I think we need to talk
We all know the importance of open and honest communication between educators and families. According to ACECQA’s Starting Blocks, “the key to maintaining consistency across home and the service is open communication between families, staff and children.” But how do we ensure this communication happens? And how to we ensure our families share important information with us? How often have we felt frustrated by not knowing about significant events in a child’s life, or changes in family routines that have affected the child’s sense of security while in our care?
If a family is new to the whole notion of childcare, they may assume that we will always know what to do. After all, caring for and educating children is our core business! I wonder if we can be victims of our own success here. The more competent our families think we are, perhaps the less likely they may be to help us out with important information from home. So I guess the solution here is asking families the right questions, and ensuring we keep the lines of communication open all the time.
It’s the ‘all the time’ bit that might need some work. I think we are pretty good at gathering information and asking the right questions when a child first enrols at our service. But, what about ongoing communication? How do we encourage families to continually engage with us, particularly when families’ work demands mean that they have limited time for face-to-face chats?
Using EarlyWorks, educators can share observations, journals, daily communications, comments and images. Families are then invited to respond in their own time. These responses can then be used to inform the program. Using EarlyWorks, educators can also engage in conversations with families, asking questions about changes to routines, changes in children’s interests, and achievement of developmental milestones.
So I guess, if we want to be kept informed, it is up to us as educators to ask the right questions and continually engage our families (either face to face or through the use of technology) in meaningful conversations.