From effective recruitment to keeping educators feeling happy and inspired, working on your NQS Rating, effective marketing and more, there are many elements involved when it comes to building and maintaining a high-quality early childhood education service. A key area to consider is your partnerships with families.
It’s essential to understand the importance of focusing on the relationships you create with families — not just the children in your care, but their parents and carers too.
Research suggests that enhancing family engagement with children’s experience in early childhood education enhances children’s development and wellbeing. By strengthening the relationship between early learning services and families, we can also improve children’s outcomes.
Creating effective relationships with families: benefits
The benefits of fostering solid working relationships with families of children at your service can be far-reaching. Taking the time to develop and foster partnerships with families and carers has advantages for all involved in the early childhood education experience.
Let’s take a look at some of the benefits that you might notice in services with positive family/service relationships.
Benefits for children
- Enhanced feelings of safety and belonging
- Comfortable and positive relationships with their carers
- Positive relationships with other children
- Engaged in learning experiences
- Calmer transitions
Benefits for families
- Actively involved in children’s education and care
- Understanding of and commitment to children’s development
- Continuity of learning in the home
- Increased family wellbeing
- High levels of advocacy within and for the service
Benefits for early learning services
- A positive learning environment
- A positive working environment
- Reduced staff turnover
- Improved outcomes for children
- Families as service advocates
Building partnerships with families to meet the Quality Standard
As well as the benefits listed, early childhood education services who focus on their relationships with families will also have the opportunity to enhance their NQS Rating. Quality Area 6 of the National Quality Framework is Collaborative partnerships with families and communities.
This Quality Area recognises just how crucial it is for centres to have strong, collaborative relationships with children’s parents and carers to get the very best outcomes for children. Elements cover the development of respectful relationships, supporting parents in their own role, informing families and sharing information, and including families in decision-making for their children’s learning.
How you can achieve positive family partnerships
Every family should feel welcome, safe and connected with your early childhood education service. Your service should provide a sense of community – one that families feel they belong to and are an active participant within. After all, families and educators share the same vision for the children attending the service to feel nurtured and engage in learning experiences that help them reach their fullest potential.
So how can you achieve this, and build those relationships? These tips will help:
- Keep communication open and regular: Ensuring families are in the know with everything going on at the service and with their child’s learning will help them to feel included in their child’s early childhood education experience. Emails, video group call sessions, newsletters — try a few different means of communication to ensure you cover all bases.
- Share current learning themes: Continuing learning from within services through to homes can enhance a child’s engagement, education and outcomes. Let parents know the words to songs that are being sung at the service, fill them in on what explorations have been undertaken and offer resources to extend on learning in the home.
- Get to know families: Surveys, questionnaires or even just conversations can help you get to know the families at your service, and get to know children better. Send one out each term or a few times a year to ensure you are always aware of family situations, changes and how families might like to be involved with the service.
- Involve families: Sharing cultures, skills and special talents in services is always enjoyable and engaging, but what about if you could involve children’s families? Put a call out to families about what they might be willing to share. It might be their cultural background, a job, musical prowess or a special talent.
- Keep your team of educators inspired: Inspired, empowered educators will feel more inclined to work on their relationships with families. Keep your team upskilling and engaged. This means more confidence in their skillset and an enhanced commitment to being an educator making a difference for children and their families.
- Actively collaborate with families: Working bees, sharing ideas, asking for feedback, getting their input with decisions at the service — let families know they are a part of your early childhood education service’s community and their input is valued.
Exceptional outcomes through collaboration
Families, children, educators and those running early childhood education services should feel connected. They share a vision and mission to provide their children with the best start in life and a strong foundation for their future.
Families trust early childhood educators to support and nurture their children. Working towards effective, meaningful partnerships ensures a sense of mutual respect as we work toward achieving these shared goals.