The importance of building relationships and making links with parents is crucial. The old fashion attitude towards parents by early year’s workers was definitely wrong i.e. ‘we know what is best for your child’. This was an unhelpful attitude and created an atmosphere where parents did not feel at ease. Talking to practitioners parents felt that their views were not important. Parents did not feel comfortable coming into early years setting (nursery, school) unless they had been invited or had an appointment to attend.
This approach and situation has nowadays generally changed and early year’s workers recognise that working with parents is very beneficial to children’s learning and development. As children come into settings with different experiences and many different needs, the main source of information about children is very often from their parents or main carers.
Parents should be treated as partners as they are the children’s first and most influential educators. Working together the long term benefits of a constructive partnership between parents and practitioners will have a positive impact on a child’s development and learning experiences. Parents may also feel more encouraged and supportive towards the school.
There are many ways in which children benefit when parents and practitioners work together:
Children will definitely settle more easily and feel more secure if they know that their parents and practitioners (childminder, nursery or school teacher) ‘get on’ really well.
Children will gain from having a similar routine or approach – for example, parents are able to tell practitioners what time a child normally needs a rest, eats or feels tired, dealing with difficult tantrums and what to expect, or the use of a EpiPen if a allergic reaction is trigged and any difficult toilet issues.
Practitioners and parents can work together to help a child who has a particular developmental need for example, a child with a language delay may need extra help in nursery or school with speech and some sign language enforcement i.e. Makaton which is a language program designed to help communication between individuals who cannot communicate efficiently by speaking or a child with poor pencil grip may learn the proper way of holding a pencil at school and will also help them at home when writing or drawing.
Parents/ main carers are usually the first to notice that something is bothering a child, they can pass their concerns to practitioners who can recognise and help to resolve. Small unsolved problems or situations may become big ones if not treated promptly.
Diabetes and insulin dependency is another very important area that needs to be discussed and completely covered so everyone’s aware of a child’s needs. Early year’s personnel should have an understanding of diabetes and must be trained in its management and in the treatment of diabetic emergencies.
There are many ways in which staff in settings can try to build up a good relationship between a child’s home and the setting:
In order to work effectively with parents most settings introduce an ‘open door policy’. The idea is to assure parents that they are able to talk to staff or teachers whenever they have any concerns.
This means that instead of having to make an appointment or waiting until for example parents evening, any particular concern or worry can be raised straight away. The open door policy builds trust as parents know they are always welcome to pop in and have an informal chat or view their children’s work whenever they wish. Children also benefit from this very casual approach as they can sense that parents and practitioners are work closely together.
Children can show their parents what they have been doing in their nursery or school. It is extremely important as children are excited to show off their work and achievements and they want their parents to be proud of them too.
Getting to know the parents is essential in early years setting. Workers need to be welcoming and understand the importance of parents so that avenues of communication are established. Once the relationship is build it is easier for both parents and practitioners to bring up concerns that may arise for example, child has been diagnosed as asthmatic and a pump needs to be used, parents have separated from their partner and the child is aware, a family pet has just died. These are very personal and sensitive issues so the relationship needs to be close and comfortable for both parties.
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All the children are different and have different needs the same relates to parents. For example parents may be slightly anxious as they leave their children in school for the first time from parents who are experienced and comfortable with leaving their child. We have to remember that relating to parents well is just as much a skill as working with children. Some parents will be uncomfortable talking to members of staff while others will be friendly and feel relaxed. Early years workers will learn how to listen and talk to parents as their experience and confidence grows.
There may be times when parents will need to be contacted quickly for example, child is not feeling well, had an accident etc. Exchanging emergency information its extremely important. It is vital that early years workers have the correct and update information to hand i.e. emergency numbers and addresses are usually exchanged during the admission procedure.
We should encourage parental involvement as parents often have a lot to offer settings in terms of their knowledge, interests, experience, and in volunteering for activities. Working together can also help bring the community closer together; especially in areas where there are different cultural groupings.
Many setting find that parents who come to help are able to bring in many skills and different areas of expertise. Some parents offer to help permanently i.e. ‘reading mums’ in school one a week for an hour; others may help occasionally i.e. school production. Some parents find that working as helpers boost their confidence and give them the chance to meet other parents. We have to remember that nowadays for a parent to be able to work/help in a setting he/she needs to have a current CRB check by the police.
A good working partnership between parents and settings should mean that parents enjoy coming in while the setting appreciates their time and help and the children are able to benefit from having extra adult attention. We have to realise that being friendly with parents is not the same as being friends as this may cause unnecessary problems i.e. parents asking for confidential information, or asking to let unwell child to stay in setting. Professional boundaries must be maintained at all times to avoid misunderstandings.
It can be beneficial for early years setting to establish liaisons with other agencies. As a part of the process of helping children to settle in it can be helpful to exchange or gain information from other agencies for example, a previous nursery that the child has attended or from a childminder. Other professionals might be able to give us advice as how to meet that child’s needs or might suggest strategies they used which were helpful. They may have also some information or observations or even notes about a particular child, which will be appropriate for us to see and know. Whatever information we receive from agencies should be referenced with parental consent. (The only exception – case of suspected abuse).
Working with Healthcare professionals.
If a child has a disability or emotional issues it is likely they will meet with a variety of healthcare professionals, from Doctors, Physiotherapist, Social workers, Occupational therapist, Dieticians, Orthotics, Speech or language therapist.
Parents must inform and communicate to practitioners if their child is seeing a healthcare professional, as for everyone to better understand the child’s behaviour.
For example if a child is being treated for anxiety or depression and the school is unaware of their condition, the child might be looked upon as being shy or a bad mixer when asked to participate with others, wrong diagnosis can be more harmful as the child is being left out or ignored. These experiences can cause a lasting impression on a child’s life, as can a good experience with a caring early year’s worker or teacher. Working closely with parents, teachers and healthcare professionals can only improve a child’s overall achievement and wellbeing to optimise their development and growth.
The most important relationship you can develop will be with your general practitioner (GP). Doctor’s train for at least five years after medical school to become GPs and have an extensive knowledge base with regards to many health conditions .Getting your child used to seeing your GP from an early age will have major benefits as they grow older. Being in known surroundings and seeing a familiar face will help any anxiety they might have about visiting the doctor.
Your doctor can provide a wide range of services and give advice on health issues. GPs will also refer you to hospital for treatment or to other specialist healthcare professionals. The relationship with other healthcare professionals is equally important as we need to build trust and confidence with each one.
When dealing with patients, health professionals should be truthful and respect the privacy and dignity of any patient young or old. We have the right to information about the condition of our health and any diagnosis or illness. We also have a right to be involved in any decisions with regards to any treatment or care we may receive and warned about serious side effects. Our consent must be sought after and medical records should always remain confidential.
Physiotherapists are experts in the physical treatment and the improvement of certain conditions. Physiotherapists help to restore lost movement and function to someone affected by illness, injury or other disabilities.
Social workers are professionally qualified health professionals who assess people’s needs for care or social services. They will support and find solution, to issues people find themselves in. They have good knowledge of the law, and the social welfare system.
Occupational therapists work with patients who have a physical disability, mental health issues, learning disability or medical conditions. Patients with difficulties doing everyday tasks, such as preparing a meal, going up stairs, taking a bath, or getting into bed.
Dieticians are health professionals who explain and treat diet, they assess and diagnose any nutritional problems a patient may have.
Prosthetist and orthotist
Prosthetist and orthotist provide care for anyone requiring an artificial limb, splints, braces or special footwear to assist in movement, they work with other healthcare professionals to provide treatment.
Speech and language therapist
The role of a speech and language therapist is in treating someone who has problems communicating with speech or language, by helping people of all ages, to communicate better.
A patient’s beliefs or views should be respected during their healthcare, and they should receive treatment regardless of their age, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or disability.
It is very important our healthcare professionals work as a team as they are from a variety of disciplines and have to work together to deliver a professional service for all patients. Good communication is essential for effective relationship development.
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