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Early Years Diary: Partnership with Parents, on the Door Step

We all know parent partnership comes hand in hand when working with children but, wow, the pandemic has sure made this hard! Under current guidelines parents are not allowed in the building which can make some aspects run more smoothly, but it also makes some parts of the job more difficult, such as trying to build relationships with parents.

Rather than being able to welcome them in with open arms, we must now keep them at arm’s length and try to make meaningful connections over the doorstep. Luckily, parents are incredibly understanding about the situation and there are a few ways to help strengthen these bonds.

If settings can welcome parents into the nursery on their first settle this can really help build the foundations of the parent-keyworker relationships. Using risk assessments and offering PPE means parents can be welcomed into a safe space to meet their key worker. Their key worker can then start learning about the child and can also answer any questions parents might have, establishing trust and open communication.

Photographer: john vicente | Source: Unsplash

Once the settling in process is complete, at our nursery, children are dropped off and picked up at the entrance. This means making time for handovers is hard when you have a queue of parents waiting! As a practitioner or a manager, it is important to make time for all parents, allowing them to feel they can still ask those important questions about their child’s wellbeing and development.

It is crucial to try and regularly communicate with parents, gaining vital feedback about a child’s home life, like those valuable highlights from the weekend or updates on their latest interests. If having these conversations at the door is hard, there are other ways to promote parent partnership and communication. Using a simple notepad or communication sheet is an easy and accessible way to gather and send out key information.

We are lucky enough to have online Learning Journals at our nursery, but not every setting can offer this. By providing an open window into the nursery through photos and videos, parents get to see what the children are taking part in and how they are developing. They can get a real sense of what their days in nursery are like.

Photographer: Slidebean | Source: Unsplash

Online learning journals are increasing in popularity within early years, and rightly so. They make paperwork quicker, they are more eco-friendly and they provide another means of communication with parents. For online journals to be outstanding, parents should be encouraged to post on the app, commenting and adding their own entries and sometimes receiving responses in real time. This will really solidify communication between home and nursery.

Handing over at the end of the day is another obstacle, trying to share those ‘wow’ moments, learning themes or additional care needs the children have had that day. Again, notepads and communication sheets are great for this. The online learning journals are brilliant for sharing information from the day, too, but this can be slightly impersonal.

Some innovative ways I’ve seen practitioners share learning opportunities from the day is making photo cards or a list of ‘wow’ moments ready for each child to hand over to parents.

Photographer: Rirri | Source: Unsplash

When they are allowed into the setting, families massively appreciate some face time with us at the end of the day. They have spent a whole day away from their child and are likely aching to find out what they have been up to. If management can allow an extra staff member in the room during handovers, this avoids them being rushed and supports the staff remaining in the room.

Having regular phone calls or video calls with families is another great way to keep them updated with learning and development. It also provides opportunities to have confidential conversations that shouldn’t take place at the door, such as behavioural issues. I always say to staff that having a conversation with parents in the day over the phone can be easier than trying to pull them aside at the front door.

Trust and communication are the foundation of all parent partnerships. Ensure the time is taken to include families in their child’s experiences using effective handovers, newsletters, online systems and photos. Partnership with parents has always been a fundamental part of children’s development and we should strive to keep the flow of communication open, using both established and innovative methods.

What are they best ways to communicate with parents in present day? Share your experiences and join the conversation using #mynurserylife