Open and positive communication between educators and parents is essential to get the best out of childcare and schooling for children.
Communication is important to gain a full understanding of a child’s development and experiences. It also provides support to parents by offering ideas and information that can help them make decisions about their child’s care and education.
Early Childhood Australia believes that everyone can benefit from communication, particularly the child. It gives the parents and educator a complete picture of the child’s experience in both their home and childcare setting.
Parents often have concerns that their child isn’t behaving in the same way other children are. The educator can use their observation of the child and their experience of the many children they’ve had in their care to offer an insight into the full range of normal and common behaviour.
In the same vein, educators are encouraged to ask parents about aspects of their child’s behaviour in the home if they need further information to understand the child’s personality and unique traits.
In the Raising Children Network’s guide to professionals communicating with parents: the basics the two key factors to positive communication is listening and talking.
- When listening to a parent who is talking to you about their child stopping what you are doing and focus on the conversation.
- Allow them to finish talking and summarise what was said so that they know you both understand the situation in the same way.
- Invite them to elaborate on aspects of the scenario that you are unclear about with open-ended questions so they can explain further.
Talking to families
- The way you talk to a parent will either establish a good partnership or will get them offside. Try not to discuss sensitive matters when you are rushed. Instead, try to arrange a time when you can talk the matter through with the parent and focus on the matter.
- Use ‘I’ messages when discussing issues with the parent, for instance: ‘I feel that Billy should be further along with his reading and I’d like to discuss how we can help him achieve this’.
- Talk about what is presently happening and don’t reference issues from the past. If the issue keeps occurring, move forward with it by aiming to find a solution.
Try to empathise with parents and understand their concerns and remember that you both are striving to create the best experience for the child.