Parents play a central role in making decisions about their child’s care and, in order to help achieve good outcomes for children, practitioners must strive to build a strong and positive relationship with them. This partnership becomes most successful when based on clear two-way communication, where both parties value and support the input of the other in helping to nurture the child’s learning and development.
With this in mind, here are 7 top tips to strengthen your relationship with parents:
1. Ask parents to participate in decisions
Whenever possible, invite parents to participate in decisions which affect not only their child, but the setting as a whole. For example, what charity should your nursery support this year? What trips should you carry out this term? How should you spend a grant to improve the resources at your setting? Give parents the information they need to form an opinion, listen to their input and feed back on the decision you’ve reached.
2. Communicate often
Provide parents with as much information as possible about what’s going on in your setting and what exciting events are coming up in your calendar. In your newsletter, you could even suggest conversation points so parents can ask their children about what they’re learning: “Ask your child to tell you what they learnt this week about hatching chicks.”
3. Ensure language is no barrier
If you can’t speak a parent’s native language and their grasp of English is weak, seek the services of someone in the community who can act as a translator when you have meetings together. Although language can be a difficult barrier to overcome, it will mean the world to parents that you’re doing whatever you can to connect with them in this way.
4. Learn their names
It sounds obvious, but find out how parents like to be addressed (Mrs. Smith, Catherine, Cathy) and take the time to learn how to pronounce their names correctly. There are few things more insulting than repeatedly calling someone by the wrong name, even if it’s done accidentally!
5. Try not to make assumptions
Be careful not to make assumptions about parents’ lifestyles. For example, don’t assume a mother is, or isn’t, married or even that she’s married to a man! Ask open-ended questions to get the information you need to confirm what you do (or don’t) know. This will save having to have an embarrassing conversation later on and potentially getting off on the wrong foot!
6. Invite parents to share their skills, culture or traditions
Give out a survey at the beginning of the year to find out what skills, knowledge and interests parents have. With this information, you’re armed with a wealth of resources which could tie in neatly with the themes you’re exploring at your setting. Many parents would be thrilled to be asked into the setting to speak with the children about something they’re specifically learning about.
7. Thank them for their involvement
In your newsletter, thank parents for all the ways they’re currently helping your setting and how this is impacting on the lives of the children. You could also suggest ways they can get involved and support their child’s learning at home, for example: “When you’re reading a bedtime story, ask your child to make predictions about what will happen next. This will help strengthen your child’s reading comprehension.”
Want parents to feel more closely connected with their child? Talk to us about Dayshare, online daily dairy software which will give parents a detailed insight into their child’s day.