In our previous post on Attachment, we touched briefly upon parent partnerships and how these support the attachment process with the children, as well as supporting the children’s learning and development whilst in the setting. Here we will look more in depth at what we do as a setting to develop strong and lasting partnerships with our parents and how these partnerships benefit the children.
As a home-based childcare setting, we are exceptionally lucky to be able to build strong and lasting partnerships with all of the parents in our setting. We are lucky in the sense that our environment is relaxing and inviting, stepping into someone’s home gives a sense of familiarity; in contrast to the hustle and bustle of a busy day nursery/preschool. Similarly, our home-based set-up allows parents to feel like they are able to spend more time in the setting; either at drop-off or pick-up, discussing their child’s day, joining us for snack/tea time or just staying for a cup of tea and a chat.
Whilst we maintain professional partnerships with our parents, it is important to us that our parents find us approachable, friendly and welcoming, which we manage to achieve by our relaxed and inviting demeanour. Parent partnerships are of the utmost importance to us as when both the setting and parents are working together to support the child, this consistency enables the child to grow, learn and develop more effectively than if partnerships were not developed effectively.
We encourage parents to take an active role in not only their child’s learning at home, but also within the setting. We do this in a number of ways:
- Our ‘Lending Library’ – a system whereby our children aged 3+ are invited to borrow a book from our collection to read at home with their parents – included in the pack is the child’s book of choice, a card for parents detailing different ways the story can be used and the learning objectives that can be covered, and a reading log that the parent completes outlining how the child used the book (for example, “Re-told the story using the illustrations”). This simple activity really promotes the importance of early reading for children and develops a link between not only between the parent and child, but also the parent and the setting as they develop an understanding of the EYFS curriculum and the types of activities we do to meet these learning outcomes.
- ‘Borrow Bags’ – these bags each contain an activity relevant for each age group (under 2’s, 2 year olds, 3-4 year olds) the bags once again contain a card outlining the activity to the parent, the learning objectives that may be covered as well as all of the resources they will need to complete the activity with their child at home.
- We send home termly summaries of the child’s learning; including a written report detailing the child’s progression in each area of learning, their progress tracker (generated from their online learning journal) a copy of their next steps and a ‘Parent Feedback’ form which asks the parents for feedback on their child’s learning, feedback on new skills and interests at home and anything they would like us to support them within the setting.
- Our ‘Baby Sign’ booklet is frequently borrowed by parents who wish to practice this communication tool at home with their child to support communication and language development alongside the ‘Baby Sign’ sessions we incorporate into our routines.
- Parents are invited into the setting frequently for events, celebrations and to stay and play with their child in addition to joining us on outings too.
- We have recently developed a “School Readiness Guide” for parents which explains what exactly that term means and how parents can ensure their child is equipped with the necessary skills.
Communication is key to developing long-lasting bonds with parents and families in our opinion and we use a variety of different communication methods to communicate effectively with our parents; each child under 18 months has their own communication book where the child’s food, milk, toileting and sleep information is recorded in addition to a brief synopsis of their day. Parents also use these books to share any information from home too. In addition to this written communication which is given to the parents at the end of the child’s session, we also use WhatsApp the instant messaging platform to share photos of the child’s day during their session.
Using mobile devices is a controversial topic within Early Years due to Safeguarding concerns, however in a home-based childcare setting this method of communication is used professionally and sensitively (with photos being uploaded to a password protected laptop at the end of each day and deleted from our devices) and is warmly received and encouraged by parents who say;
“I love the use of WhatsApp as part of O’s day. It’s so convenient, I can see it on the go, I don’t have to wait until I collect her to find out what she’s been doing all day. I can be prepared for her bad mood having been told about it earlier via the group message and this allows me to plan my pick up based on the information I’ve received during the day; for example if I know she hasn’t slept, I know to pop to the shops before collecting. It’s the tiny things like that, that literally make an enormous difference. Communication is key in my opinion and WhatsApp makes me feel like we are a dream team!” – Hannah Mayes – Parent of O.
“I really like the WhatsApp group – it makes me feel connected to what the children are doing whilst I’m at work. I love seeing what activities they are up to in real time and seeing them interacting with the other children; so you get a full picture of how they are spending their day and who they are with. It’s particularly good for me as I tend not to do drops offs/pick ups, so I don’t have to rely on Si or the children for a handover. Another plus, is it makes handovers easier, as you know what they’ve done so you don’t need a lengthy handover.
I also like the 2 way conversation and how you use the group to allow the children to communicate with us. I also like that my parents are in the group and can see what the children are doing too. I think the use of WhatsApp builds trust because of the transparency, and from a parents point of view it’s great that you are being open and communicating throughout the day, sharing funny moments and achievements. It’s very inclusive and makes me as a mum feel part of my children’s day; and part of the Pebbles family.” – Laura Anderson – Parent of F & M.
As with our ethos on the attachments we develop with the children, we pride ourselves on encompassing the parents into our extended family feeling within the setting, and develop not only professional partnerships but these close bonds allow us to form a friendship with each of our parents, which enables us to become a trusted and respected part of each child’s life on a personal scale that cannot be achieved or mathced within other types of Early Years provisions.