of the population!) think about the issue of privacy and communication. A perception is that older people are afraid of technology because they didn’t grow up with it as part of their lives. I grew up in a newspaper environment and remember when pictures and stories would come over the wires through the American Press, Reuters, and the United Press International (this goes back for me to the late 40’s) and I have been using technology since 1980 (I had my first laptop in 1983 – the TRS-80 for which I had to learn BASIC in order to use it). While there wasn’t the internet at that time, technology was not something I was afraid of. I used to have to use it often for briefing purposes, spread sheet functions, etc. But what I realize is that there seems to be a different sense of something – whether that be privacy or whatever – and I am not sure how it is identified. Many of your comments reminded me of this. Thanks.

    • I agree that privacy needs to be foremost in our minds when putting anything on social media. My children are both teenagers and we caution them constantly about the pictures, posts, and information that they put out on the internet, but they lack an understanding of how these sites can affect their lives both short-term and long-term. Technology is both our friend and foe, depending on your use for social media. I believe that social media used in the proper way can be a powerful communication tool for teachers and families alike.

  8. Kimberly,

    Facebook is a great way to share classroom activities and events. Do you believe that your school would approve the use of YouTube and Facebook? Our administration would not allow the use of Facebook, not even to share untitled photos or upcoming events.

    • Since my school system has a Facebook page, I feel that would be an acceptable way for me to communicate with my children’s parents. I would be very deliberate about informing parents and administration about my intentions prior to beginning to post on my class Facebook page. Parents must fill out a form giving the school permission to post student’s pictures on the school website and local newspaper. I hope that your school system will be more open about using social media to promote your school in the future.

  9. Kimberly,
    I have never used Snapchat however, I understand that the picture (supposedly) disappears after 10 or 15 seconds which could be nice if you did not want something permanent on the WEB.

    • In asking my children about Snapchat and they said there is an app that will allow the user to be able to save all pictures on their phone. Even if you do not have that app, I believe that pictures that you send are never safe on the web.

  10. Kimberly – It appears you have thought through the challenges you will face when use the two social media sites. I work with many child care providers that use Facebook and/or password protected websites for parents and/or family members to view the experiences their children encounter through out their day. Technology is most definitely changing the way in which we communicate and share information; but, as with any new communication tool, ethics and confidentiality must be considered.

    Kacey

  11. I believe that social media is a great tool for sharing the daily routines with families and using password protected websites would be beneficial for all parties to protect their privacy.

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