You’ve heard the saying in retail settings that the customer is always right. The question is, does this mantra apply in an Early Childhood Education and Care setting? Is the family always right?
This is such a tricky dynamic in the Early Childhood Education and Care setting – when the expectations of families, community, Early Childhood Educators and Early Learning Centre Directors don’t always align the same way. So if you don’t have an alignment of expectations – what can you do and expect?
Without a common set of goals for all parties involved, relationships just can’t be set and maintained for the betterment of everyone. So first things first, you need to establish some set goals, guidelines, and steps to achieve these within the centre and with families. Ask the questions of families and children, what is it that you would like to happen in the Early Childhood Education and Care setting? What do you think happens each and every day? Sometimes families, especially if it’s their first child and they don’t have a lot of support around them, will have very little concept of what actually happens in a day. They only have the mindset of “I must secure care for my child so I have the option to return to work, study, household time.”
As you know the Early Years Learning Framework tells us – “Educators practices and the relationships they form with children and families have a significant effect on children’s involvement and success in learning. Children thrive when families and educators work together in partnership to support young children’s learning”. So relationship building and sustaining must take place!
Steps To Build and Sustain Relationship with Parents and Families
- Work our common goals
- Be transparent in information sharing about the early learning centre.
- Ensure the orientation to the centre contains all the important information- check-in if there are more questions. No question is ever a silly one.
- Start conversations by talking about the common interest you share together- the child/children!
- Set Up Information Evenings for Families to come along and ask more questions- engage community experts as well to share knowledge on topical areas
- Ask for families to be involved in the centre on a regular basis – volunteering in the classroom, working bees on weekends
- Send out surveys and ask for feedback and then take this on board in a constructive manner
- Support and understand that families may be going through more than they let on – everyone has lives outside of what you see visually at drop-offs and pickups!
- Don’t take things too personally or to heart, if not every engagement with a family isn’t all smiles and rainbows!
- Don’t forget too – everyone in the relationship is HUMAN and doing the best they can each and every day – families included!
It takes time to build relationships in your personal and professional life – so ensure you allow time for these to grow – but once you have strong positive relationships with families and community- your reputation as Educators and Centres will be second to none, and your invaluable contribution to the industry recognised.
**For more useful ideas – TEG has a PD video for Educators also with helpful tools to use – be sure to sign up below and check this out!**