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Over-friendly Practitioner?


miriam2
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This is my first post after years of reading excellent advice!

Please advise me on this rather delicate situation.

I have a relatively new member of staff, very keen to learn, lovely with the children, very flexible and willing. The trouble is, as is often the case with preschools, she used to have a child here so considers herself very 'in' with the committee and running of the group (she used to volunteer a lot)

 

The problem I'm having is her spontaneous little chats with parents such as 'Oh your ** what a cheeky monkey he was today' or 'Oh no, your **didnt want to join in today'. Often this is at pick-up time in front of other parents. I feel it's my job as manager to pass on any relevant comments especially as someone less experienced might, you know, be wrongly construed...

 

She is very well-meaning but....

 

How would you approach her?

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hi i would have a staff meeting and just say...

"confidentuality is very importand and i dont want other parents listening in on

conversations about other children so from now on there will be NO formal or informal chit chat with parents

if i feel there is something to tell parents i as manager will have a private meeting with the family"

 

good luck

x

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Hi Miriam,

Many thanks for making your first post :o The first of many, I hope!

 

I would place this as an agenda item at a staff meeting, and talk about how you, as a setting, should be communicating positively with parents about their child's morning; nothing negative as a subject of conversation at pick-up times. Only positive feedback about how their child has enjoyed x, y or z. In fact, it's very important to maintain this contact with parents, as the EYFS tells us, so that the sharing of information becomes second nature to ALL staff, not just the manager. So in this respect, I don't think you should stop her talking to parents completely, you just need to be clear about the permissible content.

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sorry helen is right all staff need to have a partnership with parents but

i would still feel its in the hands of the manager to talk with family if there was a concern about a child etc

ifa parent needs to tell staff something about their child they need to feel they can

talk to any member of staff,

but the too over friendly babter unfront of others still has to stop good luck

let us know how you got on.

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In our pre-school we actively encourage comments to parents at the end of the day informing of their achievements. As far as I have read in the EYFS each key-person is responsible for relaying what children have achieved, we do find this contact a real benefit as we learn more about the child at home and make connects also adding this to our planning. We ensure that feedback is sensative and always a celebration - Dot

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Has this new member of staff had an induction?

 

When I did inductions with new staff I covered all policies, including confidentiality and partnership with parents. The induction wasn't just go away and read the policies, I had a short / brief chat about what each one meant in practice giving 'real life' scenario's / context to put my point across and to measure the staffs' understanding, a good time to chat about 'communication, what, who, where and when. :o

I think it's always good to revisit various policies in staff meetings, in fact do a rolling programme of poicy review, one or two policies at each meeting, but wonder if in this case will this particular staff member realise the 'message' is aimed at her.

 

I'd also like to add that I would use the pick up time to talk to parents about them, to get to know them as individuals, yes mention if Johnny really enjoyed painting today, but not as a matter of course as a regular thing, but when it is significant, at the end of the day, most all children enjoy most all of their preschool session, so daily comments of what they've enjoyed may lose their importance, if you see what I mean. Just asking a parent "How are you today?" , building an open welcoming relationship with them is what I used pick up times for as well as sharing 'educational' information. xD

 

Good luck, an interesting first post, thanks, I look forward to hearing how you get on with this.

 

Peggy

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Congratulations on making your first post Miriam - hopefully it will be the first of many.

 

It sounds to me like you have a very confident practitioner (even if she is a little inexperienced!) and it would be a shame to dent this confidence when dealing with parents. As others have said she needs a bit of guidance about what to say and how to say it - and I think it would be a useful discussion to have with the whole staff team so that everyone can have take part in deciding what sorts of information to share and when.

 

Often talking to parents is the scariest bit of the job - I remember when I first started in pre-school I used to dread any parent asking me how their child was getting on just in case I said the wrong thing! :o

 

Maz

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Thank you all for your advice. It's taken me a while to pluck up courage to post here!

 

Yes she has had the usual induction and I imagine probably thinks rapport with the parents is important (it is of course!) but has not considered that it might stray over into a confidentiality issue. We have appraisals coming up (her first) so think I will bring it up then. It's just inexperience I think.

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Hi

I'm having the same sort of problem at the moment. Even though all my staff have very extensive inductions and are quoted word for word the confidentiality policy, I have 3 members of staff who for various different situations have links to 3 children at pre-school. I am having to constantly remind them that what is said at pre-school must not be repeated to parents and of the ethics of how to talk to parents and what can be said and how to say it.

Familiarity makes life very difficult.

I have my grandson come to pre-school early and I've got a member of staff that has brought in a child who is no relative to her except through boyfriends family in early for what I thought was an emergency situation. I have had to tell the mother of the child that he can't come in early or if he does she will have to pay the charge and the mother had the cheek to say that she'd been told because I bring my grandson in with me it was alright for her brothers girlfriend to bring in her child.

Being as I'm a private group and I'm the owner, it seems as though if you give an inch they take a mile

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Hello,

 

Is it o.k for staff to give out their mob. number to parents?, i have a staff who is leaving this month she is giving out xmas cards to selected parents with her mob. number and the date she would be leaving on the card, even though we have made a mention of this in the monthly newsletter.

 

Toro

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Hi all

 

I am a NVQ Level 3 student in a pre-school placement. Its a very interesting topic and I felt I should comment. My son attended the playgroup I am in placement at now. On my first day in placement I had to opportunity to ask my supervisor "What do I say, if someone asks me how their child is doing?"

 

The reason I asked this is because it is I am on speaking terms with some of the mums this year, but also because my boss's son attends playgroup and we are also good friends.

 

Her reply was that if someone asks through general chit chat "Did you see my boy at playgroup today, how did he get on?" just answer "Oh he was grand, we had good fun today" . If they then try to take this further as in "Does he get on OK with the other children?", I have been instructed to tell them something along the lines of "as a student I am not permitted to talk about your child as I am not yet qualified in this field and in doing so I risk loosing my placement and also taking part in the course. If you have any queries, feel free to talk to the supervisor the next day you are in."

 

I have had to use this a number of times already, as some of the mums have approached me when I am out and about and sometimes even in my other job in Tesco!!!

 

My boss also mentioned to me last week, that my supervisor wanted a word with her and would talk to her after the weekend and that she was worried sick. Before she even had the chance to take it any further, I stopped her in her tracks and just said that as much as I respect her and can trust her with many things, I wasn't prepared to risk putting my future career in jepardy by talking out of school! She mentioned that she knew this and made a joke of saying that if she thought I would have told her anything, she'd have rang me the day before!

 

I am just thinking that, if you ran this by your student it might make her stop and think. To be honest, if I were you I would be concerned about what she could say when she meets parents outside of the setting, if she is already saying things in front of you to them!

 

It might also be worth mentioning and please feel free to correct me if I'm wrong on this, if she is telling the parents, in front of the child, that they are being a right little monkey, then mum or dad etc may tell the child off when out of earshot. The child could then resent your student for getting them into trouble and this could then affect the relationship(s) she has with the children, as they feel that she cannot be trusted and may decided not to bother with her because she has got them into trouble before, quite possibly on several occassions. Could you possibly try talking to her from that angle???

 

Don't know if any of these suggestions will help, what I can definately tell you is that when talking to the mum's out and about, I find myself very aware of every single word that comes out of my mouth, just in case I say something I shouldn't and half the time, the parents are asking me how I am getting on in my placement and don't even mention their child at all!!

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Hello,

 

Is it o.k for staff to give out their mob. number to parents?, i have a staff who is leaving this month she is giving out xmas cards to selected parents with her mob. number and the date she would be leaving on the card, even though we have made a mention of this in the monthly newsletter.

 

Toro

 

I experienced exactly the same last year, i explained that all cards needed to be given to children through the post box used by the children, she put them all in and i took them all out and binned them after she went home!

 

Two slipped through the net and these parents came to me asking why they had received these, they were confused as they said it was sad to see her go, but wouldn'tr be needing to contact her after she had left.

 

These particular members of staff have crossed the line, they are not acting professionally within their role, they obviously view some parents as their friends, which i find strange!

 

On another note what about staff and parents being friends on Facebook??

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Slightly off side but we have a rule that children can only be discussed within the building unless it is a formal meeting as we live in a locality where everyone knows everyone else. This has got staff out of many a sticky situation in the past.

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Just like to add on a wider more general note, ALL staff need to know and be very clear of the consequences of 'breach of confidentiality' or 'unprofessional communications'.

 

Peggy

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Hello,

 

Is it o.k for staff to give out their mob. number to parents?, i have a staff who is leaving this month she is giving out xmas cards to selected parents with her mob. number and the date she would be leaving on the card, even though we have made a mention of this in the monthly newsletter.

 

Toro

 

I experienced exactly the same last year, i explained that all cards needed to be given to children through the post box used by the children, she put them all in and i took them all out and binned them after she went home!

 

Two slipped through the net and these parents came to me asking why they had received these, they were confused as they said it was sad to see her go, but wouldn'tr be needing to contact her after she had left.

 

These particular members of staff have crossed the line, they are not acting professionally within their role, they obviously view some parents as their friends, which i find strange!

 

On another note what about staff and parents being friends on Facebook??

 

 

I did that today (binned the cards, before l read you reply) Thanks for the reply

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Yes I will have to have another word to jog everyone's memory even though I did it just a few weeks ago, about confidentiality.

 

They seem to have certain areas that they think are ok to talk about and certain ones that are covered by confidentiality.

Its strange how we can make our own rules up to suit ourselves.

 

Steph

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  • 2 weeks later...
Hello,

 

Is it o.k for staff to give out their mob. number to parents?, i have a staff who is leaving this month she is giving out xmas cards to selected parents with her mob. number and the date she would be leaving on the card, even though we have made a mention of this in the monthly newsletter.

 

Toro

 

I experienced exactly the same last year, i explained that all cards needed to be given to children through the post box used by the children, she put them all in and i took them all out and binned them after she went home!

 

Two slipped through the net and these parents came to me asking why they had received these, they were confused as they said it was sad to see her go, but wouldn'tr be needing to contact her after she had left.

 

These particular members of staff have crossed the line, they are not acting professionally within their role, they obviously view some parents as their friends, which i find strange!

 

On another note what about staff and parents being friends on Facebook??

 

I own my pre-school and my staff and I are friends with lots of other parents old an new on facebook I cant see any problem with this at all. We don't discuss what has been going on with children at pre-school but as with one mum, her son left yesterday and we have said we can catch up with her and find out how he is doing at school. Saying that too some of my staff have parents mobile numbers in their phones I have parents mobile numbers in my phone. I can see no problem at all with being sociable with parents outside of pre-school, this is the way that most people make their friends through their childrens. I personally dont feel there is anything wrong with this at all. I trust all of my staff and they are well aware of the boundaries between having a chat on the playground and if it is anything pre-school related they all know to say that this is a matter for pre-school and it will be discussed in school.

 

There is nothing at all wrong with being friendly with parents I feel it will make it a much more relaxed atmosphere in the setting

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Just like to add on a wider more general note, ALL staff need to know and be very clear of the consequences of 'breach of confidentiality' or 'unprofessional communications'.

 

Peggy

i agree, i have had parents ask staff to baby sit or take children home, i have now added a policy that states it is a conflict of interest to work for parents as it can be a minefield if anything goes wrong and could bring the nursery into disprepute, one staff member disregared this and it had serious repurcusions when they was conflict between her and parent, subsequently disaplinary action took p[lace---its just not worth mixing work with personal life

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I own my pre-school and my staff and I are friends with lots of other parents old an new on facebook I cant see any problem with this at all. We don't discuss what has been going on with children at pre-school but as with one mum, her son left yesterday and we have said we can catch up with her and find out how he is doing at school. Saying that too some of my staff have parents mobile numbers in their phones I have parents mobile numbers in my phone. I can see no problem at all with being sociable with parents outside of pre-school, this is the way that most people make their friends through their childrens. I personally dont feel there is anything wrong with this at all. I trust all of my staff and they are well aware of the boundaries between having a chat on the playground and if it is anything pre-school related they all know to say that this is a matter for pre-school and it will be discussed in school.

 

There is nothing at all wrong with being friendly with parents I feel it will make it a much more relaxed atmosphere in the setting

 

I have parents who are friends on my Facebook. I don't think this is a problem. Some of my friends have brought their children to the preschool too so I wouldn't stop being friends with them because I was looking after their child. I would never discuss anything that goes on at the preschool with them though.

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I think this is an interesting thread with lots of divergent opinion about what is appropriate and what is not.

 

Its about being clear in our expectations, I think and then trusting staff not to cross the line and breach confidentiality. Ours is a village setting and when practitioners live in the same village they work in there is always scope for putting one's foot in it and saying something out of turn. There is a fine line between being open and friendly with parents and being over familiar, but often parents get close to practitioners because of the very nature of the work we do. It can be especially tricky for less experienced practitioners to find the right balance in their relationships with parents and some may need more support than others to conduct themselves professionally. I personally am very grateful for the fact that I live outside the village!

 

These issues can be explored at staff meetings as a whole team, but also individually with staff members. After a recent incident in our group I took the precaution of warning one staff member that she may be asked a direct question by a friend about what had happened and together we talked about what she might say in response. At the time I worried that she might think I didn't trust her - so I started by saying "I know I don't need to say this but..." and sure enough someone did ask her a question a little while later and she was ready with her response.

 

All parents have access to both my email and mobile number but I am careful not to give parents access to the email addresses of my staff. Some parents have the mobile numbers of the staff because they babysit sometimes for them but it is made clear that this is entirely separate from pre-school. It can be difficult getting baby sitters and some children find it difficult to settle with someone they don't know well, so if parents want to hire a practitioner they feel safe with then I personally don't have a problem with it. Unless and until something goes wrong and then I guess I would need to look at it again!

 

Perhaps its one of those times when there can be no 'hard and fast' rule because we're all so different and our settings are so different?

 

Maz

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Its not just with staff that there may be issues of confidentiality - a former chair of our group was very friendly with some of the other parents and she was a real gossip. She disclosed confidential information about the family circumstances of one of our children who was on the child protection register which could have had disastrous consequences for the child involved. Thankfully it didnt and I dont know what happened regarding the chair as it was before I started working there.

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I really don't know what I feel about socialising on facebook and having parents mobile numbers in personal phone books...if staff have preschool children and invite other children to parties etc it may be legitimate but it does put staff who are not on facebook or who do not have preschool aged children at a disadvantage socially, and in my experience professionally, when parents decide to bypass the conventional route for communications and instead contact staff directly...particularly if in doing so they bypass the keyworker or manager - I think it can cause more trouble than its worth. :o

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I know many of our parents personally, partly because my own children attended our pre-school and they now attend one of the main schools that we feed into; so you often see and chat with past and current children in the playground. I have many friends who are ex and current parents and have always made it very clear that I can't discuss any work related issues outside of work. I remind them that we do operate an 'open door' policy and that they are always welcome to come in for a chat, no appointments necessary and direct them to their childs key person or the manager. This hasn't occured often thankfully. I try not to have key children whose parents I know, but that's a personal preference, some staff choose their key children because they know the family. There's also a difference between being friends and being friendly. One of my best friends I first met when her eldest attended our pre-school and though we said hello and chatted we weren't friends until our youngest both went to pre-school, nursery and now school together.

Karrie

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  • 4 weeks later...

At our nursery we hold parent and staff social events to help build relationships with our parents - thus making the parents feel more at ease and allowing us to use this to our advantage when we need to discuss anything with the parents.

 

We also actively encourage all of our staff and competent students to feedback something positive about their key children or information about their day to their parents? after all who knows the child better than who has been caring for them all day?

 

Many of our parents have mobile numbers of our staff, they often chose to use them for babysitting as they feel safe leaving the children with them and the children like the 'ladies' that care for them. I see this as a compliment to many of our staff and the hardwork they put in at work. :o

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