Talking Early Years: In Conversation with Matt Arnerich

January 24th 2024

We Are Famly!

My first Podcast of 2024 is an interview with the very delightful Matt Arnerich, Director of Brand & Comms at Famly – an Early Childhood Platform that bridges the collaboration gap between the grown-ups who raise young children. It supports around 6,000 Early Years providers and families to communicate, share information, run their business and learn new things. Whilst we don’t subscribe to Famly’s platform at LEYF, we are very supportive of its work. 

I wanted to talk to Matt about his international perspective of Early Years Education and Care (EYEC), what he thinks are the benefits of digitalisation for pedagogical practice and clarify the difference between digitalisation and digitisation (who knew?!). I was also keen to hear his take on AI in the Early Years, which is something I am very interested in understanding better.  

As background, Matt’s international take on the Early Years began at home with his Mum working in the sector. His family heritage stems from New Zealand, Europe and a bit of Irish! He has lived in Denmark for the past seven years, his partner is from Finland and he is working with Famly across the UK, Denmark, Norway, Germany and the US.  

We started our international exploration in Denmark, a country that is often cited in a somewhat rose-tinted way by the press as a great example of providing access to affordable high quality EYEC. The Princess of Wales visit there in 2022, as part of her campaigning for The Royal Foundation Centre for Early Childhood, highlighted the emphasis the Danes place on the importance of childhood and playing freely away from panicky parents. 

Here, they actively want their children to enjoy being children and be able to play indoors and outdoors all day long. They start school aged six but nothing in their PISA scores suggests that this approach is failing them. In fact, they are much higher up the scale than the schoolified US and UK.  Matt quoted the great Sir Ken Robinson who reminded us that a 3-year-old is not half a 6-year-old, right?   

To hear about the other countries and discover the huge funding crisis in the US, the shift in Government expectations in Denmark and the sheer size of certain church groups in Germany which run the kindergartens, you will have to listen to the full podcast. 

Do you know the difference between digitalisation and digitisation?  It’s a subtle difference but it is significant in terms of the outcome. We digitalise tasks to make them simpler like using programmes on iPads to capture observations with a Grammarly, checking to correct the write ups. Digitisation is taking something in the real world and making it digital for the sake of making it digital. Like trying to have a programme to record fridge temperatures which would be done ten times quicker by just writing it on a sheet of paper and pinning it to the fridge. The warning here is to understand the difference and don’t cause yourself more aggravation by complicating a task that is better on paper or using digitalisation to raise parents’ expectations. You end up a slave to your iPad, failing to see what’s happening around you because you are bent over the iPad writing up what has happened earlier! 

Finally, I asked Matt about AI (Artificial Intelligence) because I know he is exploring how to use it more efficiently and I am learning more and more about it so I can use it sensibly, and not be scared of it. I suggested he might consider developing some webinars about using Chat GPT which I think would be rather helpful. 

In a world that is now undeniably digital, with disruptive technologies arriving at breakneck speed and continually changing how we live and work, the need to stay connected and collaborative has never been greater. This not only makes us more productive and efficient when done correctly, it allows us the time to focus on what matters. 

Click to listen