Transcript: The Role of Technology in Caregiving and Caregiving Experiences

Presented by Katie Gullone

Parenting Together Pathway, Trying Together

>> Katie Gullone: Hello, everyone. It is a joy to be with you all today. My name is Katie Gullone and I serve as the program director for Message from Me at Trying Together. We are based in the Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania area and we are a nonprofit, early childhood advocacy organization. In my role, I oversee the project development of Message for Me, a technology tool that’s been designed in collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University in their Community Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab. And we are graciously supported by PNC Grow Up Great. At Trying Together, we support high quality care, and education for young children by providing advocacy, community resources and professional growth opportunities for the needs and rights of children, their families, and the individuals who interact with them. We are also on many social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. And we encourage you to stay up to date with Trying Together news and events by joining our newsletter signup list, which is available on our website. Today, I will be sharing on the role of technology in caregiving and caregiving experiences. There are so many contradictory statements about the role of technology in young children’s life. That as a caregiver, it can sometimes become frustrating, confusing to understand. So today really, this session will highlight how technology can not only be a resource in caregiving experiences, but how it can serve as an important way to be integrated into the lives of children to support their daily routines, including playful experiences, and how it can be fun and supportive to their growth and development. And this video today is a part of the parenting together pathway, which is a series to provide high quality care and information around early childhood development. And for parents and for caregivers in Allegheny County and surrounding areas. As parents, you are the child’s first teacher, and the primary caregiving role for children. It is — You are such an essential piece to the development of your child, and you are your child’s first teacher. And even with all of these contradictory statements can sometimes be confusing, I really want us today, to be able to take some time for you to really reflect on your experience as a parent, as a primary caregiver, and really thinking about ways that we can support you and also that you can integrate forms of technology and digital media to be playful experiences between you and your child. Because we know that “Without human beings, that there would never have been a computer or anything else that we call advanced technology. That’s something I like to help children remember. That no matter what the machine may be, it is with people who thought it up and made it up. And it’s the people who make it work.” And that is a quote from Fred Rogers, out of the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning & Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College. And what I’d like to do, as we get started this morning, and this afternoon or evening, wherever you are listening to this session today, is I would like to honor you. As we are facing drastic changes and challenges in our daily lives and trying to navigate them the very best that we can. You are going above and beyond to be able to provide loving and compassionate care for your family. And you’re finding unique ways to navigate. Trying to navigate our new normal for your loved ones. And it is truly life giving and a testament to just how essential you are to the lives of your children and your families. And as I think about in the ways that — Just how critical and how essential you are to the lives of your children and your families, just by being you and being a responsive parent and caregiver. That is what enables your child to be resilient and resilient during these difficult times. And our children are very resilient. And I do believe and have hope, that with our continued caring approach to our interactions with children, that they will heal, and they will move forward. And as your role as that parent and that caregiver, is really — it’s really just to respond to children to respond to them and to their behaviors with empathy, with flexibility. And when using forms of digital technologies with children, we can also help support children’s feelings as well. So how do we do that? And what does that look like in our home environments, with our children? It’s really about building that resiliency during COVID-19. And really being responsive, caring, in our relationships, and in our interactions. And it’s the research that tells us that we grow best, and we learn best through relationships. And that children have opportunities to — for connection and for success. So for them to be able to feel connected to their loved ones, or to their friends, or to their other family members, and really helping support that connection. Also too by providing choice, such as choosing an activity that you would like to do together. Sharing with your child, oh, would you like to sit down and watch “Daniel Tiger,” or “Paw Patrol” with me this afternoon? So being able to provide choices in the activities, which — or even choices and everything that we do throughout their daily routines. As well as thinking about focusing on their social skills. So being able to encourage them to engage in conversation with you, with their loved ones, through the use and forms of digital technologies. As well as thinking about ways in which routines are just so essential to maintaining right now, to build that resiliency in children. And what we mean by that is routines is the routine that you follow from the time you get up in the morning, preparing children for breakfast, preparing them for their transition to childcare, or to school. And then transitioning them to home or even those bedtime routines. All of those routines are really essential, and at the heart of building that resiliency during COVID-19 and really just at all points of children’s lives and in their forms of development. So can children learn from screens? And you think about children and their growth and development, and how it can best support them. So what is really exactly happening when children are interacting with screens? And how are they learning? And this is very important research that recently came out through the Erickson Institute at the Technology and Early Childhood Center. And this research suggests that there is some evidence that children can learn from high quality media. Similar to how children learn with — from books. So the way that you interact with books with your child, is in similar ways reacting and connecting with that high quality media. But what they’re finding in their research, and what they found is that the key ingredient is adult interactions. So that key ingredient is you and how the adult, the caregiver, the parent, the teacher interacts with children is what really is making the difference. So that repetition, predictability, help with co-viewing, and opportunities for extension activities, is really what’s also helping children learn. And what we mean by extension activities is for example, if you’re counting apples on an app with your child or watching your child count apples on the app, encourage them to count socks in your laundry basket. Or if you’re at the laundry mat, encouraging them to talk about counting the clothes or counting how many shirts that you have that you’re folding together. So that’s really — an important piece is really growing those extension activities, as well as character relationships. So what they’re finding is that character relationships such as Elmo, Daniel Tiger, or “Paw Patrol” is also what’s helping support children in their learning. And one of the key documents that the Fred Rogers Center, and the National Association for the Education of Young children, which is also known as NAEYC, has created a joint position statement on interactive media and technology for children birth to age eight. And this is very important in the connection to the research that recently came out at the Erickson Institute in the tech center. And this position statement was published in 2012, but was really created to help provide guidance for adults and children. That really are serving as foundation for educators, as well as caregivers in early learning, school setting and environments. And this document is still very much relevant to our work today with young children in the early childhood field, and the use of technology and media. And it’s really about how we use digital technologies as tools. And what we mean by that is thinking in ways that it can be — that that app, or that iPad, or that game that you’re playing on the iPad, or a Kindle device, is when it’s used intentionally and meaningfully, it can make that difference in the lives of children and their families. And we know — and this is a quote actually directly from the position statement that technology and interactive media are tools that can promote effective learning and development when used intentionally. So what I’d like for us to do now is for us to take a few moments for you to read through the key messages of the position statement, which is documented in your workbook. And take a few minutes to read through that front and back page of that document. So it’s two pages. And highlight words that are important to you. And we’ll come back together in about five minutes. I’ll give you that time to take that moment to do that. So let’s come back together as a whole group. So thinking about those ways in which the NAEYC and Fred Roger position statement really impact our lives and the lives of our children and the way that we connect with families and digital technologies. So let’s take a couple of moments really just to I’d like to highlight some of the big ideas, and the key words, and the most important takeaways from this position statement. So one of the big words, the biggest takeaways is really thinking about ways that technology, and digital media, and digital tools, and the iPads, computers, our apps, and TV and television shows that we watch with our children is really looking at how we can support it as a tool. It’s really thinking of ways that that can serve as a tool, just as we use books with children. Thinking about ways that we can use that app, or that game that children are using on the iPad, to really thinking about in ways that it can serve as a tool like we use books. Another important word is intentional. So really looking at the intentionality of why, where, who and how this app, or this television show, or something that you’re doing on the iPad, or Kindle, or tablet, or an iPhone is really looking at ways — and what’s the intentionality behind that. So how is it being meaningful for your child? And then also looking at is it appropriate? So we really want to be mindful of are the images, the words, and what children are seeing on this app or this TV show, is it appropriate for my child? As well as thinking of ways that it can be integrated in a balanced way. And really like to use this word at Trying Together. We think about balance and digital health and digital wellbeing. So just as we teach children how to have healthy diets, eat their vegetables, try new foods, eat different fruits. We also want children to be able to navigate forms of — have a balanced digital diet. So making sure that they’re spending — if they’re on the screen or having to use a computer program, or using Zoom or Skype that it’s a balanced way. That it’s really teaching children these healthy skills and using and navigating digital — the digital media and those digital platforms. And also looking at content and context. So we’re really again thinking about, what is this content that children are seeing, and, and how is it impacting my child? As well as thinking in ways in which we’re selecting, and how we’re using that with children. So really just wanted to note these really important and key takeaway messages. And what I’d like for us to do next is to spend some time and thinking about these key words and the position statement. And I’d like to share some really — some relevant examples of what that looks like in real time with your child. And what we know, especially even as we move forward and thinking about these examples with children, is that relationships are absolutely essential to everything that we do. Everything that we do with our children, with our families and with our loved ones. And it’s so important that we think about in different ways in which how we interact with children, and how does that child interact with media and technology to really strengthen relationships. And we want to think about — and helpful ways to thinking about how children’s relationships can really be supported in these three ways, with integrating forms of digital technologies. So what I’d like to do is just to share a couple of things from the Fred Rogers Center, really around at the heart of this. So we think about one, how does this technology — this app, or this TV show, how does it help support the child’s relationship to self? And what we mean by that is, we might ask how these experiences that children are seeing, have children to be able to help them to understand and express themselves. So how does it help support their development, their independence, their confidence in using forms, and that — again, that digital wellbeing? And two, how does this form of this iPad or this app support the child’s relationship to others? So really thinking about how does this experience help a child to connect, to collaborate, to be creative, and to share ideas with their peers, with their family members, or with other loved ones in their lives? And also thinking about ways that your child has this relationship to the larger world, and their community and their environment. So really thinking about, for example, how children might be able to help this particular app or this experience, this virtual experience, help children to be able to connect to the other lives of people, and around the world near and far. And a great example of this, I just like to think about in this way. I recently heard a school, that was one of their assignments for children in their virtual remote online learning experiences, was going to the Georgia — so the Atlanta Georgia Aquarium, and being able to experience — take some virtual field trips. And so it was just thinking about it in the way that this child was sharing with me about how they were going to the — taking a field trip, they were able to see the manatees and the sharks and the penguins, being able to see their feeding times. All through the webcams that they had at the Georgia Aquarium. And I just think, how fascinating. And just thinking about ways that that helps supports children and their relationships in the larger context. So I’d just like to share that example and thinking about how we can support in children’s development and their lives in ways using forms of digital technologies. And we know that, “Nothing will ever take the place of one person actually being with another person. So let’s not get so fascinated by what technology can do, that we forget what it can’t do. A computer can help you learn to spell hug, H-U-G, but it can never know the risks or the joy of actually giving or receiving one. And it’s through relationships that we grow best, and we learn best.” And that again, thinking in the ways that we reflect on ourselves as parents, and caregivers, and really thinking at the heart of this quote, and — from Fred Rogers, from the Fred Rogers Center for Early Learning and Children’s Media at Saint Vincent College, that it’s really important to think at the heart of all of this and — is our relationships and our relationships with our children. And that we know, when using media together, it helps to improve children’s learning. So really just based upon the research that we have been — that Trying Together has really been looking into and just these foundational ways to really approach children’s learning, especially around thinking around digital forms of technologies and technologies. And how that impacts children and their development. So really, we use media together. So when we co-view — so using it together with our child and have that active engagement, where we’re collaborating, and we’re working together, and talking with our child about what’s on the screen, that is what’s really helping children to connect to real life experiences, and build those critical language skills. So building language skills in English, or their home language, and really growing their vocabulary. So as we — as the caregivers, and parents, and we’re encouraging interactions, we’re strengthening those relationships between our child, and ourselves, around these forms of media. So it’s this important message that it’s really critical to watch together and to do together and to play together when we’re looking at screens and having Zoom calls and doing online learning. It’s that critical piece to really co-viewing and being together with our child. So what does that look like in our own lives? And what I’d like to do next is to take five minutes for you to reflect on thinking about — so how — what does this look like in my life? And really just spending some time thinking about ways that we are — we teach our children and what we’re doing right now in our lives. And how are you living well with technology? So I’d like for us to take five minutes to do that and then we’ll come back together as a whole group. So let’s come back together. So we think about in ways that we’re living well with technology, what came up for you? What resonated with you? Those are a few of the reflections that I’d really like for you just to think about, especially as we navigate through the next part of our session, where I can share some examples with you around really thinking about ways that we’re living while with technology, and what that looks like in our own environment, and in ways in which that we would like to grow in or to learn more. And I think, you know, when we look and reflect on living well with technologies, it really comes up to a couple of key pieces. When we think around how we are creating technology experiences for our children. So one that really comes up is thinking around ways that we can be a co-explorer. So what we mean by that is exploring and playing together with our child, and really discovering together apps and games and remote learning experiences. So if your child is currently in an online remote learning experience, how can you play with them and co-explore what they’re discovering and what they’re learning together with them? And also thinking about ways that we’re modeling use. So in ways that we are modeling for children how to use and interact with digital technologies, and phones and iPads, and computers and TV? So what are we modeling, as adults, as parents, and as caregivers of our children? And thinking in ways in which we model that use and help support children, our own children. And then also thinking in ways that children can be creative. So how can they create, story tell and not necessarily just use tech for the sake of tech, but really being able to have an opportunity for them to be able to create with forms of technologies. And then also thinking about and ways in which we set limits for children and establishing routines. And I think that’s important to note that it’s less about the time of screen time use, but more about how we’re using screens with children. So really thinking in ways in which that we can set routines, support daily activities, and support learning for our children in those ways. And then we also want to consider internet safety. I think that’s a really important piece — critical piece when we think about ways in which we really need to protect our children, protect them from images or content that’s not appropriate for them. And in ways in which that they are in the images, and what they’re seeing, and what they’re doing with — on the technology. So I do encourage — there are some really great literature out there from the American Academy of Pediatrics, which — there’s a website called healthy media habits that you can — I think it’s, around — the American Academy of Pediatrics put together around really just supporting children and their health, around navigating digital technologies. So I would encourage — that’s a great website to check out if you’re looking for any forms of information on internet safety. So what I would like to do next is to share a couple of examples with you. This is one example from “Sesame Street,” which has created an entire website dedicated to supporting children and families during multiple — on a variety of topics, but especially around topics that are really critical to — for primary caregivers and parents right now, around — just as an example around “Sesame Street” for separation anxiety, they have interactive games, and just other information on this website. So I’d like to just share my screen so you can see. I’m going to just go ahead and share my screen so you can see what I’m looking at. So this is just one example of what I’d like to share around — for example, around the “Sesame Street” information and guide around really feeling the supportive separation anxiety. So as an example, on the, this is just an example around looking at separation anxiety. So what’s really wonderful about these resources that they have on this website, is that not only do they tell you the age, what this could be appropriate for, they also give you topics. Like health emergencies, for example, which COVID-19 and the pandemic and ongoing pandemic, you can find lots of information around health emergencies and how to just connect with children or provide some different resources and new examples. And it also tells you how many minutes that this would take. So four to 10 minutes out of your day. And it gives a little bit of context around so you’re spending time more with families and routines are changing. But it can be difficult to be a part. And this is actually one of the most topics that comes up when I work with early childhood teachers and in school settings, is really around children — seeing children and their separation anxiety. So this would be just a great start if you’re noticing anything with your child, and they’re transitioning, and they’re having a difficult time. Feeling sad or worried about adjusting to new changes or to go into a new place. And so this is just — you know, they break it down and kind of how to help support your child. They also then have links to videos. So for example, this would be a great video to watch with your child. Watch Elmo and daddy say they’re morning goodbye in this video. So you can click on this video and it comes up that —

>> Oh, hi there. You know, sometimes it’s hard for Elmo to say goodbye to his daddy. So one morning before school, Elmo and daddy talked about it and figured out some fun ways to make it easier.

[ Multiple Speakers, Music ]

>> Now remember that your water bottles in your lunch bag in case you get thirsty. Now, you have a good day son!

>> Wait, but maybe Elmo should stay with daddy at home today. In case daddy gets lonely.

>> Well, that’s nice of you, son. But I’ll be okay. I’ll see you later.

>> But how about if daddy comes to school with Elmo? Yeah, daddy can be Elmo’s show and tell.

>> Well, maybe we’ll do that one day, but right now it’s time to go.

>> No.

>> Elmo, what’s going on?

>> Elmo doesn’t want daddy to leave.

>> Oh, well that’s okay son. It’s okay. Oh, well, hey, look who’s here?

>> Oh, hi?

>> Elmo is about to go into his preschool here. But sometimes, it’s still a little hard for him to say goodbye. Isn’t that right, son?

>> Yeah.

>> And that’s all okay. Lots of kids feel that way sometimes.

>> Really?

>> Mm-hmm.

>> Do you ever feel that way? Like you don’t want to say goodbye to mommy or daddy?

>> Well, it can be hard for lots of kids. But Elmo, you really like school, don’t you?

>> Well, yeah. Elmo like school a lot. Elmo likes daddy too. Elmo loves daddy. Elmo doesn’t want daddy to go.

>> Aww son, I love you too [giggles]. Maybe it’s time to try a new strategy.

>> Strategy? Well, what’s that?

>> Huh? Oh, [laughs] a strategy is a plan. A plan to help solve a problem. We can come up with a new strategy to make drop off time easier.

>> Oh, well, but how?

>> Well, I don’t know yet but we’ll figure it out.

>> Elmo doesn’t know. This is hard.

>> Well, just because something’s hard, doesn’t mean we’re going to give up. We’re going to figure this out. Okay?

>> Okay.

>> All right. Let’s see. Oh, maybe we could do a special handshake when we say goodbye.

>> Oh, a handshake?

>> Yeah, a special one that only you and I do.

>> Oh, a special fist bump.

>> Fist bump?

>> Yeah, like this, see?

[ Laughter ]

>> Well, I like that. Does that make you feel better about saying goodbye?

>> Not really.

>> Oh, well. That’s okay, we’ll come up with another strategy. What about if we say goodbye in a fun kind of way? Something like, see you later mashed potater?

[ Laughter ]

>> Oh, bye-bye, pizza pie.

[ Laughter ]

>> That’s a good one. Do you think that would help?

>> Well, a little. But Elmo still doesn’t want daddy to leave.

>> Well, maybe it would help if I gave you something to take with you.

>> Oh, but like what?

>> Like this.

>> Huh?

[ Kissing Sound ]

>> There. Now you hold on to that kiss. So you can feel daddy’s love whenever you need it.

>> Oh, yeah, Elmo likes that. Now Elmo will have daddy’s kiss all day.

[ Laughter ]

>> That’s right. And just remember, we’re going to be together again real soon. I always come back for you at pickup time, don’t I?

>> Well, yeah.

>> And you’re going to have a great time in school. Just think of all the fun things you’re going to do.

>> Yeah, well Elmo does like playtime with his friends and storytime, and circle time. Oh, and free time too.

>> Well, there you go.

>> Elmo! School’s about to start.

>> Okay.

>> He’ll be right there, Mrs. Betancourt. You okay now? I think we found some good strategies, right?

>> Well, yeah daddy. We figured it out.

>> I knew that we would. Now you hold on to that kiss, okay?

>> Yeah.

>> And maybe this time, we don’t say goodbye. We’ll just say, bye-bye for now.

>> Okay. Bye-bye for now, daddy.

>> Bye-bye for now, son.

>> Boy, Elmo felt a lot better after that. What’s your special way of saying goodbye?

>> Katie Gullone: So we just think about — and ways in which this can be a supportive way just to connect with our children and helping support them with that transition and easing that transition right now. And what’s great is that even these little — these short video clips come up with something at the end that says, try to keep a similar goodbye routine after a military move or when changing caretakers. And I think that’s so critical. Especially oftentimes, you know, children may have a new teacher or a new — someone who is a caretaker that’s new in their lives. And so it’s just how to help support them with that transition, but also easing that transition for us too, as the parent and that caregiver, is having to say goodbye to our child. So this goodbye and reuniting is very much a part of that developmental process. So it’s normal for children to oftentimes cry or to miss their families and to miss their parents. So I do just want to note that that is something — as far as children’s development it’s very normal; this hello and goodbye. This reuniting and this transitional pieces is very normal. For children, but I think what’s not as normal is really this ongoing pandemic, and this health emergency right now with COVID-19. And for not — for us not always to be able to be in our children’s classroom environments, or to see them all throughout the day. So I do just share that — I’ll go back to this website. That this is just a great website to be able to connect. This is another great resource around when children miss their friends. And it’s another great video and they give tips about before watching the video, as you watch the video, and after you watch the video. And there’s also two articles about how we can keep close hearts even when we’re apart. And I really like these interactive games, too. They’re really helpful to be able to support children as well. And I share that just so that you can have that as an example and a resource. So another resource that I’d like to share is in this clip. This is actually from And this is “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” And I think — if you’ve not seen these resources that are available on the website, I would highly encourage you to check them out. This — the PBS Kids has some wonderful videos, and clips, and games, and stories, and activities that you can do with children. Especially if your child has that relationship with the character of Daniel Tiger. This is a great start just to be able to again, connect in forms of digital media that’s developmentally appropriate. And really that’s designed by early childhood experts and researchers. So that’s what’s such a gift about using “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood” and the resources at that. It is designed by early childhood experts. So I’d like for us just to watch this clip together. This is a clip called Daniel can’t go to the carnival. If you’ve not seen this episode yet, this is — just again, it’s a one-and-a-half-minute clip that I’d like for us — just for us to watch together. And for you just to see what do you notice about this clip? And how it can really help support your child and just conversations around the pandemic right now and being distant from — physically distant from our loved ones.

>> I’m at home again today. Tigey and I are playing carnival. We’re going to ride on the rides and play games. Have you ever been to a carnival before? I wonder if the carnival is happening soon. Mom!

>> Yes, Daniel?

>> When can we go to the neighborhood carnival? Is it soon? Tigey can’t wait to go [laughs].

>> Oh, remember my little tiger. There won’t be a neighborhood carnival this year.

>> Grr! No neighborhood carnival? But we always go to the neighborhood carnival.

>> I know. Here. Come sit with me my big tiger.

[ Music ]

[Sighs] things have changed a lot lately and it’s frustrating. Your dad and I are upset about it too. Do you want to talk about it? [Singing] Ask questions about what’s happening, it might help.

>> My question is, why can’t we go to the neighborhood carnival? Grr!

>> That’s a good question, Daniel. Dr. Anna told us that we shouldn’t all get together with our whole neighborhood right now. We’re staying far apart, so we don’t accidentally spread germs.

>> Oh! [Singing] Grownups are here to take care of you.

[ Music ]

>> There are all kinds of ways that grownups can keep you safe.

>> Katie Gullone: And so we think about — and just different ways that we can use that clip with our child and children in our family. And I also just want to know and really in just ways that we think about — it can support children and just having those conversations around how me as the mom, or me as the dad, or the auntie, or the grandma or grandpa that’s really struggling with our own feelings and navigating our emotions and how we can help support and talk about that with children in our emotions and our feelings. And there’s some really wonderful, again, episodes music, information that you can really navigate through. But I would encourage you also too, to check out some of the apps; the Daniel Tiger Apps. If you’ve not seen them before, these again are wonderful resources. One of my favorites is this parents’ app; Daniel Tiger for Parents. It’s free to download. And you can again, use that in so many different ways. There’s ways to take pictures together, to have a digital scrapbook of the things and the experiences that you’re having with your child. So we do encourage you just to check it out, if you haven’t already, to take a look through some of these resources on the websites. So I’m just going to go ahead and go back to our other screen. And what I’d like for us to do now is just to have a reflection. So take a moment to think about and the ways and reflecting on those video clips. So what did you notice? And how can those apps and that information be helpful for you, as a parent and caregiver for your children? So just take a moment to think about that. And ways in which this — those video clips can really help support conversations and connections and our interactions with our children? And I’d also like to share that these are all of the resources that I recommend. And I’ve created this list to really help support teachers and families when thinking about ways in which to facilitate technology media practices online, but also thinking about ways to support in our own home environments. This is a collection of wonderful resources. And you can sign up for their social media pages, you can sign up for their e-newsletter, so you can get your emails with some of the newsletters and the most important up to date information. And all of these websites have free resources that are available to you, that have been designed by early childhood experts. So this is the list and it’s also available in your workbook as well. Another resource I just wanted to note, it’s called Common Sense Media. But this is — if you’ve seen Common Sense Media before, this is — I would just really encourage you to take a look at this particular website that’s been designed by Common Sense Media called Wide Open School. And Wide Open School has — this is what their toolbar looks like. But you can actually just select family and teacher center. And it provides a wealth of resources for you as the parent and really just how to support children, and navigating their emotional wellbeing, especially when thinking about any forms of remote or online learning experiences. It’s really important and I think this for — across the board for all the children in your family and in your lives. And just encouraging to use some of these resources to really help support and balance that wellbeing and really help this, you know, collection of ways of thinking about how videos, games, video games, books, e-books, and remote learning experiences. So check this out. This is a great resource and it’s also too available on your COVID-19 resource list. And one of the resources that’s also on your list as well in your workbook is called Message from Me. And this is a project that I work very closely with as the program director, but also thinking about, in ways that a resource that can really support children in a developmentally appropriate way to enhance family engagement with the early learning setting. So really helping support you as the parent to know what’s going on in your child’s daily life and their routines inside their early learning environments. And so this is an innovative technology tool that we have, that we are Trying Together. It’s one of our initiatives and our special projects. We work very closely with Carnegie Mellon University, to be able to support and to design this technology tool and to have it available for all early childhood educators. So I’d like to share a clip with you just so you can see it, but this is available in your community in your area. So I’d encourage you to talk with teachers about it. Your early childhood teachers in your childcare programs, as well as feel free to reach out to us too at Trying Together if you have any additional questions. I’d like for us — just so you can see what this looks like now. And really, at the heart of Message from Me — this is actually one of the examples; is looking at how in ways that we can connect caregivers, children and their families. And really, at the heart, as I’d like to just introduce what Message from Me is, it’s — again, it’s a technology tool. So it’s an app, that children can communicate with their families about their daily activities, and learning experiences, through the use of digital pictures, and recorded audio messages. So it is that — it is an app that’s designed to function on an iPad, an Android device, or a Kindle, an Amazon Kindle. And so what happens is families — so you would receive a message in the form of a message on your phone through the app. There’s an app that you would download as the family, as the caregiver, as the parent. So that you could access and see messages from your child. So we are very excited that we’re able to launch this app and to be able to have it available, as well as thinking about in ways that Message for Me serves to engage families. So it’s really at the heart of it is family engagement. So engaging you in the educational experience of what’s happening in the — in your child’s daily routines and lives, to really promote interaction and relationships and what’s happening in your child’s childcare program. And we know now more than ever, with programs and all of the transition in early learning settings, is that really connecting with you and the parent is really important and critical to helping support children. And what we found — and really, this connection between caregivers, children and their families, is that it’s really this unique and intentionally designed way for children. So it’s child led, for children ages three to five, to be able to independently use, and explore, and to be able to choose their family members and the adults important to their lives. So that’s sharing messages with their grandparents, foster families, speech therapists, anyone that you as the parent give permission for that child to be able to send messages. And it is a one-way form of communication. So it’s really designed — so when you’re reunited with your child that you can talk about the message. Ask questions, share that, co-viewing the message together with your child and really looking at how educators — we also support all — any educator that’s using Message from Me with professional development. And we are so — and we are graciously funded through and by PNC Grow Up Great. So we have a unique opportunity right now, that we are completely funded through them. So I’m going to go ahead and just pause my screen for a moment and share with you, and what Message from Me looks like.

[ School Bell Ringing ]

>> Angel! What’s up, kid?

[ Music ]

>> Can you head into [inaudible] and you’re in your class.

[ Inaudible Comment ]

[ Music ]

>> Brielle is four years old. In her early education, she works towards developmental milestones; exploring, discovering and having rich experiences that are the building blocks for her future. With Message from Me —

>> Mom.

>> — she’s able to share these experiences.

>> What did you take a picture of?

>> I took a picture of my math.

>> A mother has a reference; a young child has a recall. A conversation now has a starting point.

[ Music, Kids Laughing ]

[ Music ]

>> Message from Me; 16,000 messages and counting.

[ Music ]

>> Katie Gullone: So we think about Message from Me, and just — and ways in which it can be a tool to really connect caregivers, children, and their families. So and what has really resonated with you and come up during this time? And what is one thing that you’ve learned? One takeaway, if you could really take one thing away from today, what would that be? So I’d like for you just to take a few minutes to document your findings, and anything else that you would like to add into your reflection sheet. Just some things that you’ve learned. What came up for you? Is Message from Me a tool that you would like to see your children to be able to use? So in thinking about all of those ways, and how really everything that we touched on today, in your role as a parent and a caregiver in the lives of your children, and thinking about, what is that one takeaway? And as we’re reflecting, I would really like to close today with a quote, that’s really at the heart of our work at Trying Together. And really, we’re in the foundation of where our name comes from. And it’s that, “We need to remember that children are trying, too. Trying to understand their feelings and their world, trying to please the people they love, trying to grow. And when grownups and children are trying together, just about anything is possible.” And I’d also like to share — and thank you again for your participation in today’s session. But there are a number of sessions that are available on the Parenting Together pathway website for you to view. Additionally, there are a few resources that Trying Together has provides for families. So uniquely designed for you, as the parent. There is the Allegheny Child Care, which is if you’re a caregiver seeking child care for early learning, after school, or out of school, or summer camp and virtual programs, this is a great start for you to be able to search all the available spots in Allegheny County. We also have the Early Learning Resource Center Region 5, where families can utilize the Early Learning Resource Center to gain information and services that support high quality care and early learning for children. As well as we also have the Homewood Early Learning Hub and Family Center, which is a space for families in Homewood or surrounding areas that can utilize the Hub and the Family Center for activities for their child and for their children for individual and group support for parents as well. And we also have the Developmentally Appropriate Parenting, DAP series, which utilizes the Developmentally Appropriate Parenting series on the Trying Together website. And it’s a way to — website to help navigate a variety of topics that are related to early childhood. And new content is added all throughout the year. And you can visit our websites here to join any of that — of those websites and that information. We really strongly value your feedback. So we encourage you to please complete the survey to receive, as well as the Developmentally Appropriate Practice Series cards by mail by selecting this website. And again, thank you so much for joining me today. This is my contact information. If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me. This is my email at Thank you.

Parenting Together Pathway

The Parenting Together Pathway is a video-based learning series to provide high-quality information on early childhood development to parents and caregivers in Allegheny County and surrounding areas.

Learn more about the series.



Image: An early learning professional works with a young student to put together a puzzle of a young boy.
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