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Why Your Early Years Team Must Partner With Parents To Secure The Best Outcomes For Children

Busy Bees’ Lisa Snell explains how to work effectively with mums and dads

  • Why Your Early Years Team Must Partner With Parents To Secure The Best Outcomes For Children

Education doesn’t, and shouldn’t, finish at school or nursery.

A child’s developmental journey starts well before their first word, and continually evolves, meaning parents have a vital and ongoing role in inspiring their lifelong appetite for learning.

As childcare professionals and teachers, we have a combined responsibility to work with mums and dads to ensure they feel comfortable and supported, as we work together to provide children with new experiences and learning opportunities that spark their imagination and encourage their natural curiosity as they grow.

At Busy Bees, involving parents in the work we do in nursery is considered incredibly important. We work as a team to introduce activities that children can engage with, and as well as encouraging and supporting an ongoing positive relationship with learning, these activities can all be easily replicated at home with household items.

After all, learning happens in everyday life! As children, we observe how the adults around us communicate before we begin to speak; we compare, describe and look for patterns in play. Our job as parents and practitioners is to encourage this natural curiosity in children, capturing their imaginations and encouraging them to search for solutions independently as they use their natural problem-solving abilities.

In practice

By introducing child-led measuring and counting activities into play or everyday situations we are able to introduce learning concepts in an organic way without children losing interest or switching off.

Simple activities such as searching for leaves and treasures in the garden or measuring the height of straws in sand all help to bring learning outside of the traditional classroom setting, changing the way children acquire knowledge. Rather than sitting at a desk, children are immediately encouraged to be more creative as they have the freedom to use their whole bodies to learn as they explore the world around them.

Activities like this also lead the way for the natural development of communication skills as practitioners and parents alike have more freedom to prompt children to use descriptive words, and make more complex sentences to express themselves, all whilst building on fine and gross motor skills through games and play.

Sharing information

Building a relationship with parents, based on communication and trust ensures knowledge can be freely shared and, ultimately, that children can benefit from a consistent and united approach. Part of our daily routine as practitioners is to observe and record the developmental progress of the children we look after, making sure that every child is receiving the best quality care, so it is only natural that this becomes one of the most important things we share with parents.

A strong relationship between a child’s parents or carers and their key person provides practitioners with vital information about the child’s family, hobbies and interests. This helps us as practitioners to get to know a bit more about the individual child, allowing us to introduce activities based on their likes, strengths or hobbies, which helps to make the child feel comfortable and confident, and substantially improve their outcomes.

We’ve also found that building this relationship encourages parents to feel more comfortable asking practitioners for support and guidance, or advice on activities or games they can try with their child at home.

Digital solutions

Using a learning journal to record observations, developmental milestones and special or ‘wow’ moments affords parents a complete picture of their child’s progress at nursery.

They benefit the child’s key person by tracking progress in activities, and mean that parents are able to supplement activities carried out in nursery by introducing new and exciting challenges at home.

Alternatively, practitioners can talk parents through activities the child particularly enjoys, or struggles with, so they can be worked on at home, giving the child the best, all-encompassing learning experience.

The introduction of electronic learning journals and digital platforms, such as the iConnect app we use in a selection of our Busy Bees nurseries, has only helped to strengthen this relationship by allowing an instantaneous two-way flow of communication.

Unlike traditional, paper-based learning journals, digital solutions allow parents and practitioners to instantly share photographs and videos of key events in the child’s day, and record children taking part in activities.

As well as ensuring that parents don’t miss out on important steps in their child’s life, they encourage dialogue, and we often find that while children are away from nursery, parents share important milestones with practitioners. This stretches beyond the typical pick-up or drop-off conversation, giving the child’s key person a clearer picture of a child’s development at home.

Supporting parents

Essentially, the relationship between parent or carer and practitioner is almost as important as the relationship between key person and child.

Children often spend more time at home than they do in nursery, which makes it our responsibility as practitioners to see that our parents are equipped to support children with learning activities that have been developed in nursery. Working cohesively, sharing information and continuing to support parents all helps to give children the best learning experience, and ultimately, make a dramatic difference to their relationship with education, and their outcomes.

Start a dialogue

Three ways to work in partnership with home

Share details of activities that the child enjoys. This will help parents support learning that has taken place in nursery.
Share progress updates, milestones and wow moments. Providing updates helps to ensure parents are not covering old ground or overestimating a child’s abilities.
Encourage a two-way flow of conversation. The more information that’s shared about a child, the more tailored the activities can be, at home or in nursery.

As early years director at Busy Bees Childcare, Lisa Snell, has been influential in shaping childcare and education standards across the nursery group’s 329 nurseries. Alongside her innovative team of childcare practitioners, Lisa has worked tirelessly to create better outcomes for more children.

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