A parent touring the child care centre I managed once commented, “Everyone seems to know each other. At my centre no one seems to talk to anyone. Everyone is so friendly here.”
What does your child care centre/preschool/kindergarten feel like when you drop your child off? Is it friendly? Welcoming? Do educators greet each child and parent? By name? Every day?
This was a golden rule in our centre. Every member of our little learning community was welcomed by educators every day. This might seem like such a small thing but it is the foundation for forming a learning community where all members of the community feel valued – children, parents, and educators.
Strong family-educator partnerships are great for our children. They;
- Enhance social and educational outcomes for children,
- Enhance the effectiveness of communication between the Centre and home,
- Provide opportunity for the Centre to benefit from the diversity of families,
- Provide the Centre with a broader resource base from which to draw learning opportunities
- Enhance family member’s understanding of the Centre’s philosophy, program and routine,
- Enhance family member’s understanding of the nature and value of early education programs, and
- Enhance a sense of community spirit and cohesion.
I believe effective partnerships between parents and educators require regular open and honest communication, genuine trust and understanding, and a commitment to working towards shared goals in relation to the child.
So as parents with children in a child care centre or early learning program consider;
- Do you communicate verbally with educators on a daily basis?
- Are you provided with regular, written information about your child’s participation in the program? This may take the form of a daily class diary, an individual learning portfolio, documentation displayed in the classroom or a regular newsletter.
- Are there opportunities for parents to be involved in the learning program or other Centre events and celebrations?
- Are you, as the parent, asked about your child’s interests and individual development? Are their avenues for you to have input into your child’s learning?
- Does the centre facilitate information sessions about the program, early childhood education and other topics relevant to children and families?
- Does the centre maintain a Family Resource Library with pamphlets, brochures and resource books from community resources, representing topics relevant to children and families?
- Do you take time to read, reflect upon and value the information which you are provided by the Centre?
- Do you take time to tell your child’s educators about their interests and activities outside of the Centre?
- Do you think of the adults who care for your child as educators rather than child minders?
- Where you have questions about the Centre, the program or your child’s involvement, do you speak to educators openly and request more information as necessary?
- Do you offer your time, your experience or resources from home where you see that they relate to the what the children are learning?
We all share responsibility for creating these open, honest learning communities for our children. Children will then have the opportunity to observe respectful, trusting relationships between all of the adults who care for them; the centre will feel like an extension of home and the educators like members of the extended family.
What can you do to create a greater sense of community for your child? To forge links with your child’s learning community?
Read more of the Understanding Emergent Curriculum series;