Whether you’re running a childcare center, kids’ sports team, or other youth-oriented organization, it may seem like there are never enough hours in the day. You may be wondering if it’s really worth it to devote limited time and resources to engaging the families in your network. After all, they also have busy schedules and plenty of responsibilities to juggle. Differences in culture and background can sometimes get in the way of meaningful communication, too. But going the extra mile to connect with families actually makes it easier for all of you to fulfill your roles. Here’s why partnering with parents is so important:
It Empowers Them
Parents are their children’s first teachers, yet they seldom realize the importance of what they do. Things can get complicated when their children take their first steps into formal learning in a preschool classroom or childcare setting. Too often, parents feel alienated by the educational system when they realize they’re not as knowledgeable as they’d like to be on the finer points of child development. In other cases, cultural differences can cause parents to be reluctant about approaching teachers and staff, especially if they view educators as authority figures who shouldn’t be questioned. Partnering with families enables you to encourage and guide them along the way and give them the confidence to voice their concerns. Plus, parents are more likely to volunteer in the classroom and attend special events at the childcare center when they feel appreciated and listened to.
It Improves the Learning Environment
Engaging families helps bridge the gap between home and school. When parents know what their children are learning in the classroom, they can reinforce those concepts at home. For example, when preschoolers are working on letter and number recognition, parents can help them build on those skills outside the classroom. Simple activities, such as reading together, pointing out numbers and letters on signs while riding in the car, and playing counting games can go a long way toward helping children retain what’s being taught in class and gain the confidence to tackle more complex and challenging material, too.
You Can Address Problems Early
Many an observant teacher can detect signs of learning disabilities and other challenges in young children who may be lagging behind their peers in social skills or academic achievement. Sometimes, parents are unaware that their children aren’t meeting the milestones typical of their age group. Even when parents know there is a problem, they may be in denial or simply unsure what to do. Partnering with parents gives teachers and staff the opportunity to address any concerns they may have about a child’s progress, brainstorm possible solutions, and locate additional resources and support, if needed.
Similarly, connecting with parents can enable teachers to better understand the difficulties a particular child may be having. A little one who is normally well-behaved may suddenly become aggressive or withdrawn at school. Establishing a healthy rapport with the child’s family can help staff more easily get to the root of the problem and figure out whether it’s due to a disability or health issue, or a sudden change in the family, such as a divorce or the death of a close relative.
Research supports the idea that, when it comes to education, getting families on board benefits all stakeholders in your network. The University of Oxford conducted a study to determine the impact of parental involvement on children’s learning. Perhaps not surprisingly, they concluded that young children participating in programs that emphasized parental engagement made greater progress than children whose parents weren’t involved.
Additionally, according to the Journal of Instructional Psychology, including parents in what’s going on in the classroom can lead to overall school improvement. Parents and teachers are more effective in their respective roles when they work together.
Fortunately, technology makes it easier than ever to give everyone in your community a voice. Go2s is a safe, secure platform where you can engage your entire team without fear of “cyber-spies” seeing sensitive information. Admins can control settings to ensure personal information is kept private, so parents can have peace of mind knowing that anything they share stays within the group. If you’re ready to take family engagement to the next level, sign up for a free account today.