December 2023 Newsletter – Practices that Support Healthy Development: Build Strong Relationships with Families

Build Strong Relationships with Families

It has long been said that families are children’s first teachers, and therefore, our partners in supporting the developmental needs of children. If an educator is unable to form partnerships with families, they will likely struggle to address challenges and provide the best possible care for young children. If common ground cannot be reached between educators and families, especially those with opposing views, little progress can be made toward goals, potentially impacting children’s development.

Family involvement requires a substantial investment of time and energy from program employees from the top down. It is more than planning a carnival and expecting everyone to show up. Families will reciprocate the investment that they perceive from the program. This investment starts with the daily interactions that occur between families and every member of the team. When these interactions are positive, respectful, honest, and informative, the door to deeper engagement opens a bit.

Here are a few other strategies to consider:

  • Learn more about family values, parenting approaches, communication styles, and children’s home experiences. This must be done in a nonjudgmental manner, which can be challenging if you have opposing views. For example, your feelings about corporal punishment may conflict with a family’s practices. Regardless, to support the child and effectively communicate different child guidance strategies that the family will receive and try, you must maintain open and receptive communication. Once you have a better understanding of the family, you will be able to frame challenging conversations in a way that meets families where they are.
  • Ensure consistent communication using home language and translation whenever possible. This may require the use of translators for both written and verbal communication.
  • Share resources while honoring the family as the child’s first teacher. While it may be the case that ECE professionals have more formal education and training related to child development and teaching, it does not mean they know what is best for each child and family. It is important to balance your expertise with your efforts to partner with families. Position yourself as a resource, invite families to reach out to you, and ask families if they would like more information. When sharing information, consider sharing it with all of the families in your group, rather than singling out one family. Share with excitement by saying something like, “I just found an article that made me think about biting in a new light! I hope you find this information helpful.”
  • Build opportunities for family engagement that meet families where they are. Participating in at-home learning, assessments/conferences, family committees, chaperoning, class volunteering, and advocacy efforts are all options. However, not all options will be feasible for every family. Work with your team to identify outside-of-the-box opportunities for families to get involved in their child’s learning and the program in general.

 

For the main article Build Strong Relationships with Families, CLICK HERE

For the article Serve and Return, CLICK HERE

For the article Build Resilience, CLICK HERE

For the article Strengthening Cultural Responsiveness, CLICK HERE