The Importance of Communication With Parents in EYFS

January 7, 2019 10:31 am
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In relation to the importance of communication with parents in the EYFS, The Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) seeks to provide ‘partnership’ working between practitioners and parents. It states that key workers should build ‘relationships’ with parents, keep them up-to-date with their child’s progress, respond to observations that they share, involve them in assessments and support them to guide their child’s development at home.

Parent’s have the right to play a central role in making decisions about their child’s education and care and their partnerships are key to a successful early years experience for children and for them to gain the most out of their early education and reach expected levels of development.

Over 70% of children’s lives are spent, not in a setting, but with their families and the wider community. Therefore home and community must be recognised as significant learning environments in the lives of children.

We have put this short article together for you so you can learn;

  1. Why communication with parents in the early years is so important
  2. Opportunities you can take to enhance communication with parents
  3. How to build good relationships with parents’/guardians
  4. How you can evidence your parent partnerships within your setting

Children attending nurseries used to be commonly associated with parents being able to go to work. Recently, it has become more about children developing social skills, preparing for school and growing in an enabling environment. This is where communication with parents is essential.

A universal thread that’s applicable to all children in Early Years settings is the high level of communication. This must be retained between parents/carers and their chosen childcare provider.

  1. Why communication with parents is so important

The responsibility usually falls to the key person to ensure an effective relationship is built and to share information at the beginning and end of the day and also at various other points such as meetings to discuss development.

As it is widely known, communication with parents is important for a variety of reasons and this is why Ofsted will often require evidence that parent partnerships are taking place.

One of the most significant, is its ability to break down boundaries between parents and the setting – and this, in turn, benefits the children in the followings ways:

  • Parent’s know their children best
  • Parents can be encouraged to discuss issues, talk about any concerns and get advice from Key Workers/Support Staff that has a broad knowledge and experience of child development.
  • Parents can be engaged in the learning process. Evidence suggests this joint working benefits children who learn and develop better by having support from their childcare provider and at home.
  • To make transitions throughout the setting smooth
  • It paves the way for open feedback where parents feel comfortable raising concerns with their childcare provider, knowing it will be heard and addressed in a comfortable environment.
  • It can help keep children safe. After all, open communication helps with safeguarding and child protection in feeling safe enough to talk about any problems they may have especially at home.

Most importantly, if parents feel they can talk openly to their childcare provider, it brings peace of mind. After all, depending on the child’s age, nearly all information about what’s happened during their day will come directly from their Key Worker. And for many parents, feeling informed and still involved helps ease the emotions that can be associated with being away from your child for any length of time.

2. Opportunities to enhance communication with parents

There are many ways settings can engage and involve parents through communication. Here are some popular and proven techniques:

  1.  Communication Diaries
  2.  Notice Boards
  3.  Newsletters – emailed and hard copies
  4.  Daily Updates – text or email
  5.  Learning Journey
  6.  Parent forums
  7.  Activity days and special events where parents are invited into the setting to complete activities with their child.
  8.  Questions asked and discussion initiated during drop off
  9.  2 Year Progress Check
  10.  Target setting

It is important to remember some parents are less well represented than others in early years settings. These include fathers, parents who live apart from their children, and working parents. This may mean that different strategies are needed for involving them and that consultation is necessary to find out what works best. Information should be provided in ways that are accessible to parents with basic skills, specific needs or those who have English as an additional language.

Our communication diaries are an excellent resource allowing parents and practitioners to communicate daily about a child.

The Early Years blog Nursery Nook rated our communication diaries 4 stars!

Nursery Nook said ‘As a simple diary it is an effective tool from home to setting and would be useful for many parents who often want more information about their child, especially those who have children in care for the entire day. It would also be useful in cutting down some of the time required to communicate this information to parents at the end of the day when they are in a rush or when you have a lot of parents to talk to. It acts as a good scaffold of notes to make during the day and would be ideally situated where practitioners could add to it throughout the session’.

3. Building Relationships

Engaged parents who feel well informed and involved are likely to develop a stronger bond with their childcare provider which has further benefits for the setting. For example, nurseries are privately owned and so the impression you leave with parents can play a significant role in the testimonials and mouth-to-mouth referrals that are received. This, in turn, will help influence the reputation that your nursery develops locally. This is known as ‘Parents as Partners’.

What’s more, satisfied parents are more likely to raise issues sooner and come directly to the setting rather than telling others, meaning you have the opportunity to put things right as soon as possible. As you can see professional, effective communication between parents and the setting can play a significant role in the overall performance of the setting and how a child develops.

4. How to evidence parent partnerships

  • Daily diaries –These may be paper or electronic and are useful for all ages, particularly younger children. These can be written in by practitioners and parents to share any information about how a child has been during the day or night such as feeds if they have been unwell, meals bottles and nappies.
  • Learning Journals – These can be online or on paper. Some settings choose to send these home for parents to add any new achievements or special pieces of work
  • Pets – Some settings have small pets such as guinea pigs or hamsters. These can go home with a child for a sleepover and a diary can be completed.
  • Parents evenings – These allow practitioners and parents more time to discuss their child’s development in more detail
  • Coffee mornings and advice workshops – These can be held as often as the setting can manage and are an opportunity for parents to come into the setting and have a chat with all key members of the staff
  • All about me forms – Completed with the parents when a child first starts the setting. This should give practitioners all the information they need about a child and they can also include how a child has progressed in their development as they move through the years.
  • Two-year check – A great chance for multi-agency working between practitioner, parent and health visitors.
  • Display boards – Where parents and practitioners can add comments, photos or pieces of work
  • Newsletters – These can keep parents up to date with the latest topics, events and the learning that has taken place that week, month or term

Our learning Journey comes in a variety of formats and is an efficient way of recording and organising observations, child’s development, next steps and plans. It also allows parents to add artwork and ‘wow moments’ to the record, assisting with parent/practitioner communication.

The early years blogger Nursery Nook reviewed our learning journey and said ‘ Many of the pages within the book are designed to give practitioners space to place observations and designs. What I do like is that there is a page for ‘wow’ moments and many settings fail to collect these. I know many parents enjoy being able to interact online with their child’s journey, but at the end of the year they love to take away a folder with memories to cherish.’

Related Resources

10 ideas for creating a learning journey  A Learning Journey is an effective way to collect evidence of a child’s development and is perfect for encouraging parental involvement and interest

Big School Stepping Stones Pack This parent-and-child-friendly progress chart is a fantastic aid to help any child prepare for starting school.

Useful Links

Early Years Foundation Stage – Effective practice: Parents as Partners

Pre-school Learning Alliance – Involving parents in their children’s learning

Parenta – Parents as partners – The EYFS principle

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