Kindergartens can focus on play with Kindiedays
After first setting out to make pens and papers redundant, this company now seeks to spread Finnish education expertise across the globe.
Where’s my pen? Oh, it’s raining, the paper’s getting wet! Hang on, is this GDPR-compliant? Keeping track of a group of small children is a full-time job, particularly with all the administrative work that comes with it. Kindiedays co-founders Jessi Laidler and Milla Mikkola are fully familiar with the pain points of the profession, having worked together in the management of a Finnish playschool.
“We felt that a lot of the ways in which information was recorded were unprofessional, old-fashioned and not very secure,” Mikkola explains. “We could also tell that our playschool wasn’t the only one struggling with the same issues.”
On top of making sure everything important is written down accurately and in a timely manner, the Kindiedays duo wanted to make communication between parents and teachers smoother and more efficient. For example, checking the child’s absences or finding information about upcoming events would be much easier using an app instead of a growing pile of paper notes.
“Often parents are in a rush both when they drop their children off and when they pick them up, so there’s no time to really talk about how their children are doing,” Laidler explains.
Children aren’t always able to help, either. Mikkola and Laidler have noticed that when parents ask their child about the day, the child often doesn’t elaborate on what he or she has been up to. Thus, parents don’t always stay up to date when it comes to the educational aspect of daycare.
If a teacher has documented the day’s learning on the app, the parent can use it to create more depth in the conversation and continue learning at home, the founders add.
Three approaches in one
The idea started to brew when Laidler and Mikkola were working as colleagues. In 2016, they quit their day jobs to fully focus on developing Kindiedays. Outsourcing the code with support from angel investors and then-Tekes (now Business Finland), the two education professionals took care of design and content.
The first version of the product hit the market in 2017. Currently, it’s available in Finland, Spain and Dubai, with ongoing pilots in Colombia and Australia.
The core idea is three-fold. Kindiedays helps plan and document a child’s learning, making it visible to both parents and teachers. Secondly, it helps teachers and parents communicate in a more meaningful way. And thirdly, it supports teachers in their daily routines, beginning with things as simple as noting the length of a child’s nap.
“The idea was born out of point number three, but now we’re putting more and more effort into the pedagogical elements,” Mikkola tells. “We don’t restrict our international clients to the Finnish curriculum, but through our app they can understand why Finnish early-childhood education is so well known.”
Spreading the good word
Currently, Kindiedays is available in four languages: Finnish, English, Swedish and Spanish. The team is searching for more partners abroad, primarily within the existing language regions.
Laidler points out that selling a service like Kindiedays is very different in different markets. The ways in which parents and teachers think vary between countries, so the app isn’t customised to just suit the Finnish context.
In many places, the emphasis is still on how the tool helps teachers in compulsory reporting.
“For example, in Spain teachers need to report children’s lunches and toileting with a pen and paper. With the app, it’s faster and easier,” Laidler says.
However, the underlying vision Kindiedays has is to share Finnish education secrets and make it possible for others to utilise bits and pieces of them. Things that are taken for granted in Finland might be new approaches elsewhere.
“It’s really important to have all three parties involved, from children to parents and teachers,” Laidler concludes. “Otherwise a playschool is just a parking space for kids.”
Text: Anne Salomäki