In today’s modern society, when parents are often working full-time (and subsequently short on time!) it’s not uncommon for their children to be placed in childcare for up to 50 hours a week. More often than not, your setting is the prime provider of early years education for these children. This, of course, is in contrast to years gone by when children would mainly learn the about the world – and their place in it – through conversations, play activities and routines with parents and families in a home environment.
By working in collaboration with parents, you can enhance children’s learning and development in ways that would not be possible without them. By working in collaboration with parents, you can enhance children’s learning and development in ways that would not be possible without them. A ‘partnership approach’ of sharing information to improve the children’s learning outcomes can prove really valuable in the long term.
What are the benefits of parents and childcare practitioners working together?
- It gives parents a better understanding of how you are helping to prepare their children for success in school.
- Parents learn how well their children are progressing in developing the building blocks of learning.
- Parents learn ways to help their children at home.
- You will have a better understanding of children’s backgrounds and experiences.
- Children will see that the adults in their life care about them, and their learning and development.
When parents see you make the effort and involve them in the day-to-day education of their children, they can feel valued and respected, they become aware of their children’s experiences outside the family home and can then use this information to support their learning and development more effectively by reinforcing these experiences at home.
It works both ways too: practitioners can benefit from parents’ skills and expertise, they can gain a better understanding of the children in their setting and use this information to make learning more enjoyable and rewarding for all children. After all, the parents are the experts on their own children and so their feedback is invaluable!
With increasing emphasis on, and changes to EYFS, parents care more than ever about the education path of their child and we know they want to engage.
When you engage with parents, you automatically build a stronger “practitioner-family” partnership. This, in turn, leads to a better understanding of the child, increased feedback from parents on how things are going and ultimately, a happier and more successful learning experience for the child.
You could suggest new ways that parents can get involved and support their child’s learning at home, for example: when they are reading a bedtime story, they can ask their child to make predictions about what will happen next. This will help strengthen the child’s reading comprehension and reinforce their reading ability.
Communication is key!
Keep parents up-to-date as much as possible with what’s going on in your setting and what events or other activities are coming up. If you produce a newsletter, you could suggest conversation topics so parents can ask their children about what they’re learning and then this learning can continue at home, after the event. Even if you only produce a short newsletter, it’s really important to thank parents for all the ways they’re currently helping your setting and how this is impacting on the lives of the children.
A good way to engage parents and make them part of your extended learning team is to make your passion shine through – enthusiasm is contagious and parents will want to continue their child’s learning at home if they see how engaged you are!
Cutting through the barriers
Busy lives, financial worries, language barriers and time pressures are just some of the obstacles practitioners can be faced with which hinder the development of an open, honest and trusting relationship with parents. However, parents really do want to hear from you… they do want to get involved with their children’s learning outside your setting.
A great way to communicate a child’s learning journey with their parents and carers is by sending updates that bring the learning to life. What parent wouldn’t love an update from you that includes a picture that catches their child in the act of learning something? If parents understand and are excited by the value of an activity, they are more likely to continue the learning at home and also provide feedback that you can use for future staff training.
Engage and educate with family learning
Here are a few examples of family learning which can easily be started in the childcare setting and then continued and extended at home:
- Family history and culture sharing Demonstrating what a ‘family tree’ is can encourage the children to talk about where they come from – they can work at home to make their own family tree and share it with the others at their childcare setting.
- Extended storytime During storytime, they can learn about different cultures and then discuss at home and bring something in which relates to their particular surroundings – e.g. a pebble from the beach where they live, or a leaf from a walk in the woods, or something that symbolises their particular culture.
- Counting the pennies Playing ‘shop keepers’ at nursery can easily be put into practice while out shopping with family. Counting coins and pointing out groceries is an excellent example of fun, family learning.
If you would like to find out how the team at Parenta works in partnership with thousands of settings, helping them to engage with parents, involving them with their children’s day-to-day learning, talk to us about ‘Dayshare’ – an online daily diary software. Dayshare captures all of the day’s activities and allows you to upload photos and give parents a detailed insight into their child’s day of learning through play.
Call us on 0800 002 9242 or email firstname.lastname@example.org