The ABC of Child Care series of posts aims to illustrate for parents what quality child care looks like in practice and aims to be both a tool for parents looking for child care for the first time and as a resource for all parents with children in care. I believe we all share a responsibility to ask questions and expect results when it comes to the environment and people caring for and educating our youngest and most impressionable citizens.
Strong family-centre relationships have the advantage of enhancing learning and development outcomes for the children in care as parents and educators are easily able to work together for the benefit of the child.
What is the best way to achieve positive family-centre relationships?
Effective communication is;
- Open and honest.
- Respectful: this works both ways. Centre educators should respect you as a parent and expert about your own child. At the same time, you should show staff respect as the people employed to care for and educate groups of young children.
- Two way: this means speaking and listening. We are often good at speaking but not so good at listening!
- Friendly: enter into friendly conversation with your child’s educator regularly as a way of keeping the lines of communication open. Show interest in them as people. Though realise, if you choose to arrive 2 minutes before closing time every day, this can be unrealistic as Centre staff have homes to go to and families to see too as well.
- Solution focused: if there is a problem, try to be calm and offer constructive feedback or suggestions in an effort to find a solution which suits everyone.
- Show gratitude regularly: most child care centre staff are there because they find great joy in working with families and children. They certainly aren’t there for the money or prestige. Wherever possible show your gratitude by taking the time to say, ‘thank you.’
In my experience, being friendly and positive with centre staff results in much better results for both the family and the centre. I remember one mother who was bossy, domineering and often downright rude to staff when talking with them about her daughter’s care. This made the staff feel very uncomfortable with her and hindered the family-centre relationship as staff tended to avoid talking to her, which only made the whole cycle of ineffective communication stronger and harder for everyone involved to deal with.
As well as utilising face to face contact with Centre staff, parents should also take advantage of the multitude of ways the centre communicates information about the children’s experiences in the program;
- By ensuring that they read newsletters and other information sent home,
- Looking at any documentation of children’s work displayed throughout the centre,
- Allowing time when collecting their child to read about their experiences of the day,
- Being involved in centre events,
- Contributing to the program, centre resources, decision making and policy formulation when your help is asked for.
For more about ways parents can contribute to creating positive relationships with their child care centre, check out my previous post, Creating Learning Communities.
I would love to hear about your experiences communicating with educators/carers at your children’s child care centres (both good and bad!) and am happy to answer any further questions you may have. Just leave a comment below.
- The ABC of Child Care: A is for Ambiance
- The ABC of Child Care: B is for Behaviour
- Learning Through Play