Parents and carers play an integral role in a child’s early education.
Parents and caregivers are a child’s primary educator and so the value of their knowledge of their child, the opportunities and experiences they provide and the influence they have on their child’s learning and development journey should not be underestimated.
Many settings report difficulties in striking a balance with parental involvement and parent partnerships, but the most important thing to remember when developing these partnerships with parents, is that communication is key to these relationships and partnerships.
Without basic communication and open conversations with the parents of the children in your setting, partnerships will be unable to be developed and maintained.
It is of equal importance that as practitioners we adopt the same individual approach to our relationships and partnerships with parents as we do for the children we care for and their individual needs and learning styles.
Each parent we meet will have a different approach to parenting, their child’s learning, their level of involvement and will also respond differently to different types of communication. When we initially meet these parents we must ensure we get to know each parent as best we can to enable us to develop a partnership, but also to ensure that partnership is communicated and maintained in a way that suits the parent and their individual needs and circumstances.
If we are unable to establish these partnerships from the outset with the parents of children in our care, then it can be difficult to develop these as time goes on and so we must endeavour to engage parents as early as possible, but also in a non-intimidating, condescending way.
The benefits of strong parent partnerships are unrivalled.
If parents are engaging in their child’s learning and development during their time in the setting and and have good, open relationships and communication with the child’s key people, then children will see their learning as an intertwined journey between home and setting, rather than the two as separate entities.
Similarly, when a child witnesses their parents engaged and interested in their learning and development and day to day activities of the setting, this promotes a positive correlation between the setting.
Without strong parent partnerships, as practitioners, we may miss out on key information about the child, their experiences, circumstance and significant changes and updates that could be pivotal in a child’s life that could impact upon a child’s engagement and learning and development within the setting.
Parents need to feel respected, valued and able to communicate and share sensitive and potentially tricky information and events to us as the child’s key people. Without trust, respect and open lines of communication between home/setting, we will lack the knowledge, understanding and skills necessary to support both the child and their family effectively.
The importance of these partnerships with children’s parents and primary caregivers and the holistic approach to each family as individuals is essential in meeting the needs of the child’s whole family, in turn providing the child with the most effective, engaging and nurturing learning environment, efficiently supporting their learning and development with their parents as partners in their learning journey.