Children come to early learning with a range of abilities and strengths. They learn concepts at different paces, and in a variety of ways. Parents are our children’s first teachers and families can provide a wealth of information about children’s strengths, interests and ways they learn.
Knowing about their interests and skills helps educators to engage with children and learn from them!
Effective communication is paramount to building partnerships between educators and parents. Parents need to feel reassured that their child is being well looked after in a nurturing environment. Open, honest and effective bi-directional communication achieves that goal.
Educa will connect and engage your learning community – here are 7 reasons why:
1. Expands the range of ways parents interact with your service
Can parents access information about your company where and when they need to?
Do you have an online calendar or a policies library?
Can you communicate quickly with parents in “real time”?
With Educa you have early education software that provides all these avenues of communication. Educa also complements and expands more traditional methods of communication. Here’s how:
- Daily face to face interactions between educators and the parent/guardian who drops off and picks up a child are more meaningful when they share a rapport developed by commenting back and forth on learning stories using Educa.
- Noticeboards outside or in the foyer reinforce messages viewed on the Educa Dashboard.
- Notes tucked in school bags can go on the fridge but if they don’t make it out of the bag there will be reminders if you post your Newsletter on the Educa Dashboard.
- Day sheets and paper portfolios can incorporate learning stories (with photos) printed straight from Educa.
- Parent feedback initiatives like the excellent one pictured below, provide survey questions allowing parents the choice to be anonymous or provide more details with written feedback. But how best to communicate the results? Publishing them on the Educa Dashboard means all families can see the results at once.
Photo: Luisa Helwani Gentili
2. Learning stories share positive messages that avoid the ‘guilt trap’
Many parents feel a sense of guilt or doubt that although they are trying to do the “right” thing they aren’t doing the right things often enough or in the best possible way. All your communication with parents needs to be grounded in the understanding that children are individuals who learn in different ways. Just like the children we educate, parents respond more readily to positive motivations.
Learning stories written in a child’s individual portfolio with a positive focus make parents feel they are doing things “right”, or are at least heading in the right direction!
Educa helps teachers share the wonderful things a child does. Share positive behaviour management strategies with a solutions based approach rather than using negative feedback. Sharing a child’s achievements lets parents and teachers see their progress in real time, and in a positive light. Posting videos of performances for parents who can’t attend, or photos from outings gives parents a sense of connection to events.
3. Parents share stories and videos – with their child and with educators
Families share in their child’s learning journey by revisiting them with their child online or via EducaTouch. Plus, children’s relationships (and those of other family members) are reinforced because they can create and share stories from home – in their own time and with the rest of their family.
4. Parent feedback on policies helps you use language that engages families
The specialist language of educators can sometimes be confusing for parents who are not familiar with the early childhood terminology used in curriculum and policy documents. Pedagogical language like ‘intentional teaching’, ‘multimodal communication strategies’ or ‘cultural competence’’ may need to be unpacked for parents. Using Educa parents can comment and provide input on policy drafts. Create partnerships with parents by sending a notification seeking feedback on a draft policy. Ask parents which terms are confusing and compile a glossary of terms relating to your service. Make it available to parents in your policies library.
5. Communicating with extended family enhances your wider learning community
Children grow up in multiple social environments and families extend far beyond the four walls of a traditional family home . Families are diverse and encouraging input from the wider family helps educators to understand more about a child’s home life, traditions and culture. Increasing cultural competence means a mutual sharing of information about a child’s family and culture in their early childhood settings.
Things like sharing cultural events by posting images and videos can be reciprocal so children share both at home and in your setting. Our users are always telling us how Educa is the perfect way for relatives to contact them, and for sharing learning stories, photos and videos with families spread across the country or across the globe!
6. Individual messages let families raise issues or problems privately
Some families find interacting with educators face to face challenging. It’s also common for parents to feel that what is happening at home isn’t interesting or important. Let parents know that you welcome their feedback and input into their child’s learning journey by asking them questions in children’s Educa portfolios. Parents also become more engaged if they feel their concerns are being heard. It only takes a few minutes to answer a comment on a child’s learning story. Families need to feel they can let you know about major life events that impact on children’s daily lives (moving house, significant family holidays, death in the family…including family pets) and that they have a way to update you at a time that suits them.
7. Resources provide parents with information on common problems they encounter
Providing parents with opportunities to share problems might mean you can recommend parenting websites, forums and services, and relevant community groups. Or you might provide a directory of local specialists (behavioral optometrists, occupational therapists) that parents can access.
Some childcare providers arrange speakers on topics that are of interest to parents. Sleep experts with effective strategies to keep toddlers in their beds is a common example! Advertise these speakers using your Educa Event Calendar and Dashboard. You might also share parenting articles/links to sites and videos on common topics in your Educa Resources Library.
Educa gives parents and families ways to interact with you as individuals, as a collective and as members of a child’s extended learning community. Using Educa helps partnerships between early childhood services and families become richer, more rewarding and stronger by making communication easier for all involved.