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The partnership with parents is very important as it is the key to making sure that the children in my care get the best care available and are happy and settled in my setting. With the introduction of the Children Act in 1989 parents were given definite rights. This included being able to access information on their children’s progress and achievements in their setting and also a preference to parents as to which school they wanted their child to go to.
Since the introduction of the EYFS in 2008, a clear framework has been put in place to foster partnerships between parents and all professionals, including childminders, pre-schools, nurseries and schools. The relationship between parents and childminders can be very close, parents will be coming into my home every day and it is important that I put this on a professional footing by having a Parental Involvement Policy that clearly states how the partnership between the parents and I will work.
I will welcome all parents into my setting and encourage their involvement in order to ensure their child is comfortable enough to flourish into confident, happy individuals. The partnership with parents starts with the first initial enquiry / visit. I need to build a rapport with the parents by understanding their requirements both culturally, socially and any routines they have. I will always endeavour to accommodate a child’s routine and discuss with parents how this will be managed taking account of the children already in my care.
Sometimes a compromise will need to be made, as long as this is agreed by all parties. Different cultures have different approaches to modesty, clothing, and the use of the toilet and hygiene arrangements. Some cultures have very specific guidelines on the preparation and storage of food and the type of food they eat. All these aspects need to be considered and discussed with the parent at the initial enquiry / visit stage. Once I have established the basic requirements of the parents I will draw up a contract with the parents for the care of their child/(ren).
Before a child starts in my care I will want to have some settling in sessions. This is important to ensure that the child, parent and I can have some time to get to know each other and clarify any points regarding routine, specific needs and communication. There are many ways of communicating with parents, keeping a daily diary, telephone calls, email, a chat on collection or drop off and formalised parent meetings.
A daily diary is particularly useful when children in my care are young and are still in appies, on formula milk, or being weaned, or just starting to feed themselves and / or not yet talking. Telephone calls or email communication is more likely to be an agreed regular communication in the evening or weekends. I would not envisage this being the preferred method of communication as face to face discussion would be more productive. I would propose to hold parents evenings, at least twice a year. The purpose of this would be to review the child’s progress, discuss any issues and plan for the coming six months.