29 Aug 2012

Parents as Partners

No Comments Early Childhood Education, Parenting

TRUST

They bring their child to me
And hope I’ll come to know,
How much their offspring means to them,
Their trust in me bestowed.

They bring their child to me
With love and hope and pride,
Looking for a helping hand,
And a teacher who will guide.

They bring their child to me
And our partnership is clear:
To nurture and allow to bloom
A life we both hold dear.

They bring their child to me
A step toward letting go,
And trusting in our special plan
To help the child grow.

by Gloria Weber Henbest

 

I received the above poem from a member of the Reggio Group that I belong to. We’ve been talking over the last few days about infant programs and the importance of forming relationships with parents in infant care programs. Although parent involvement is always important, regardless of the age group, I think special emphasis needs to be placed on the role of the parent in infant and toddler programs.

This is often a family’s first encounter with child care, be it centre or home-based care. It is even likely that child care will be the first time the child has been cared for by someone other than the parents. You, the caregiver, are a complete stranger and they are in a position where they have to give you their baby and trust that you will care for their child and nurture their child just as well as they would. That’s a hard thing. One that’s incredibly hard where you are still getting to know your child and their likes and dislikes, when they are learning and developing at such a rapid rate that you can barely keep track of all the new things they are doing and when they are at an age where they can’t come home and tell you all about their day, so you can share in their experiences.

Early Childhood Educators (ECE) and parents should be partners. The lines of communications should be wide open, with the ECEs sharing the goings-on in the child care environment, sharing specific things the children do each day and asking questions to learn about the children and their families. Similarly, parents should feel comfortable asking about their child and sharing their own stories from evenings and weekends, sharing their children’s accomplishments and asking any questions they might have about the centre or their child or even parenting in general. It should be a community. After all, it takes a village to raise a child.

In my years in the field, I have developed many wonderful relationships with the children that I’ve cared for, and I’ve also developed many wonderful relationships with the parents of those children. Some of whom I am still in contact with to this day. Those relationships have made my work more meaningful and I am glad that I took the time to partner with parents, because it made a difference for me, for those parents and most important of all, it made a difference to those children.

I hope this will inspire you to think about how you partner with the parents in your programs as well.

 

Photo from FamilyMWR on Flickr.

written by
A registered Early Childhood Educator and former President of the Halton Branch of the Association for Early Childhood Educators of Ontario.
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