Friday, 9 March 2012

Parents as partners

Parents as partners and families as a team.............a vital part of child day care.

It is obviously a very good thing to have a good relationship with the children in your care. But, the most essential relationships should begin with the parents and families of the children. Although you see the children sometimes more than the parents do, it is important to remember that they are the child's main carer and bought them into the world, and therefore their opinions and actions count!

A setting should always be welcoming to parents. It should give a warm vibe where parents can feel comfortable leaving their child in your care. They should feel that staff are approachable and be able to recognise who is who within the setting (some settings have a photo wall of staff, like a "who's who!")
It is important to embrace a family's background and interests, which can be a lot of work when you have a lot of children in the setting, but it is worth it to make the parents feel like they belong.

It doesn't stop at the parents either. There are so many grandparents, aunts, uncles and the like who quite often collect the children and play such a big part of their lives. It is therefore important to make the feel as welcome. I have worked in a couple of settings who do not have a Parents board, rather a Family board to place notices. Family days are planned too...........rather than a "mummy morning", the setting could perhaps make sure all female carers are invited to a "ladies morning".

These little things which do not take much to do can make so much difference in beginning to create a solid setting-parent relationship. Parent evenings also allow for you to get to know the parents in order to talk about their child's progress, but I have also worked in setting which have parent evenings with a difference aside from these progress meetings. These different evenings allow the setting to get parents into the building for a different parties, book sellers and pamper parties all work really well. The staff come along and get pampered too, and spend time relaxing with the parents.

Sometimes, relationships with parents can go too far, however. It is really important to keep your relationship with the parents professional. I have made several friendships with parents, but have not really acted on them until the child has moved onto school. I am now in touch with parents whose children I looked after back in the early days of my career, and I get info on how they are doing and get to see them grow up!! Being too attached to parents (and children) from your work can cause a conflict of interest, which can effect your judgement when dealing with matters within the setting. Therefore, it is not really a great idea to be seen going out drinking with parents, for example ( there are a few small exceptions, but it is best to keep things professional!)

There are so many ideas that can be written here about maintaining healthy relationships with parents and families. But i think the main thing to remember is RESPECT. If you respect the parents as their child's main carer, they should respect your role in their child's lives too. If you are friendly and welcoming, and most of all approachable, you have a good basis for developing relationships!

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