Strong relationships that develop and blossom into mutually respectful partnerships with families are a foundational component to effective programs within the early childhood field. Consider the following scenario:
You have just been hired as the director of an early childhood education program serving children between the ages of birth and 5. In your first weeks on the job, you spend an extensive amount of time visiting each classroom and getting to know the teachers. When you ask about the relationships they have developed with children and their families, one response you receive seems to encapsulate the general attitude: “We are very busy making sure our curriculum meets state standards; we like to get to know the children but have to stay focused on getting these children to learn what the standards say so they will be ready in every way for kindergarten.” When you ask about building partnerships with families, you receive a related response: “Families are most concerned that their children are learning and that they will do well in kindergarten. In fact, the families of the children in my class don’t seem to want to be bothered with what’s happening on a day-to-day basis; they’re interested in ‘end results.'”
Based on these conversations, you know that you need to work with staff to cultivate a shared understanding regarding the importance of building relationships to ensure family involvement and effective partnerships. To that end, you decide to develop an engaging workshop that provides information on current research and theory, practical applications, and benefits and challenges staff may encounter as they work to engage families; develop rich, respectful partnerships; and involve families in the lives of their children at your school.
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