Posted on 01/23/2012 at 08:01 AM by Global Reach

Often as early childhood staff, we find ourselves conversing with parents about a variety of topics and concerns, such as “Is my child ready for Kindergarten?”, “Why are you not teaching reading?”, “It seems like all you do in this class is play all day.”, and many others.

Most curriculums will talk about the importance of building strong connections with families as a way to work together to support children’s healthy development and learning. Creative Curriculum highlights some important steps that can help early childhood programs build relationships with parents, which are:
   
1.    Get to know families (recognize the differences among families and learn about families over time)
2.    Make families feel welcome (create a welcoming environment, introduce your program to families, build trust, reach out to all members of the child’s family)
3.    Communicate with families (take advantage of informal exchanges, use formal methods of communication-newsletters, notes, emails, and keep families up-to-date about what is happening in your program)
4.    Involve families in the program (offer many ways for families to participate-help make things, go on field trips-, attend conferences, and plan together)
5.    Respond to challenging situations (acknowledge families are under stress, deal with misunderstandings, and help parents understand the goals of your program and why do things)

We need to remember that families have been “teaching their children since birth, so they are already supporting their child’s learning and development.” As their child participates in your program,  you need to recognize the role of the parents and families and build relationships with them. One highlight might be that we assist families in better understanding how children grow, develop and learn, which ultimately strengthens your relationship and supports young children. Often teachers struggle with how to address questions parents have about what they are teaching, how they are using “play”, and will their child be prepared for kindergarten. When we make connections with families and provide resources, which can help them understand how their child develops and how your program is working to help their child develop skills needed in school and life.

Interactions with families can take many forms and use varied strategies. The key or important factor is that you, as the early care and education provider, are working with families! Keep seeking new ways to make connections with families and getting them involved with your program.

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