Strengthening relationships with families has positive impacts on children, family members, educators, and overall program outcomes.
Families are their children’s first teachers. However, some parents may not be completely confident or have a deep understanding of child development and developmentally appropriate practices that educators receive through schooling and years of experience. By working together, family members and program staff can create learning environments and expectations (both at home and in the early learning space) that fit the needs of each child in the program.
While family members learn new ways of supporting their young learners, educators strengthen their cultural competence as they interact with diverse families with unique needs. This means that families are able to capitalize on more learning opportunities at home and teachers develop skills necessary to work effectively with diverse populations.
Teachers act as a link to the community services that families may require. These range from early intervention programs to medical and social service agencies. These services provide resources, education, and support that can strengthen children and families. In some cases, these service providers can partner with programs to deliver services within the child care facility, as is often done with early intervention services. Staff members gain valuable knowledge and skills through interactions with these special educators and therapists.
Programs benefit from this unified force advocating for high-quality care and living wage initiatives at the state and even national level. Programs with strong family engagement also benefit from the word of mouth marketing that families provide as they share their positive experiences with other members of the community.
Strong family engagement has been shown to have positive outcomes for children as well. Researchers have linked higher language acquisition, stronger social emotional skills, and overall improved school readiness to family engagement initiatives. In older children, family engagement is linked to better attendance and graduation rates.
Early education is the perfect time to create strong relationships with families and help them establish the engagement habits that can follow the child through elementary school and beyond.
For the main article on Planning for Family Engagement, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Goals of Family Engagement Initiatives, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Family Engagement Reflection Tool for Staff, CLICK HERE.
For the article on Director’s Corner Family Engagement Competencies for Supervisors, CLICK HERE.