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The importance of parents in the early years

June 1, 2023
4 minute read

‘Family is the first school for young children, and parents are powerful models’ Alice Sterling Honig

The United Nations made 1st June Global Parents Day, to recognise ‘the selfless commitment that parents make to their children and their lifelong sacrifice to nurturing this relationship’. Parents are partners with us in a child’s learning journey, so it is of vital importance that we communicate and include them in all that we do, nurturing the relationship that we have with them. It goes without saying that when a child arrives at nursery, we welcome not just the child but also the parent, acknowledging them and making them feel at ease. And it also goes without saying that a child’s learning journal should be regularly shared with parents. But how else can we encourage our team to be partners with the parents of the children in our setting?

Interactive Displays

To follow a child-led curriculum, we need to be very in tune with the children’s interests and knowledge. You could create an interactive display in a parent’s area where parents are encouraged to write down any games that their child is particularly enjoying, recent new experiences, or achievements they have recently made. Practitioners can also add to it. Then during planning meetings, it would be easy to follow children’s interests in a more balanced way; reflecting information about the child from both nursery and home.

Learning Journal

A child’s learning journal should also reflect the whole child, not just the child we see in the nursery. Regularly asking parents for their input is very important. It could be that input is planned to be asked for every month, as well as after their birthdays and specific events, such as family celebrations.

Open Days and Play Days

Scheduled days or times when parents are welcomed to stay, are very valuable. It might be that parents are welcomed on a set day each week, month or quarter, so parents can plan it in if possible. Maybe a couple of times a year, you plan an open day with a carousal of activities for parents to come and join in with their child. Or maybe they can stay for the first fifteen minutes of any day. How you choose to do this will be dependent on your setting’s routines and the children you have. Either way, inviting parents into the setting will mean that parents will get a deeper understanding of what nursery life is like, and it will enable staff to get to know the parents too. This is also something that would be special for the children; to welcome their parents into their nursery.

Regular meetings

Consider how often you meet with parents, and how this happens. Having an easy way for parents to come in and talk is very important; perhaps there is something they want to talk about but are worried about taking up your time. An email, a social media post, or adding to your newsletter that parents are welcome to come and talk to you, will help you build good relationships with them and open the door to conversations that perhaps wouldn’t happen otherwise.

Making time

As busy early years leaders, how much time do you make to be visible to parents in your setting? With a heavy workload, it is easy to end up in the office during drop off and pick up times. Making time to be visible and available will help parents to get to know you, as well as for you to get to them.

We know that parents are a child’s first and most important teacher, so let’s use Global Parents Day to reflect on the importance of the relationships you have with the parents of the children in your setting, and how we help them to feel included and valued.

How do you nurture the relationships you have with the parents in your setting? Please feel welcome to let us know in our FaceBook group!  You might also enjoy reading the related article ‘Exploring the unique diversity of family’.

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