Competency Statement IV
To establish positive and productive relationships with families.
I have always felt the importance of building strong relationships with families because I believe it takes a village to raise a child. Parents have entrusted me to watch, teach, and love their child while they are away and I feel grateful to be trusted with such a valuable part of their life. So, I show that gratitude by making it a priority to maintain a positive, productive relationship with their family. It is my main goal to show families that I am on their team so we can work towards our common goal, which is their child’s development and wellbeing. I try to express to families how much I genuinely care about their child and how much I love being a teacher to give them reassurance that their child is going to receive quality care. When parents feel good about the decision they made they are able to have more constructive relationships with their child’s caregiver.
A large part of maintaining positive, professional relationships with the families I serve is communication. That means I make a conscious effort to have meaningful conversations with parents when they bring their child to class and when they pick their child up from class. When a parent asks me about their child’s day I will elaborate with details of what they chose to play with most, how they participated in activities, how they were socially and emotionally, and any funny or cute stories or quotes from their child I may have to share. I will use this time to also discuss any concerns I or they may have about any behaviors. I make sure to always start with something positive, bring up the concern, and then end the conversation on a positive note. The learning center I work for currently has a mobile App we use to communicate with parents about their child’s day in real-time. I have found this to be a huge benefit when technology is a large part of everyone’s life already, so it is easier to keep in contact with even the busiest parents through the App. I am able to share pictures and videos with individual parents about their child or to every parent when it involves the whole class. As I update the app throughout the day, they are able to find information about their child’s meals, bowel movements, and naps. I am able to log if a child scrapes their knee so a parent is aware they will have an incident report to acknowledge when they pick up later on. The App we use also allows parents to send us messages throughout the day to keep us updated with information about their child too. Outside our classroom door is a large bulletin board for parents to see our lesson plans, notes with ideas for continuing their child’s learning at home, as well as our daily, weekly, and monthly schedules. I use the App to remind parents to check the bulletin board for more information about those things, and will sometimes use the App to elaborate more on specific things on our schedules. For example, if an activity is going to be especially messy, or if we will be in need of some materials, I will share that information through the App as well. Overall, I think I am highly effective at maintaining relationships with families because of the practices I have put into place.
Another very important part of keeping the relationships I’ve built strong is taking an interest in a child’s home life and a family’s wellbeing. It makes my job much easier when I am given some perspective into a child’s home life. I also know that it is not my place to pry and be nosy, but rather to seek information that is relevant to the child. Over the years I’ve built relationships with families that have continued well after their child has moved out of my classroom. We have grown our professional relationships into the best friendships. A way I get to know families is by centering some activities and discussions in our class around their participation. For example, during our Occupation unit, I asked parents what their jobs were and if they wouldn’t mind giving me a brief description of what they do. Asking families to share pictures of their lives is a great way to get to know families more because pictures are wonderful ice-breakers for more detailed conversations. Sharing memories helps to build bonds. I will ask for parents to send me pictures of their child/family that are relevant to any activity or lesson we are focusing on. For example, during our Animals unit, I would ask for parents to send me pictures of their child/family at the zoo, petting zoo, farm, and/or their family pets. These pictures give me additional bits of information about a family that improves the conversations I can have with children. If I know a child has a cat, I can talk to them about their cat to help bridge a connection with that child. When I notice a child may be acting out of character I will ask their parents if they know what could be influencing their little one’s behavior, such as a lack of sleep. This helps families know that we are a team and what happens at home affects what happens at school and vice-versa. Parents are able to use our App to communicate anything too. Building positive relationships with families is something I enjoy because it is fun to learn what makes each family similar and different. It helps me to see their child the way they see their child.
When I gave out the family questionnaires, I was confident that the feedback given was going to be positive. I ended up getting more than half of the questionnaires back very promptly. Each parent seemed to be very eager in helping me progress with my child development associate. It was fun to tell them more about what I was doing with the questionnaire and why. The families I gave questionnaires to were still fairly new to me as their children had started in my classroom about 4 months prior. It left me wondering if I had tried to reach out and make connections as much as possible with each family at that time and how that would affect their feedback. However, when I looked through the returned questionnaires, I was surprised to see how many parents had added notes expressing their heartfelt view on how I’ve taught their child. It was a bit emotional for me to reflect on all the positive feedback I was given because it validated my hard work and effort. One thing that surprised me was being scored lower on cleanliness, the parent had included a note that said “crumbs on the floor, stains on chairs”. I used that feedback and started to sweep and vacuum more often. I also tried (and continue to try) to remove stains from our classroom chairs but our chairs are textured so blueberry stains have just become a part of the chairs aesthetic. Before that feedback, I thought my classroom was maintained very well. After the feedback, it made me realize that cleanliness is defined differently for every parent. So I took that realization and reached out to ask parents what a clean classroom looks like to them. I feel like the feedback I was given through the family questionnaires was incredibly helpful because it helped make me feel proud of myself and the work I do, and it let me see some things that needed improvement.