Review the range of groups and individuals whose communication needs must be addressed in your own work job role. As an early years practitioner communication within the role is an essential skill required in any setting and is the foundation in which we are able to find out information needed for different purposes. Having an excellent communication scheme allows for a great team and a successful setting, there are many different means to communicate with others, some of these are:
Communication affects everyone within a nursery setting and therefore is a crucial part of managing a nursery. There are many groups of people that we interact with while carrying out our day-to-day duties. All members of staff such directors, managers, teachers, teaching assistants, cleaning staff rely on many different forms of communication to assist with their individual job roles. All job roles come with different responsibilities and without clear and constant communication between them; tasks and team moral will be affected. As a manager there are many techniques and approaches we can apply to ensure that all members of staff are involved and communicated with in the appropriate manner. For example; 5-minute communication meetings each morning, weekly meetings with line managers, team building days, email accounts etc. Children within the nursery, are an essential part of our daily routine and communication with them is of an equal value, however involves a different approach.
There are many important factors to be taken into consideration when communicating with children; firstly, it should always be age appropriate, taking into account the language we chose and the level of the class. Secondly, what are we trying to achieve from our lesson, and finally, how do we respond to the children trying to communicate to us. These factors or techniques should always be considered throughout our day with the children, with some key examples being; circle time, stories, singing, role-play, messy play etc. Parents of children who com to the nursery, play a huge part within a nursery setting and clear communication with them is vital at all times to development a good partnership. Different techniques and approaches within a nursery setting should be applied to ensure that all parents gain clear and concise communication in the correct way.
When dealing with parents on a day to day basis, communicate allows teachers and management to build a good relationship between the children’s nursery and home life, therefore allowing us to put them at ease and help them to understand and be apart of the nursery’s vision and ethos. It is very important to understand that communication does not just involve talking to someone, but about making them feel comfortable to approach a member of staff with any questions, queries or complaints. As management within a nursery it is a requirement to discuss and work closely with all members of staff, parents and children.
Therefore it is crucial to have excellent communication skill in order to deal with situations that may involve individuals from outside your nursery. This will assist with the day-to-day running of the nursery, allowing everyone to keep up the high standards. There are many different external personnel groups that a setting will interact with and as a manager ensuring strong communication with them is key. There are various ways of communicating with these groups and again finding the correct approach is paramount. For example; contacting them by telephone, e-mails, setting up meetings within the nursery or at their organisations, reports, recording books etc.
Explain how to support effective communication within your own job role. While managing a nursery, it is essential that the management build good positive working relationships with everyone they communicate with, having the ability to be able to talk openly, honestly and clearly, creating an atmosphere of trust and respecting the needs of others while interacting with them. Within a nursery the management will take on a vast amount of roles and responsibilities throughout their daily routine, and so should adjust their approach to communicate in different circumstances if and when needed. Changing communication approaches when developing these relationships with others should help deliver the message effectively. Here are some examples of roles which management will undertake: advising, instructing, welcoming, observing, informing etc.
Management use a variety of different communication methods (shown above in 1.1) to help with the multiple roles they contend with on a daily basis. There are many reasons to be an effective communicator within a nursery, as this will allow the manager to delegate tasks to others, conduct meetings, deliver presentations, supervise, manage appraisals, report, build a team, negotiate and interview etc. Bearing in mind that being a good and effective communicator is being able to adapt their style to the situation and being able to respond in sensitive and empathetic ways to those who they are communicating with. As well as supporting others to become an effective communicator, they should role model effectively and reflect daily on their own communication skills.
Analyse the barriers and challenges to communication within own job role. Effective communication is paramount to running a successful nursery and the management team should always build strong and positive relationships with the people they may communicate with. If these relationships are not built, communication may become limited and will not be communicated on a meaning full level with the group or individual delivering or receiving the message, which may begin to create conflict between them. It is vital that the group or individual shows respect for one another while being communicated to as this will help keep in the effectiveness of communication. There are several barriers, which may affect clear and effective communication between a group and an individual making communicate ineffective. Ensuring these barriers are solved the management need to find the correct approach to overcome them.
Some of the barriers that a nursery may be faced with are listed below. Firstly, the difference in culture, values and language is a major barrier within applying effective communication as this could block any important information getting through to the appropriate person, and therefore affecting the purpose involved. Communicating with the correct language Being aware and knowing the importance of respecting the cultural differences could help the manager, group or individual deliver or receive highly effective communication.
‘By developing a respectful curiosity about the beliefs and practices within all service users’ lives, we are able to communicate in more meaningful ways.’ (Miller 2006). Secondly, negative feeling towards others has a big impact on the way communication is delivered or received. As a human being, liking and getting along with everyone is not expected and during a working nursery environment interacting with this barrier is incredibly common.
Part of negative feelings can also be affected by body language when communicating with others, as it can be shown easily through actions without speaking. ‘Non-verbal communication can have up to five times the impact on a person’s understanding compared to words. (Argyle 1978). For example, the attitude, appearance and behaviour of the individual show clear signs of negativity. However, working alongside others is a top priority of the managers daily roles and keeping things professional is a major plus when dealing with different situations and is vital to ensure that speech and body language match in order to deliver the message. Finally, a barrier that could challenge effective communication is an inappropriate environment that is being used, could lead to others not understanding the message.
Occasionally, the message could be distorted when the environment is too noisy, to hot or cold and crowded etc. Distractions could have another giant impact in the environment as some people may be easily unfocused on the communication given and so could present to the manager poor work. Therefore, ensuring that the nature of environment is appropriate for the communication being delivered or received is an essential part of effective communicate and a successful nursery. For example, staff meetings are in a large enough area for the number of staff with appropriate seating, temperatures in the area are correct, mobile phones turned off in meetings, quiet area to ensure effective communication etc.
Implement a strategy to overcome communication barriers.
Evaluating and reflecting on previous communication with others supports the management to improve and change their communication strategies if needed, allowing them to identify and take adequate action. For example, within my class, I communicated with a teaching assistant (who is of a different culture) explaining prep work I will need for the following week. She did not understand the content of the things I was asking and so I changed my communication method, writing and drawings examples on paper. In respect to cultural, values and language barriers, (an external barrier) staff training should be given, specifically on all types of communication and different strategies they could use in regards to different situations. Some examples that we use in my nursery are; staff training on using home-school communication books with parents, using their nursery e-mail accounts and checking them daily, having parent teacher meetings, using there teaching assistants effectively- having a meeting with them weekly and communicating with them using written communication if verbal has not been successful.
Also training to raise awareness of cultural and religious differences within a nursery. The internal barrier is the body language used when communicating with others; here managers need to be aware of how they present themselves to parents, other members of staff and external services. Reflecting on this each time they are in different situations will allow room to improve in the following situation. ‘Through the development of your self-awareness you can resolve past and current issues and, by doing so, you can improve on your skills in the role of manager’. (Geldard and Geldard 2003). A technique to improve body language as a manager is through ‘SOLER’ (Egan).
Use different means of communication to meet different needs. There are a vast amount of communication methods, which need to meet many individual needs, a range of these are verbal, non-verbal, sign, pictorial, written, electronic, assisted, personal, organisational, formal, informal and public. Some of these methods are listed in more detail below. Verbal Communication- During nursery routines verbal communication is used daily, as most staff discover important information this way. However, this is sometimes not enough as verbal communication can also become complicated due to the meaning of words used and how they are perceived between cultures, leading to a possible ineffective form of communication.
‘The words we use alter depending on the situation and the people involved and, because of this, we can never be sure that a word has the same meaning for two people’. (Porritt, 1990). The words managers use are very important and are as equally important as the tone of voice, pitch, volume, rhythm and timing that are included within the conversation as it can affect the way the message is delivered. For example, talking to an adult like they were a child and receiving tuts and sighing back, shows signs that the individual does not feel comfortable with the way they are being spoken to. This is called paralinguistic communication, which allows us to see signs through the individuals sounds that they may reply, for example, sighing, coughing, tutting, yawning etc.
Non-Verbal Communication- This form of communication uses different factors that we can see without using any kind of speech or sounds. Below is a table containing examples of the different factors individuals may come across when using non-verbal communication.
Our facial expression communicates emotions unless we train ourselves to mask our feelings. Burnard (1996) argues that it is important to be congruent- if you say you are angry while smiling, it gives a confusing mixed message.
Eye contact and gaze
The way we look into another person’s eyes during conversation is what is known as eye contact. If somebody can hold eye contact through a conversation, it can communicate a level of confidence and willingness to communicate fully. Some of the people we communicate with will have a very low level of eye contact, which might communicate a lack of ease with the conversation or a lack of confidence. It is a good idea to reduce the level of our eye contact to reflect theirs, otherwise it can feel threatening. The appropriateness of maintaining eye contact differs according to culture.
Gestures are movements of your arms and hands that accompany speech. Gestures can help communication, for example, pointing at the direction a person needs to go in can add emphasis to the communication. However too much gesturing can be distracting. Body position, posture and movement.
The body position of a client can tell you a lot about how they are feeling- if they are hunched over, with arms and legs crossed, they are probably feeling quite anxious. Rogers (1980) recommends that we relax and it is important not to appear too formal and distant. However if we are too laid back in pour posture, we could appear disinterested. Sitting with our arms and legs can appear closed off and defensive. However, in some circumstances, it may be a good idea to mirror the body posture of the person we are with.
Personal space and proximity
Two to three feet distance between the chairs is about right for me; however I have noticed that some client’s push their chairs back as soon as they sit down in the prearranged chairs. I assume that space does not feel comfortable to them. People seem to have their own invisible boundaries which change according to who they are interacting with and how comfortable they feel. Porritt (1990) calls it a bubble that surrounds us.
The clothes we choose to wear say a lot about us. Dressing too informally and too formally can alienate us from our clients. Therapeutic touch Touch can be a contentious subject. On the one hand there is evidence of touch having therapeutic benefits; on the other it can be misinterpreted and seen as an invasion of a person’s personal space. Bonham (2004) suggests it may be appropriate and supportive for staff to touch when clients are distressed as it may validate the degree of their suffering. He suggests that appropriate places to touch in this situation are hands, forearms, upper arms and shoulders. (Tina Tilmouth, T. et al., 2011).
Sign- Using this form of communication is key to those who have hearing impairments and is made up of many gestures, using mainly hands and arms in different signals to communicate. There are different methods of using sign for communicating these are British sign language (BSL), makaton, which helps support speech and baby sign language, which helps communicate with babies and toddlers who have not yet developed their language skills. Pictorial- With this method, communication is primarily through pictures and drawings to communicate effective messages to others. Pictures and drawings are easy to understand and remember, which is why children are shown them from an early age allowing them to understand different instructions.
Written- Within a nursery setting, written communication is used a numerous amount of times throughout daily routines. These can be written reports, notes, and e-mails etc. Written communication allows us to be accurate and keep information up to date, while maintaining clear and effective communication. ‘Written communication should be accurate, in detail, up-to-date non-judgemental and legible so that others are able to read it. We also need to comply with confidentiality guidelines and, as such, all forms of written communication must be kept safely.’ (Donnelly and Neville 2008). Electronic- Several methods of electronic communication that could be used within a nursery setting bearing in mind confidentiality are e-mails, telephone calls, text messaging, web pages, social networking sites, forums and video chats. Some explanations of these methods placed below.
1. E-mails are the most quick and convenient method of electronic communication within a setting as messages can be sent to an address immediately, alerting the receiver that they have a new message waiting. The receiver can then reply as soon as possible therefore a shorter amount of time for response is predicted. Adding attachments and links may also be included in the mail, showing various images, videos, notices, letters etc. As e-mails are passed back and forth to individuals or groups the conversation between them will preferably be saved, therefore information needed in the future can always be received as long as it has not been eased.
2. Telephone calls and text messages are another electronic communication method and can are used vastly within a setting. Telephone calls along with e-mails are one of the biggest communication methods used in any organisation, and can be used both formally and informally. Telephone calls can have disadvantages, however others could be overheard, also the individuals cannot pick up on non-verbal signs shown by the other person. Text messages are easy and informal and can immediately be delivered to one phone or a group of mobile phones, they can also be quicker than a telephone call.
A text message could be used instead of a telephone call as it can stop a conversation being overheard. 3. Within a nursery setting, promoting high standards is essential and creating a website could help communicate how excellent the setting is to others. Therefore, another electronic communication method is web pages. Creating a web page for a nursery can help provide others seek information needed about the setting. Web pages can contain different information allowing others to view, for example, text, multi-media files including images, sounds, games etc. Web pages can store this information for a good period of time.
4. Social networking sites have become a main electronic communication method over the last 10 years and are a very popular way to communicate with others. A social networking site is made up of individuals that create a profile and build connections with others by a particular type of interest, such as, ideas, values, trades, fashion etc. A nursery setting may become part of an online social networking site creating a page about the nursery to maintain effective communication with parents, bearing in mind confidentiality at all times.
Explain the legal and ethical tensions between maintaining confidentiality and information sharing. Confidentiality and sharing information is information shared from one individual to another or even to a small group, this information is not to be shared with others and is of the up most importance when dealing with staff, parents and children within a nursery setting. Confidentiality permits parents to have a sense of trust in members of the nursery staff. Polices are set out for staff to respect and obey daily throughout there routines however, staff only have the right to know relevant information not all, and if this is breeched serious action could be taken.
To ensure all staff members understand the policy on confidentiality, training and appropriate guidance and support should be given when needed. (Beauchamp and Childress 1994), defined ‘Confidentiality as ‘keeping secret’ information given to a person by another. Infringement occurs when that information is disclosed to someone else without the giver’s consent’. Within a nursery setting, all confidential files are kept within a locked cabinet and staff are obliged to keep parent and child information confidential at all times, however confidentiality can be broken when a crime has been committed or when the member of staff believes it is about to, malpractice has occurred, child abuse is suspected, to help prevent suicide, or misconduct has occurred, and only sharing the information to the professionals who need to know. If by law, confidentiality is breeched, then the manager has the right to take disciplinary and/or legal action.