Why are Parent Partnerships Important Within the Early Years Sector?
… and why what happens at nursery should not just stay at nursery.
People talk a lot about parental partnerships – but what does this really mean? All early years settings have their own ideas on how to best communicate with parents, as well as their own unique set of ways in which they work with families to keep track of their children’s learning journeys and overall development. Across all nursery settings, working in partnership with parents and carers is an essential element in fulfilling the requirements of the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS).
But what are the barriers that get in the way when seeking successful partnerships with parents? And what can be done to help parents and carers become more involved in their child’s day-to-day learning?
The need for standardisation
Across all types of nursery settings and childcare organisations, there is a need for standardisation in thinking. A parental partnership is about working together to achieve the best possible outcomes for a child, but are there ways in which these objectives could be best achieved if all practitioners worked in similar ways with parents and carers?
There are many types of settings serving diverse families, but there is a need for a sector-wide approach when it comes to keeping parents and caregivers engaged.
Achieving successful parental engagement
Strong parental engagement is central in promoting children’s healthy development and wellbeing. Yet one of the most challenging aspects of managing an early years setting is parents actively engaging with practitioners, to understand more about their child’s education.
As we all know, the demands on parents’ time and attention coupled with varying drop-off and pick-up times on different days means it can sometimes be difficult for families and practitioners to chat face-to-face regularly, and reliably. However, there are other ways your nursery can interact with parents to bolster engagement.
Establishing regular contact — perhaps via an app such as a ParentZone — can supplement in-person interaction, providing a space for important communications, and a record of observations, suggestions, requests and notifications.
New skills that are learnt and nurtured at nursery for example, can and should be extended at home. That might involve sending home activity packs to complement the topics being taught in the Early Years Foundation Stage or setting fun, weekly challenges for parents to complete with their child. There are many ways in which settings can encourage parents to participate in their child’s day-to-day learnings.
Electronic learning journeys
An electronic child learning journey such as Parent Zone can help to create this synergy between what happens at nursery and what happens at home.
A secure and easy-to-use system doesn’t just support real-time communication between nurseries and families, but it also links into the government’s Development Matters Framework for under 5s, which supports and underpins the EYFS curriculum.
For example, an observation logged on ParentZone could be ‘explored paint with fingers’, ‘kicking, throwing and catching a ball’, or ‘scavenger hunt in woods’ — which all tie in with the framework. Such observations act as greater pointers for home-based activities, helping to prompt ideas for family things to do in the early evenings or at weekends, which will aid in extending a child’s learning outside of nursery hours.
Electronic learning journeys provide clear and concise real-time dialogue for parents. They allow for a two way conversation between parents and practitioners, which means no risk of lost messages or reliance on quick conversations during collection times.
Parents can also add commentary and upload photos of their child taking part in activities at home, helping their child’s nursery to extend the learning experience even further and allowing both parties to act as a tag team with the child’s best outcomes as their focus.
The key to a successful partnership
The practitioner-parent partnership can sometimes be complex and hard to navigate. But, the key to ensuring a successful alliance is open and flowing, two-way communication – all focused on achieving each child’s educational, social, and emotional needs.