17th September 2020 All Posts

Connect Childcare interviews Jan Dubiel: Part 1

Shining the spotlight on parental engagement in the Early Years sector

With the nation slowly recovering from months of lockdown, there has never been a better time to look at the role parental engagement plays in narrowing child development gaps.

For the past few months, home-schooling was a part of people’s everyday lives, parental involvement is the thing that drove children’s education outside of the traditional classroom setting. So, it should not be overlooked.

Coincidentally, we recently chatted to Early Years expert, Jan Dubiel, about this very topic. Here, we share his thoughts, as well as our own…

Parents are key to successful child development

In our interview, Jan outlined that the research is extensive on parental influence in EY education, and how this is a critical factor in not only youngsters’ ‘here and now’ but throughout the course of their lives.

He mentioned the ‘Achieving Against the Odds’ study – which looks at educational attainment and its link to social mobility – and explained how active, supportive parenting makes a massive difference to a child’s engagement and overall life chances.

“The home-learning environment has the biggest single impact.”

This is an interesting point and given that home-learning has the biggest single impact on child development, this should unarguably be at the front and centre of the EY sector’s policies and learning strategies. 

And we believe that while bridging the gap between practitioner and parent is vital for the infant, it’s also advantageous for the guardian – bringing them closer to their little ones – and the nursery staff. Why? Because they will feel the learning then extends outside the classroom and builds upon their foundations. After all, children learn seven days per week, not just Monday to Friday.

“We need to make sure that that engagement with parents remains a core feature of what we do, it will vitally change children’s life chances.”


What are some of the key hopes for the EY sector’s future?

Of course, the power of foresight is a wonderful thing, but in truth no one knows what the coming months and years hold for EY education.

In our interview with Jan, the undercurrent of his hopes was around staff confidence. He explained how he hoped to see practitioners feeling much more empowered and assured in their abilities, and proud of their professionalism.

He continued to explore the idea that one tension among EY specialists often arises because they second guess what they think they are supposed to do – instead of believing in their views and making choices based on their knowledge and expertise. Internalising the curriculum, decision-making and social interaction are all crucial components within EY educators’ daily responsibilities, so it’s about trusting more in their own intuition and aptitude.

When looking at how EY experts can boost this level of confidence, it involves taking the time to access CPD and additional qualifications, carrying out those deep internal reflections, and above all being proud and proactive about the important role they play in child development.

We agree with Jan and feel that there is also a link here with staff fulfilment and wellbeing. It has long been reported that EY practitioners fight for time to complete all of the tasks in any given day, and we hope that nurseries come to embrace digital even more as the years progress. Now’s the time to recognise the amount of admin time it can save employees, so that they then have more opportunities to dedicate to the most important area of their job – child development.

“I would like to see a confident workforce across the board. I’d like to see practitioners and educators who are really proud about their professionalism, and confident and positive to take decisions they know are right for children.”

Jan’s final comments looked at his desire for everyone – not solely education professionals – across the country to understand EY, including how children learn and early neuroscience. And we agree with this. Once society understands why we work with children the way we do and what are the things that really matter in a child’s learning journey, that’s when there will be increased support and progression within the industry.

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About the Author

Connect Childcare have been developing purpose built nursery management software for the past 15 years. Their missions is: To develop management software that improves the lives of children, globally.