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I am struggling with separating the ideas of ‘parental partnership’ and ‘parental involvement’ and wondered if anyone would like to start a discussion. I work in a village pre-school and feel that I have a good relationship with many of the parents.

I've been studying this for my foundation degree... and wonder if anyone has any views to help me sort this out in my mind...

 

Parents support the pre-school really well and attend any ‘events’ enthusiastically. We regularly share information with parents and ask for their comments which nearly every parent does, which we then use to inform our planning. Parents can put a star on our ‘celebration wall’ which can be exciting things happening at home (which we get lots of) or developmental achievements (which we never get any of!) I will often share snippets of information about child development with parents, so for example when I recently observed a child who had drawn a range of circles and lines and said he written his name, I showed the parents and explained how this amazing it was to see this child’s achievements and how he was showing an understanding that those ‘squiggles’ mean something! I think it is really important to share this kind of knowledge with parents but I’m also realistic enough to know that some parents just aren’t interested. I have tried many different ways to get parents into the setting to ‘help’ or ‘play’ but we don’t really get much of a response – maybe 2 parents a term...

 

The PSLA draft policies include a ‘parental involvement’ policy and then talks about have ‘partnership’ with parents!

 

My head is going round in circles at the moment trying to think about my ‘values and beliefs’ . There are some areas which I would like to improve and others that are working well for us, but I also need to consider that if parents are to contribute to development files and profiles then they surely need to understand them as well as I do! And that just isn’t going to happen.... I’m sure that if I was to ask all my parents if their child could count upto 10, every one of them would say yes, even though I know many of them are just reciting the numbers in the correct order.

 

Does anyone have any views on this area that they would like to share?

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I think that parents can (and do at my setting) "contribute to development files and profiles" without the need to understand them as well as I do. I have development statements on the wall and 'look listen note' as well and when parents tell me something that their child has done I'll often point out a statement it relates to and note this in their child's file with a 'Mum reports that...' comment.

 

Parents just need to know that their knowledge and comments about their child are important to us, and our Wow wall has comments from Parents and Staff about childrens' progress.

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Hi Mps09,

 

I can't help you too much with your question but just wanted to say it sounds like you are doing a fantastic job with parents already :o

 

For me the most important thing in our relationships with parents is to build communication to as high a level as possible so that they feel comfortable discussing any worries they have and you have plenty of opportunity to get to know them and what they think of their child's learning, needs etc. Having lots of parents attending your events and using the celebration wall and you taking the time to talk to them and share the children's achievements sounds perfect to me!

 

I don't really agree with parents contributing to the profiles. I think it would be so complicated to try and get them doing observations (if that is the way they would contribute?)- it took me a while to feel confident doing them and I had lots of placements and training time to practise! I also think it could throw up some negatives between settings and parents; lots of parents could feel quite pressurised by being asked to be involved and there would be lots of potential for competitiveness between some... it just seems to create opportunities for stress that nobody really needs!

 

Thank you for starting this topic, I am keen to hear what other people think xD

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I have development statements on the wall and 'look listen note' as well and when parents tell me something that their child has done I'll often point out a statement it relates to and note this in their child's file with a 'Mum reports that...' comment.

 

Thanks Cait! What a good idea - sometimes the most obvious things are the ones I miss! :o I could see how this would work, we have a 'celebration wall' and I would like parents to contribute to their child's development but we just get a lot of 'xxx ate all their tea', 'slept all night', which are all good to celebrate but with some look, listen and note statements perhaps we could move this on....

 

lots of parents could feel quite pressurised by being asked to be involved and there would be lots of potential for competitiveness between some...

I do also agree with this though! xD

 

It is really interesting to see how this works for others in practice, and what views others thinks. Thank you both for replying.

 

I hope get more views too! :(:(:(

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Hi Smizzle and welcome. Sorry but i have to disagree that parents cannot add to the profiles, statements, etc through observations.

Parents maybe best placed to capture and experience unique opportunities with their children, and who better to have share them with us.

If you are concerned that the content may not be as you have been taught to do them, think of them as away of communicating with a parent, how or where these may fit in to a child's learning journey, giving ideas for next steps or other possible learning styles.

Just another thought. :o

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I think different settings will have differing forms of "parent partnership" which suit their parents.

I think this changes constantly with the chages of cohort.

 

Only a couple of our parents contribute to the learning journeys and when they do its with photos/ postcards/ leaflets from trips etc and we help the children put these into their book along with any information shared by the parent.

 

Whilst I would like more parents to contribute if they don't its not because they can't!!

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I have recently taught this module on a foundation degree and to be honest it sounds like you do lots to work in partnership with parents. That's not to say anyone's practice can't be improved on or developed further, and well done to you for reflecting on your work.

 

However some of the descriptions of "parental partnership" I heard from some of my students really worried me. Parents were seen more as an inconvenience than an important part of the child's life, and the students discussed how difficult it was to "get rid" of them in a morning, because, horror of horrors, the parent wanted to stay and read a story with their child, and any others who wanted to listen, first thing in the morning before going to work! Bearing in mind that this might be the only time the parent had to stop and spend time with the child I was really quite upset that practitioners felt this way. Even more upset as I realised their settings had good and outstanding Ofsted reports.

 

I do think parents can contribute to a child's development record without knowing the EYFS but I think the most important thing is that the parent feels comfortable enough to share information with the setting, however they do that. It sounds as though you are doing that.

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Thank you also for your replies 'bridger', 'scarlettangel' and 'holly35'.

 

Is it just an 'educating' thing then to get parents adding to the child's learning journey - how do they know what sort of things to add? I like Cait's idea of 'look, listen and note' statements on display because I'm sure this would help.

 

I'm aware that I might be 'stereotyping' parents as not being informed enough to contribute but I obviously need to consider WHY they don't ever do it. oohh I feel a questionnaire coming on - but I don't think I cover that until the next chapter of my University book! :o:(xD

 

 

Holly35 - I can understand how upsetting this is about parents being a nuisance, and I would never feel that way about a parent wanting to stay. However, we have a very close-knit parental group, ie. big groups of friends and they do have a habit of just standing around having a chat about tomorrow coffee morning.... while we are needing to lock the gate and allow the children their free flow! We've do provide them with lots of opportunities to get together for a natter! so we do sometimes get a bit 'now then ladies time to go!'.

 

It can also be difficult to manage this when a child is upset. This is another area which I would welcome sharing my experiences and views... if no one minds we 'waffling' on!

 

I have studied a lot of information about attachment theory and the importance of the Key Person approach. As a consequence I have instigated weeekly 'stay and play' sessions for new parents to bring their children along to during the weeks before they are due to start with us (in fact one parent has been coming since January and her child is due to start after Xmas!). This has been fantastic, sessions are just 40minutes one afternoon a week and we just get to know the children and their parents. All the children who have come to these sessions have settled so well without any tears at all. So an all round success :(

 

BUT there are parents who don't want to or can't come to these sessions and just want their child in as soon as possible for whatever reason. And here is where I struggle with good practice/theory/and workable practice. While I agree with the theory and the need to form a bond before seperating from parents, some parents actually want to leave their child as soon as they can and this can then lead to tears. Then I feel that it is better for parents to leave quickly and let the child get used to being at the setting. We then find that when other parents who linger it makes it more difficult for the child to settle and a crying child doesn't make them leave any sooner!

 

But then I also think that parents who bring their child in 'for a look round' and then start sessions the following week and leave them straight off - and by us allowing this practice - aren't thinking of the child's best interests - and neither are we - so I am more inclined to suggest that we INSIST parents visit us for 4/5 weeks before the child starts. But then again what about working parents - this would be a nightmare.

 

Again, other's experience of practices would be very gratefully received!

 

Thank you for 'listening' to me :( :wacko: xD :rolleyes:

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Does it really matter that the parents dont understand the EYFS? We are the professionals so we can interpret the observation the parents make.

 

I like your idea Cait of pointing out the statements, I bet it helps staff too. I know I need help these days so I might instgate the same method at playgroup :o

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Thank you for the welcome bridger!

 

This is making me think! After what I said in my last post I do actually really like Cait's way of doing it... I do like the idea of writing down things that parents tell you and adding them to profiles, sounds like a great way of using good communication with parents to support profiles and find out more about what the children are like at home.

 

Stay and play sounds brilliant too! :o

 

I suppose really the only thing I don't like the idea of is asking parents to write observations down like we would, but then does anyone actually do that? Chatty and informal definitely sounds like a great way of doing it to me!

 

I hope I didn't make it sound like I don't think parents are capable of contributing observations (apologies if it came across like that!), of course they know the kids better than anyone and I'm sure when it is done as Cait does it most of them would enjoy it rather than feel stressed like I kind of imagined!

 

How do people do it with parents who work/don't drop off or pick up their child? Do you use some kind of home book?

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This is making me think!

 

Hi, Smizzle

 

Me too! and that's why I'm loving my course so much! good and bad it makes to think about what you do, whether it is 'right' and how it might be changed.

 

I do think it is difficult to envisage how something might work that is different to what you/I might currently do. And I also think it can be difficult to instigate changes withour good 'proof' that it works/is valuable to our work (especially if you have to convince loooooonnnnnnngggggg standing colleagues who have been doing things for years! :wacko: :(

 

I will definitely be trying Cait's idea (if you don't mind me 'stealing' it Cait! :o ) as I can see how that might engage parents in offering contributions.

 

Thanks to everyone for their replies, all views are valid and make for a jolly good discussion! :(xD:(

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How do people do it with parents who work/don't drop off or pick up their child? Do you use some kind of home book?

 

As I mentioned before we have a 'celebration wall' which parents add to with a star post-it, but it is only ever things like 'ate all their dinner', was kind to their sister', etc. which is great in itself but I would like to move this onto more developmental areas.....

 

In answer to your question, yes we do use a home book for parents who don't drop off/collect their child regularly but I have also added a section on our webite 'submit a star' so parents can do this on-line and then I just write it on the post-it for them.

 

x x x x

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I will definitely be trying Cait's idea (if you don't mind me 'stealing' it Cait! :o ) as I can see how that might engage parents in offering contributions.

 

No of course I don't mind - I'll see if I can find the originals for the wall lists for you - they've been done a good few years now!

 

As I mentioned before we have a 'celebration wall' which parents add to with a star post-it, but it is only ever things like 'ate all their dinner', was kind to their sister', etc. which is great in itself but I would like to move this onto more developmental areas.....

 

 

You can get something more about "ate all their dinner" if you ask a couple of questions, show them the wall list and see if there's something that it covers - eg. with the dinner are they 'communicating preferences'? 'Learning that they have similarities and differences that connect them to, and distinguish them from, others'? 'Seek to do things for themselves, knowing that an adult is close by, ready to support and help if needed'? etc. Once the parent sees these things written down they'll understand the need for a teeny bit more information.

 

Quick edit to say we have home diaries too, and we're getting some fabulous comments in those as I'm occasionally asking direct questions, such as "Jenny was concerned about the plaster on my finger this morning - have you seen her being concerned like this at home?" and this helps enormously too. Of course there are things we may never see in the development statements on a day to day basis and Parents provide these regularly in our 'come and share' sessions and become really involved in organising next steps. Those parents who work and we don't see are often on facebook in the evening, and I chat on there with them. It all helps to build the relationship. It's nice that past parents still come and share on there when their children have moved on too!

Edited by Cait
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You can get something more about "ate all their dinner" if you ask a couple of questions, show them the wall list and see if there's something that it covers - eg. with the dinner are they 'communicating preferences'? 'Learning that they have similarities and differences that connect them to, and distinguish them from, others'? 'Seek to do things for themselves, knowing that an adult is close by, ready to support and help if needed'? etc. Once the parent sees these things written down they'll understand the need for a teeny bit more information.

 

Thanks again Cait! You make it sound so obvious! :o I can really see now how this would work, sometimes you really need to just hear it from others to have it make sense - I think perhaps I am too literal about what I read and should start thinking outside the box a bit!

 

This has been so helpful.

 

Thanks again.

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Right - I couldn't find the original so I've made a fresh one - you may find you don't need page 3 up, as that's the 'top end' of CLL. Mine's laminated on the reverse of page 2 so I can look if I need to. The colour bands are the age bands - I don't put the ages on as parents sometimes think their child is 'behind' if I'm pointing to something below their actual age. So purple is 8-20, Red is 16-26, Amber is 22-36, Green is 30-50, Black is 40-60 and Bold Black is the ELG

 

Hope it's helpful to you!

wall_eyfs.pdf

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Right - I couldn't find the original so I've made a fresh one - you may find you don't need page 3 up, as that's the 'top end' of CLL. Mine's laminated on the reverse of page 2 so I can look if I need to. The colour bands are the age bands - I don't put the ages on as parents sometimes think their child is 'behind' if I'm pointing to something below their actual age. So purple is 8-20, Red is 16-26, Amber is 22-36, Green is 30-50, Black is 40-60 and Bold Black is the ELG

 

Hope it's helpful to you!

 

Hi Cait,

 

Thanks for this - it's really great - will let you know how I get on!

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