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PARENT PARTICIPATION AT DAY CARE
By Fiona Lohrenz
PARENT PARTICIPATION AT DAY CARE
Parental involvement and input should be welcomed by day care providers whenever offered. The rewards of this parental participation is mutually beneficial and makes for a positive experience for the children and all concerned. The provider gains a holistic picture of the child from the valuable personal information donated by the parents and in return the day care can pass along a wealth of knowledge gleaned from daily observation.
This mutual cooperation allows both parties the opportunity to share effective methods and ideas regarding working with individual children. The day care experience for all concerned is enriched by this listening, respecting and valuing of each other's knowledge. The parents can learn so much about the socialization and interaction of their child from the carer whilst passing on their family values and beliefs to the day care. Opportunities for communication should be provided both formally and informally and information sharing should be ongoing.
In order to maximize the effectiveness of this sharing process assess your staff and their abilities in the area of working and communicating with parents. Perhaps they need training and guidelines in order that they communicate effectively and professionally. How can staff be supported so that they don't feel constantly harangued and scrutinized? Consider your current timetable and staffing levels - do these currently allow for time to be spent with parents and any subsequent follow ups? Try to think of innovative ways for parents to become more involved e.g. they could be a guest speaker and talk to the children about a topic of expertise, they could offer to volunteer at the day care occasionally.
You should have a complaints procedure in place that allows parents to air their grievances easily and without feeling judged. You should be seen as open, friendly and professional and as such, should view complaints as constructive criticism and a means to improving the quality of your day care service. Thank parents for bringing issues to your attention and deal with the problem immediately. It is important to have a complaints procedure in place so that staff are empowered to deal with certain issues whilst management step in for more serious incidents. Perhaps have a suggestion box where parents are welcome to offer suggestions/criticism anonymously.
Your orientation and settling in procedure should facilitate parental involvement from the outset. You can encourage positive interaction by forming a parents committee so that they have allies and a collective voice. Parents need a daily point of contact regarding their child so integrate a key worker system into your day care. Use your notice board or a newsletter to provide information about weekly scheduling and activities. In order to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion you should share daily information both verbally and in writing. It is a great idea to have a website and a blog where parents can leave comments and you can update everyone regarding day care activities. You can include a staff page on here with photos and information.
Parental involvement in your day care can potentially provide you with untold resources heretofore untapped. Parents will be encouraged to give back if they feel valued and supported. Opening up channels of communication and sharing can avoid many misunderstandings and conflicts that are borne out of lack of information. A friendly, welcoming and open day care should be your ultimate goal. An all inclusive day care is a happy day care.
Owning and operating a day care for 10 years provides Fiona Lohrenz with lots of experience and material for her child care articles. Not to mention her childcare website and DVD guide to Starting a Child Care business at www.startchildcare.com.
This article was submitted by Fiona Lohrenz for electronic reproduction on www.moondragon.org May 2, 2008. Thank you Fiona for your contribution.
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