Consistency and predictability are important for brain development. The more consistent and predictable a child’s life is, the more likely he or she will succeed academically. As such, it makes sense to collaborate with families so that children hear the same messages at home and at school. Collaboration in early childhood care and education increases consistency.
Parents as Partners
When parents learn that they are partners in their children’s education, they tend to respond positively. It is not enough to simply tell them to be involved; they must take an active role in their children’s education. A great way to involve parents in collaboration for early childhood development is to create an interest-inventory to learn more about them. Then, you can create opportunities for parents to visit the classroom. Perhaps a parent can bring in a favorite childhood book to share with the students. Maybe a parent would like to teach the students to make puppets or bake bread. When children see their parents participating in and enjoying school, it can improve their feelings toward school.
Barriers to Parent Collaboration and How to Break Them Down
Different Child-Rearing Values
When parents expect children to be quiet around adults, they may find that the early childhood care and education model that requires children to express their opinions contradicts their wishes. Teachers can schedule family nights to share how purposeful-but-respectful discussion is important to learning and the development of self.
Different Socioeconomic, Educational and Linguistic Backgrounds
All of these differences may begin as barriers, but teachers should consider them opportunities to diversify learning and embrace difference. Inviting parents to share their cultures or languages or rituals can be a powerful experience for everyone.
Different Schooling Experiences and Expectations
Many parents had terrible experiences in school and felt demoralized instead of excited in the classroom. These parents need extra care before they will feel supported and welcomed into the classroom. When schools and families collaborate, they create a community that fosters academic and social success. The earlier collaboration for early childhood education begins, the better families and children will feel about school long-term.
Different Views on Children’s Development
It is not uncommon for families to think of their children as either too young to be independent or, conversely, to consider them mini-adults. Both views can inhibit success. Teachers who share developmental milestones and how to help children grow can give families peace at home. Realizing that mismatched expectations between parents and children can be the culprit behind behavioral problems helps everyone understand the school-home balance.
Causes of Miscommunication in Early Childhood Care and Education
Often, calling a parent to communicate about their child is one of the best ways to collaborate, but there are two main causes of miscommunication between parents and teachers. One cause is judgment — when the parent or the teacher judges the other. It is difficult to understand why people do the things they do without walking in their shoes, but if both parties assume the best, effective communication is more likely.
The other cause is dumping, when the parent or the teacher calls the other to essentially dump a problem on the other person. Sharing the problem without confrontation improves any situation.
Early childhood care and education improves when all parties act in the children’s best interests instead of their own. The more parents and teachers collaborate, the better the experience will be for everyone.