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Hi all.

 

Recently 3 staff from our school (reception teacher, nursery teacher and me) attended the "are you self evaluating in the early years foundation stage" course.

 

From this, and our "homework" we realised that although we have strong links with parents what we currently need to address is parents coming into nursery or reception to "help".

 

The area we serve is a socially deprived area and as a (very) general rule we have some cohorts of parents who are very supportive and others............ not all!

 

Anyway I sent out a questionnaire.

Asked parents if they would like to come in to nursery /reception, what would they like to do/ etc

 

It seems that yes some parents would like to come in and a parents rota seems to be wanted.

 

Now, many many moons ago I remember a parents rota from my daughters playgroup, I think each parent had to do one session a month.............. but I am not sure where to go from here to get this started in September

 

Can anyone offer me advice please as to how they manage parental involvement in nursery or reception class?

 

How is a rota organised? Is there a rota???!!!!!

 

Do parents stay all session?

 

Would a meeting with any parents interested be a good idea?

We could then discuss ethics and confidentiality before they came in?

 

I want this to work and I want to pick the brains please of those who gone before me.................... to hopefully stop myself falling flat on my face with this one!!

 

Anticipating wise words from you.............. thank you!

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I can see that you want this to work but I have very mixed feelings about this directive from above.

 

Where parents pay for childcare (whether directly or through the NEG) I find it a little galling that we are expected to also pull them in to help. For many parents, and indeed children, time spent at pre school is a 'break' from each other. Presumably some or many parents will be using the time to work, after all this is what I think the government wants to achieve with funding child care.

 

I also worry about lots of parents who are not crb checked or qualified in any way, coming into settings to work with children.

 

We have decided against a rota, but I suggested that maybe we could ask parents to volunteer for other jobs that might not have to take place in setting time, e.g. doing displays, helping to set up outside area, etc.

 

What we have had is parents coming in to share expertise in a short whole group session, which to me is a much more useful approach. For instance, a dad came in and played some guitar to the children and did some singing, a mum came in and helped the children build a bug box for their garden, etc. If you had parents with EAL, they could perhaps come in and teach a few words in their home language, etc. etc.

 

Sorry if that is not much help but I am not sure about this bit of the EYFS (and other bits as well!)

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We used to have in our prospectus that we expected parents/carers to help at one session per half term, but as said above you can no longer do this due to funding constraints, you cannot make any demands of parents pf funded children. We have replaced this with a paragraph saying how beneficial it is if parents are able to come in and help, etc.

 

However, we place a parents rota on our notice board every term and so far this year we have had two helpers!

 

To be honest unless parents are coming in regularly, they tend to not be much of a help and just use it as an opportunity to ask lots of questions about their child.

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we don't have a rota as such, but we do tell parents they are very welcome to come in to help, or to stay and play.

The other group in our village INSIST that every parent has to come in on a day designated by the setting and they cannot bring any younger children in with them.If they cannot, or won't do the rota, the parent must find a swap, or pay for a member of staff to come in instead! This doesn't always go down well, as you might imagine!!

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Goodness, that seems a bit harsh! Plus you have the added problem of confidentiality - although they may say that they understand this, many often don't realise that they are breaching this with their chats to other parents. 'Your child was a ratbag today' I have heard in the past, and 'I had to sit with your child at lunch 'cos he's the only one who can't manage a spoon' type of thing.

Other parents don't want to hear this - from another parent especially, and sadly for some, knowledge is power. Knowing which parents you think you can 'trust' to use discretion isn't always simple either.

We used to have a parent's rota - a sheet in the entrance where parents could write their name down, but sadly found that many just didn't turn up - or their child either for that session, which was actually leaving us out of pocket sometimes. We had one totally reliable, willing and interested parent who we called on regularly to help. She lived opposite and if the rota parent was a no-show we used to open the window at the front as a signal that we needed her!

We employed her quite quickly and she did her NVQ3 and became a fabulous member of the team who has now moved on to the school nursing team

Edited by Possum
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As a school setting, if parents want/ wish to come and help that is ok. They do not need to be CRB checked but you do need to remember that they should not be alone with a group or an individual where they can not be seen by a member of staff so that can be a bit difficult. (In my LEA, if they come in regularly ie we have had a daily volunteer then they do need CRBs.)

 

You only need a rota to allow the parents to self select when they are coming which I have seen work well or to ensure that any regular parents coming in do so on different days, if that is what you want.

 

Good luck.

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Thanks for the thoughts so far!!

 

Obviously both of our sessions are funded sessions and there would be no EXPECTATION that the parents come in but to build relationships etc I want to offer the opportunity in a way that will benefit all concerned!

 

A few parents have said they would like to do it regularly.. but as they won't be part of our ratios it wouldn't matter if they didn't come.

 

I want to give it a go but have already contemplated many of the things mentioned here in this thread already and its scary!!!!!!

 

Will hope more thoughts come along!!

 

Thanks everyone!

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We did 'Share a Session' each term. I put up a table with all the sessions available and if parents wanted to come in they wrote their name in the relevant session box so we knew if someone was in on that day. The uptake was quite poor but some parents really enjoyed coming in. The children were also excited to have their mum or dad in to show them round etc.

 

We found it was the least stressful way for parents as there was no expectation that they 'perform' in any way and they got to see what went on in the session.

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Our local pre-school insists on parents having a rota to help out and when they are there there are shut in the kitchen to do washing up and cleaning paint pots etc. It is the only time the kitchen door is closed but they don't like the parents seeing what is going on or the child being distracted by parent's presence.

 

I used to keep opening the door when I was there precisely so I could see what was going on but they didn't like it.

 

Needless to say we didn't last there long!

 

I think if it is done properly it could be a lovely way of getting parents involved in their child's education. I would be tempted to ask them all to sign a confidentiality policy at the beginning so they understand their responsibilities. You could explain that the staff have to sign it too.

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Scarlettangel you have started this project off so well: doing a quesionnaire to find out what parents want is such a positive start. They have told you that they want to come in and be part of their child's education and so you are pushing at an open door. I think your idea of an initial meeting with the core of parents who actively want to do this is a great idea - you could explore the fantastic benefits to them and to their children of the project, but also to identify the potential pitfalls.

 

You would obviously have thought all this through before the meeting, but the issues that arise from this discussion would obviously include confidentiality, safeguarding, and the more practical matter of what they actually do during their time with you. Some will want to be in the kitchen washing up, some will want to watch their child at play and some may even want to lead a whole-group or small-group activity based around their own skills or interests. I feel that any of these approaches is fine: the important thing is that they feel welcomed and valued and are not taken too far out of their comfort zone to begin with.

 

Hopefully once this core of people begin to get involved (and talk to other parents about how much they have enjoyed themselves and how much more they understand what goes on in the setting) you will get others who will want to share the experience, too. If you have a core of people who are coming in regularly then you could get them CRB checked and co-ordinate their days, as Susan suggested. A rota could be put up for people to say when they would be available and would like to come, but the minute this becomes seen as 'expected' then it is likely that you will have lots of blank spaces.

 

There are lots of us who are a testament to the fact that not only does parent partnership work, but also that it can help recruit people committed to the job, as Possum pointed out. I am grateful that MrsWeasley's pre-school supervisor spotted that this dejected little soul was coming in a bit earlier than she should every day desperate for some grown up conversation. She offered me a broom to help sweep up whilst chatting about what had happened during the morning and pretty soon was asking if I'd like to come in and stay for a session to watch the daughter in action, and then asking me if I could do a bit of cover when someone went on a training course and then tentatively asking if I'd like to join the team.

 

Before I knew where I was I had a childcare qualification, then degree, and now Early Years Professional Status but it all started by sweeping up a pile of sand and because a dedicated professional recognised that I had something to offer even if I did need a lot of hand holding, support and encouragement.

 

So I say go for it wholeheartedly, Scarlettangel - you never know what talent you might be uncovering amongst your parents but once you know it is there you can exploit it shamelessly!

 

Good luck with your venture, and I'm sorry for the self-indulgent reminiscing on my part!

 

Maz

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I think the self indulgence was just fine Maz!!

 

We all need a bit now and then!!

 

You have done so well you should be proud and you should indulge whenever you can!!!

 

Thank you for your thoughts.

I do so want to get it right, because if it doesn't go well not only will it be disappointing, but I also know exactly who will get the blame!!!!!!!!!!

 

(ME)

 

I am inwardly digesting comments and contemplating whole heartedly!!

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well alison p i would be very worried if that happened to me- i would wonder what exactly it was they didint want me to see.also i would be very upset to think that i had given up my time only to be shut away to wash up things. this is all so wrong and wont encourage parents at all

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What a huge amount of thought and effort you have put into this issue. I am shocked at some of the expectations with rotas! I am in a school setting and started out with rotas but my termly newslletters now encourage a 'pop in session' when it fits with time or insparation for parents. There is no pressure in any way.You are doing a wonderful job so don't feel you have to take any blame whatsoever. Your setting is very fortunate to have someone so dedicated to seeking parent -partnerships. luluj

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well alison p i would be very worried if that happened to me- i would wonder what exactly it was they didint want me to see.also i would be very upset to think that i had given up my time only to be shut away to wash up things. this is all so wrong and wont encourage parents at all

 

You would have been right to wonder what was going on. My (and now your) suspicions were later confirmed and Ofsted were involved in making some very important improvements. The lack of consideration for the feelings of the parent shut in the kitchen were an indicator of the whole ethos of the setting.

 

Maz is quite right that some parents are happier quietly blending into the background by staying in the kitchen washing up but they should still be given the opportunity to observe their child and learn a little about the routines and activities of the setting.

 

Children can gain so much from these sorts of links. I say go for it and encourage the parents to come in a share what they feel able. You never know, Scarlettangel, you may find yourself a Maz.

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What an interesting thread!

 

Like Maz - my beginnings in Early Years came from being a 'mum helper'......I was a very young mum and worried that they wouldn't really want my help (goodness I was soooo insecure in those days) - anyway I loved it - they loved me and the rest is history!!! :o

 

Sunnyday

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Hi

I agree parents should be encouraged into help, their strengths can only improve a setting, i have encouraged lots of parents in the past to come in and help, all of whom have gone onto complete training i currently have one who has just completed nvq2 and is nearly finished nvq3 and she is then going on to do her foundation degree, when she came to me she couldn't say boo to a goose she was so timid not anymore.

but i do think it is sad we can no longer do this , we can have parents in, but funding is no longer available to train them or at least not in leics. and most cannot afford to pay for themselves, so many potentially really good practitioners will be lost.

 

kiz

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