by Katie Brazerol
Early childhood education is a people profession. Educators are in constant collaboration, whether it’s with fellow educators, parents, guardians, and of course, the children they teach. It’s human nature not to see eye to eye with those around us on occasion. And in a field like early childhood, where educators are responsible for knowing the distinct needs of each child and family they serve, maintaining positive relationships is essential. Common issues in child care often take place when providers and families aren’t on the same page. Utilizing these four easy steps will go a long way to ensuring your relationships with families stay on track:
1. Be Consistent
Children thrive with set routines, so they tend to behave better when they know what to expect during the day. Create a daily schedule and stick to it. If you are going to be gone, ask that your substitute follow the same routine as much as possible. Prepare children for your absence when you can, and let parents know in advance as well. In addition, be clear about how often you plan to be absent during the year so parents know what to expect.
2. Build Rapport
Families and providers will communicate and respect each other if they know each other better. Get to know your child care families. Ask them how their weekend or day was. Share a few tidbits about yourself and your interests occasionally. It is possible to share a few personal aspects of your life while maintaining a professional relationship. This will help families see you as human as well!
Open communication can strengthen the bond between families and providers. Drop-off and pick-up times can often feel rushed, but both parents and providers will benefit from taking time to communicate about the children. Parents should mention any changes at home that might affect the child, and providers should offer a friendly anecdote from the day or mention any behavioral issues that occurred. If there really is no time to talk, consider communicating through email or setting up a time for a phone call to discuss any concerns (or praise!) you may have. You might also use a parent engagement app such as HiMama, or daily sheets such as FunShine Express parent note pads.
4. Maintain Boundaries
Some parents will ignore policies if boundaries aren’t established. Set specific guidelines and policies, and except in extenuating circumstances, enforce them. Whether you work in a home or a center, your job description and workday need to be clearly defined. If you state clear boundaries, families will be more likely to follow them.