Success and effective schools are known for implementing and maintaining strong relationships with families. However, trust between home and school is built over time. Families need to feel valued and that their opinions are important, and relationships are sensitive to family composition, language, and culture. Each home/school relationship has a beginning stage, a maintenance stage and an ending stage. Each of these stages has unique opportunities, strategies, responsibilities… and pitfalls. The Beginning Stage requires the teacher to establish her credibility as a competent and confident professional. She must set the tone for ongoing collaboration and outline the specific goals, roles and responsibilities of each member of the new partnership. One of the most important elements in establishing a good relationship with a parent is by demonstrating, very early, that the teacher really knows the child. Observation is key. It is a skill that every educator has to nurture and refine. The Maintenance Stage requires the teacher to use ongoing conferencing and communication to continue and enhance the partnership. The Ending Stage brings appropriate closure to the partnership by creative and effective and well-planned transition to the next step in the child’s academic progression.
The teacher must provide the family with encouragement as they face this new step. (Lavoie, 2008) 3 stages of school-home relationships One of the hallmarks of a quality early childhood service is that it works in partnership with parents to provide an environment in which the children are happy, feel they belong, and can develop to their fullest potential. In this environment parents and educators work together to share information and expertise, and to make decisions in order to give children rich experiences across settings. Each recognizes, respects and values what the other does and says. Partnership involves responsibility on both sides. In this booklet, we share several important aspects about school-home communication that you might incorporate into your program.
As partners in their children’s education, parents welcome your input. They hope that you will give insights into their children’s development, social interactions, and learning. Your anecdotes – as often as practical – help them get that sense of partnership and builds the trust needed for that partner relationship to develop. Sharing about the children’s experiences makes them ‘visible’ to the parent, and can help them understand the learning process. Of course, there is so much learning happening, and it would be impossible to share it all. When determining what to share, you might consider: 1. What does the parent want to see that this report can showcase? 2. What message do you feel is important for the parent to see? And then, how might you accomplish both in a single report?
Pictures and videos of the process can say more than many words. At the same time, your short captions and explanations can greatly enrich the parents’ understanding of what is happening. With the ease of cameras on smart phones, you can send a picture or two (or three) to a parent almost daily. And write a longer report weekly. For parents to fully grasp the type of learning in your program, you might include a report or anecdote that focuses on the current project, in addition to the ‘week in review’ short summary of many things that were done during the week. Naps, diapers, feedings, meals, snacks WITHPARENTS SHARING “Ask me about” prompts for parent-child discussions Reminders of upcoming events Pictures and videos of group activities. And cute pictures of their own child. Developmental milestone reached (or observations of concerns). What items need to be sent to school. Anecdotes or cute things their child said or did