I am always looking for winning combinations…Peanut butter plus jelly equals gooey deliciousness. A sunny day plus a half day of work equals a good long walk with my dogs. These are win-win situations that make me very happy. Me happy plus anything, equals a better day for everyone!
I like to think of parents as allies and friends. I also consider them colleagues, as they are really in the same business that we are, educating children. Although they might not have the same training that we do, they are deeply invested in the lives of their children both in the present and in the future. They may make decisions based on culture and intuition more than we do, but their intentions are pure.
It is impossible to separate the child from her home, her family, and her life outside of care. Incorporating this fundamental belief into your practice with children will change and grow your interactions with children tremendously. This means that as teachers, we must see children in these complex contexts and remind ourselves of this unique part of our work.
There are several questions that teachers should ask themselves frequently.
1. What does this child bring to my classroom that is unique and special?
2. How can we celebrate the uniqueness of each child in my program?
3. How can I include families in more meaningful ways in their child’s early care and education?
4. How can I improve my own communications skills to better serve the families in my program?
5. What assumptions do I make about the children in my care and by extension, their families?
6. How can I let go of my assumptions and simply honor the families I serve?
Some of us become more forgiving as we gain experience. Some of us become more jaded and cynical. Try to put yourselves in the first category and add yourself to parents to create a winning combination.