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Communicating and Collaborating With Families Essay

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Updated: Aug 7th, 2020

Family Engagement

Importance of Family Engagement for the Healthy Development of Children and the Creation of a Foundation for Effective Early Childhood Practice

Institutions of early childhood learning attempt to establish and maintain close ties with the families of the children they nurture. The link is established through constant correspondence through communication channels such as emails, telephone calls, or even administering questionnaires. Engaging these families is useful in facilitating smooth early learning to the children involved. Children between the age of birth and five years possess some unique needs that educators would otherwise not comprehend without having to seek guidance from their parents or guardians.

As well, engagement is important when the child involved has special needs since this situation may be tasking to the educators if they do not have useful information from the family about how to relate with such a child. The socio-economic status of the children’s families is also an important aspect that should be considered when dealing with children. According to the US Department of Education (2011), the social and economic background of children influences their learning capabilities. Hence, it should be considered in designing the learning curriculum.

Appreciating diversity in the classroom is another reason why it is important to engage the families of the children. The Department of Education and the various stakeholders in education are currently advocating for a more diverse classroom. Diversity is mainly viewed in terms of race and socio-economic environment. Due to segregation laws, the US education system became divided along racial lines, with different schools being established for the major races (Reardon & Owens, 2014).

The result was that some schools became more developed relative to others, thus causing a disadvantage to children, particularly those from the historically minority communities. Today, Latino and black children are more disadvantaged compared to their white counterparts regarding access to quality education (Reid & Kagan, 2015).

Thus, understanding a child’s background helps the school to design measures that promote equal access to education by factoring in all the possible constraints to learning. While launching the Race to the Top-Early Learning Challenge (RTT-ELC), former President Barack Obama expressed the need to ensure children acquire a strong foundation of early learning. Obama emphasized that effective early childhood learning translates into a successful life in later years (McGuinn, 2012). Therefore, a quality foundation is the basis for effective learning throughout a person’s academic life.

Two Strategies for Engaging Families prior to the Beginning of the School Year

One of the strategies would be to hold events that cause parents and families to be present at the school (Barrera & Warner, 2006). The events can range from music and talent programs to book sales. The idea is to have an increased presence of parents of families of the children at the school. Another strategy would be finding ways to improving the frequency of communication with parents and families. To achieve this goal, I would set up a Facebook page where parents can post their input regarding how the institution should operate. This plan would serve as a useful addition to the existing methods of communication, namely, telephone, email, and the school website.

Why I Chose these Strategies

I chose the first strategy with the aim of increasing contact with parents and the families of the children. The aim is to make parents major partners in devising effective learning strategies (Allen, 2008). This strategy is founded on the fact that parents are the best suited to understand the unique needs of their children (Morrison, 2013). Therefore, they can assist educators in the observation and recording of important data regarding the child’s learning progress. The second strategy (improving communication) would be geared at maintaining constant contact with parents who can then help with information about the child at any time of the day. Further, parents’ involvement can improve the school generally because they offer useful information on how the school should be run.

Individualized Family Communication Plans

Jonathan Hall

Effective communication is an important aspect of life since it builds and enhances relationships. In fact, early childhood educators are perfectly placed to ignite the development of language and communication skills in toddlers and infants (Rodd, 2012). Hence, communication is critical to the success of children, both in school and beyond. The initial method of communication with Jonathan Hall’ family would be by way of a telephone call.

Phone call conversations are advantageous since they command an immediate personal response. Besides, they are capable of determining emotions through voice tones. Telephone conversations are interactive and confidential (Lerner, Frank, Lee, & Wade, 2014). In addition, telephone communication makes it possible to hold audio conferencing sessions with other family members. During medical emergencies in school, it is imperative for family members to be informed hastily to give directions on the correct way of handling the emergency. From the questionnaire, it is evident that Johnny has a medical condition. Hence, telephone conversations would be effective.

It would be appropriate for the school to have various phone numbers that would be used in case of an emergency at school. Presently, Johnny lives with his two parents, a situation that limits the number of persons who can be contacted at such times. To overcome the challenge, both parents would be requested to give alternative phone numbers. The school can use these phone numbers whenever parents are not within reach.

It is important for parents to be regularly informed about their children’s academic progress. According to Moss (2012), it is imperative for early childhood educators to establish cordial partnerships with parents. Such partnerships are meant to support their children’s learning. Regarding Jonny’s academic progress, I would resort to two-way communication with the parents. This form of communication encourages dialogue, thus appreciating different perspectives.

Specifically, I would opt for the parent-teacher conference, which would involve both parents. Before the conferencing, I would select an appropriate time to inform the parents in advance. In addition, I would go through the student’s file to have an objective discussion with the parents. This approach would be an opportune time for discussing what is working with Johnny and/or what does not seem to work. Conferencing will put the child at the center of the conversation, thus evoking great sentiments from all parties. Therefore, both parents would participate in the discussion for the best interest of Johnny.

Opportunities for parents to engage in the classroom would be communicated through video technology. The videos would highlight the students participating in class work and extra-curricular activities. This strategy would help parents in understanding Johnny’s school program. Videos elicit curiosity and the urge of being involved with the activity being showcased. I would also use the internet in communicating with the parents regarding the opportunities to engage in the classroom.

Specifically, the school website would convey a range of classroom activities that may be of interest to parents. The website would regularly provide parents with updates such as test schedules, homework assignments, and resource links among others. Building a partnership with Johnny’s family is central to his healthy development. A positive academic achievement cannot be realized without the support from the immediate family. Inviting Johnny’s parents regularly to school would help in obtaining important information for Johnny’s academic progress because they would feel more connected and involved with his school work, thus being motivated to reveal information to the teachers.

Annie Xun

Balancing family and work responsibilities has led to parents opining that they are usually misunderstood and unsupported regarding their children’s academic progress and achievement. It is important for parent’s preferred mode of communication to be used by teachers. In this regard, Annie’s parents prefer using email or notes. Compared to notes, emails seem more convenient since they can access them at their time provided there is internet connectivity (Mitchell, Foulger, & Wetzel, 2010).

In addition, emails will encourage an interactive segment since parents will be able to express themselves without any limitations. With the advent of internet technology, communication has taken a new form, thus discarding the traditional modes of communication. The internet also gives a chance of expression to reserved persons. Using emails for communication can also be deployed as a reference in future communication. Online communication does not highlight facial expressions.

Psychologists have used facial expressions to reveal several aspects about communicators (Siegman & Feldstein, 2014). In addition, online communication encourages information overload, which can be stressful and overwhelming. In this regard, it would be imperative for the messages to be precise and straight to the point. On facial expression, parents can often be invited to school on important education days. During such days, teachers can have face-to-face conversations with the parents. Consequently, facial expressions would be revealed, thus promoting more understanding between teachers and students. During the education days, parents would also express themselves more easily without the fear of being misunderstood.

Annie lives with her two parents, grandma, grandpa, and her big brother. These persons should be informed about her academic progress. Here, communication determines Annie’s success or failure in education. I would opt for a conference call to communicate to the whole family about Annie’s overall development and academic progress. Lerner, Frank, Lee, and Wade (2014) assert that telephones are widely accessible and time-saving. All the parties will be able to participate in the discussion, regardless of being at a central location or not.

The important thing would be setting a date that is most convenient for all of them to have a conversation. Regarding the family’s engagement in classroom activities, communication would be effected through notes. This decision is informed by the fact that besides email, it is the preferred method of communication by the family. Annie would carry the note. She would hand it to the parents. I would take it upon myself to call the parents later seeking to know whether indeed they got the note.

This plan would demonstrate enthusiasm and concern over Annie’s performance. Teachers cannot solely nurture students without the support of family. Information from the family would be obtained by making regular calls checking on any difference in Annie’s behavior while at home. This strategy will build a rapport with the family while encouraging them towards revealing more information. This information would be helpful in ensuring that Annie achieves academic success.

Irene Segers

In the first communication, I will rely on email because Mr. Segers chose email as the preferred mode of communication. A potential obstacle when communicating via email is the possibility that an electronic message may go unanswered. Most people take some time to respond to an email mainly because they are yet to see it. This observation is different from, say, a telephone call, which is instantaneous.

Besides, because email is a written communication, it carries the possibility of being misinterpreted (Candlin & Hyland, 2014). To overcome this challenge, I would seek to make a follow-up call occasionally to make sure Mr. Segers has seen my email and that he has also understood its message as intended. While this plan sounds rather redundant, it would have the benefit of eliminating potential misunderstandings.

I plan to involve Irene’s parents regarding her progress at school. However, this strategy may pose a challenge because they are recently separated. Thus, I plan to be holding a conference with both of them in my office to discuss their daughter’s performance. I feel it would be more useful to involve both parents in nurturing their daughter for the best outcomes. After all, she spends time with her parents. As such, both should be actively involved in nurturing her academic life.

In addition, collaboration between the two parents is lacking, yet it would be very useful for Irene’s over development. For instance, Mr. Segers is not aware as to whether Irene’s mother assists the child in reading during the times she is with her. Clearly, there is a need for the two parents to be more involved together regarding their daughter’s education.

I plan to communicate to Irene’s family about opportunities to engage in class through the school website. The institution utilizes the platform for making important updates, particularly concerning upcoming events. In addition, I realize Irene’s parents are young, perhaps in their early thirties. From my experience, young parents spend a lot of time on the internet. As such, they are unlikely to miss our web updates. Thus, I am convinced that Irene’s parents will be taking notice of these major events and plan to attend.

As explained earlier, Irene’s parents are recently separated. Her father believes that this separation has had a toll on the young girl. As an early childhood educator, I am passionate about assisting distressed children to attain a level of comfort that will facilitate smooth development. Achieving this goal with Irene will require me to seek the guidance and assistance of both her parents. It is for this reason that I am determined to build a working relationship with both of the parents.

Obtaining useful information about Irene and her family will require me to engage both parents. This situation can be tricky since they no longer live together. I plan to use a conference call to talk to both of them at the same time. Besides, I will seek to be updated about the parent that Irene is putting up with at any giving time. This information will be useful if I want information about her in a short time.

References

Allen, J. (2008). Family partnerships that count. Educational Leadership, 66(1), 22–27.

Barrera, J. M., & Warner. L. (2006). Involving families in school events. Kappa Delta Pi Record, 42(2), 72–75.

Candlin, C. N., & Hyland, K. (2014). Writing: Texts, processes and practices. London, England: Routledge.

Lerner, J. I., Frank, M., Lee, M., & Wade, D. (2014). . Web.

McGuinn, P. (2012). Stimulating reform: Race to the top, competitive grants and the Obama education agenda. Educational Policy, 26(1), 136-159.

Mitchell, S., Foulger, T., & Wetzel, K. (2010). Ten tips for involving families through Internet-based communication. Web.

Morrison, G. S. (2013). Fundamentals of early childhood education. New York, NY: Pearson.

Moss, P. (2012). Early childhood and compulsory education: Reconceptualizing the relationship. London, England: Routledge.

Reardon, S. F., & Owens, A. (2014). 60 Years after Brown: Trends and consequences of school segregation. Annual Review of Sociology, 40(1), 199-218.

Reid, J., & Kagan, S. (2015). . Web.

Rodd, J. (2012). Leadership in early childhood. New York, NY: McGraw-Hill Education.

Siegman, A. W., & Feldstein, S. (2014). Nonverbal behavior and communication. Hove, England: Psychology Press.

US Department of Education. (2011). . Web.

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