Question #1: Throughout the course, I have gained knowledge that Iwill be able to access when working with child care programs, parents, andchildren in my role as Inclusion Specialist. This semester, I have learned howto form positive relationships with parents and how strong partnerships withparents and community resources greatly affects child outcomes.
“Childrenthrive when they feel continuity between family and teachers….” (Gestwicki, 2016,p. 119). I am excited to share new knowledge and strategies with child care andpreschool providers on partnering with parents. I plan on developing aprofessional development opportunity on the benefits, potential barriers, andbrainstorming options for developing that connection with parents. I have hadthis request previously, but now I feel more equipped to tackle this subjectand guide others.
During the semester, I had many opportunities to bereflective on my approaches to building relationships with parents. I identifiedthe barriers I faced, any biases I had, and have my feelings validated.Gestwicki (2016, p. 116) states, “The education and care of a group of childrenare serious responsibilities for any teacher in any school, requiring enormousamounts of time and energy. The prospect of adding to this role of finding waysto communicate and engage with families may be daunting.” This quote hit homewith me. In the past, I was reluctant to work with families.
It can be awkward anduncomfortable making communication difficult. I have come away from this classwith a better understanding of how to approach parents by figuring out theirneeds, not only reaching out during negative episodes, contacting them at atime or by a medium that is best for them, and so much more. This class hashelped me grow, and I am excited to implement my newfound passion and knowledgeof parent involvement. Part of my role as Inclusion Specialist is bridging thegap between provider and parent. Oftentimes, the parent, and the provider arein conflict about how to care for the child and behavior is a concern, which isalways a difficult subject for both parties to breech. I am feeling moreconfident in my skills to mediate by focusing on the goals and success for thechild.
Parents and teachers alike want children to succeed, and it works bestif they are working together rather than against each other. I want to sharewith providers how partnering with the parent will help the child feel moresecure and decrease challenging behaviors. With the provider and parent workingside by side, we will be able to identify what each party needs in order toassist the child in building the skills to decrease behavior. “According toEpstein, Coates, Salinas, Sanders & Simon (2009) “. . . all research provesover and over again that when families are involved, not only is the children’sperformance enhanced but they also have more positive attitudes about school.”When children feel better about school and their teacher, the behaviorimproves.
Unfortunately, part of my role is assisting families whohave been expelled from a child care program due to challenging behaviors orunmet needs. Indiana is currently working on their policy on suspension andexpulsion, but in the meantime, it is still an overused and inappropriatepractice. When locating a new child care program, I want to work more closelywith families and providers in creating a strong relationship and line ofcommunication from the beginning.
“Early attitudes and behavior patterns willdetermine later limitations on a relationship or what direction it will take”(Gestwicki, 2016, p. 174). It is my responsibility to introduce the parent andchild to the new teacher and assist them in communicating needs, responsibilities,and preferences. Parents know the child best so they will be the teacher’sbiggest asset.
I am responsible for encouraging the teacher to tap into thatresource. I have a greater understanding of parent/teacher relationships. Iknow I can improve my skills as a professional by utilizing the knowledge Ihave gained on family involvement. I want to convey to teachers thatestablishing a solid foundation of a successful partnership with parents willbenefit them throughout their teaching career. Question #2: My book will be titled Empowering Parents through School Involvement. “When parents areinvolved, students exhibit more positive attitudes and motivation toward schooland have a more positive self-concept” (National PTA, 2017).
Students whohave positive attitudes toward school and their teachers behave in a positivemanner and also achieve greater success academically. Teachers and parents alsobenefit from positive relationships by gaining a happier child who is eager tolearn. As Gestwicki (2016, p.120) states, “Children also gain feelings ofself-worth if they perceive that their families are valued and respected byothers.” When the child’s teacher openly involves the parents in the classroomor in activities outside of the classroom and treats them with respect andcommunicates positively, the child will feel better about themselves, thereforereaching greater potential in the school setting.
If teachers are treatingparents negatively, not displaying trust or having an open, positive relationshipwith them, children will start to feel poorly about themselves, which in turnwill greatly affect their behavior and academic success in a negative manner(Gestwicki, 2016). This quote belongs in the book in order to impress upon thereader that self-worth, motivation and positive attitudes affectstudent-teacher relationships and also academic success. It focuses on thechild and their sense of belonging and worth in the classroom. “Parentsinvolved with school in parent-related activities show increasedself-confidence in parenting, more knowledge of child development, and anexpanded understanding of the home as an environment for student learning”(Eldridge, 2001). Parents gain numerous benefits whenpartnering with teachers in a collaborative relationship. “An immediate benefitis the feeling of support in carrying out the responsibilities of parenthood”(Gestwicki, 2016, p.
121). When parents feel supported and gain new skills,children and families are happier, more patient with each other, demonstrateempathy more often, and are empowered to take on any challenge. Gestwicki (2016,p.124) said it best, “Empowered parents function at their best,” which hasnumerous benefits for the child. When parents have another trusting adult tovent frustrations to, they relieve stress, which helps them function better asa parent and able to handle those frustrations better in the future. Asteachers support parents and acknowledge their strong parenting skills,parents’ self-esteem is built up. As parents feel better about themselves andtheir skills, children earn more praise, positive attention and interactions.
Overall, parents, teachers and children benefit most from the implications ofthis quote. “Documentationmakes it possible for parents to become intimately and deeply aware of theirchildren’s experience in the school” (Katz & Chard, 1996). Itis extremely important for teachers to keep documentation on each studentthroughout the year. Developmental screenings, academic test scores, milestoneschecklists, anecdotal records, samples of completed work, videos or picturedocumentation of skill progression, a portfolio are all examples ofdocumentation that will help the parent understand how their child isdeveloping and their overall success in school.
“Sharing the portfolio atconference time provides real evidence to parents of the process of learning”(Gestwicki, 2016, p. 235). As teachers provide informal observation notes onbehavior, parents learn to trust that the provider is making note of successfuland disruptive behaviors of their child.
A parent will feel positively aboutthe teacher and their interactions with and the attention they are giving toeach child. By providing documentation, teachers and parents are able to deepentheir relationship and understanding of the child (Gestwicki, 2016). Whenparents and teachers are on the same page, children benefit in many ways. Oneway they benefit comes from parents and teachers working together to meet theneeds of the child. Teachers and parents can develop a clear plan for behavioror development from the documentation collected. “Theantidote for a stressful, chaotic environment is an environment built around anurturing, home-like routine that is not overstimulating” (Klein, Bittel, &Molnar, 1993).
At the beginning of the year or as ateacher comes into a new classroom, the first item on the agenda should begetting to know the parents and the child, including culture and home routines.Teachers can send out questionnaires, schedule a meet and greet or simplystrike up conversation at pick-up or drop-off times. Teachers should not makeassumptions about what home life is like or put any other culturallystereotyped assumptions onto the child and family with what little informationthey have informally gathered through observations (Gestwicki, 2016).
“Jumpingto conclusions that arise from stereotyped assumptions about a family’s culturecan be avoided when teachers take the time to form relationships that lead toreal knowledge of families” (Gestwicki, 2016, p. 249). As teachers gather this “realknowledge” (Gestwicki, 2016, p. 249), they are able to be more nurturing,understanding and sensitive to each family’s unique needs.
Just because thepopulation at the school is predominately one race or another, doesn’t meanthere aren’t different beliefs, morals, or otherwise acceptable standards ofliving for each family, which comprises their family culture (Gestwicki, 2016).Students are the overall benefactors of the importance of this quote. When teachersare sensitive to their individual needs and classroom routines are respectfulof their home life, children perform better and build stronger relationshipswith teachers.
“TellMe, I’ll forget. Show me, I may remember. But involve me and I will understand”(DiNatale, 2002). As parents are invited into the classroomto volunteer or work with the teacher, they start to gather a greaterunderstanding of what’s going on in the classroom. “Parents have often equatedschool with purely cognitive learning and are sometimes surprised and dismayedto learn that good early childhood classrooms emphasize more than academiclearning” (Gestwicki, 2016, p.
259). Through these opportunities to worktogether in the classroom, parents are gaining a better understanding ofoverall child development. They are able to observe and understand how childreninteract, behave and learn.
This is particularly important for parents who haveno previous knowledge about child development. “They can observe typicalbehaviors and skills for a cross section of children the same age . .
.”(Gestwicki, 2016, p.260). As I shared before, parents who are involved in theclassroom gain more self-esteem and positive parenting skills because of thisunderstanding. Teachers are modeling, explaining and involving them in thelearning process and throughout daily routines, which gives them the besttakeaways for positive discipline, activities to try at home, and development.Parents and children benefit from this quote. When parents are growing andlearning, children have more success in all areas of development.
“Inyour communications as an educator, include positive comments about the child’ssuccesses and express your respect for the parents’ efforts in helping theirchild develop as fully as possible” (Ray, Kinder & George, 2009). Thiswill create more parent buy-in during daily conversations or conferences. “Itis important to indicate to parents at the outset that you like and appreciatetheir child” (Gestwicki, 2016, p. 239). Teachers should make it clear toparents that they have paid attention to their child by sharing positiveobservations first. “A positive opening comment also removes any lingeringconcern a parent may have about the purpose of a conference” (Gestwicki, 2016,p239).
As teachers share positive remarks and observations about the child,parents can let their guard down and relax to fully participate in theconversation. Positive remarks help the parents feel like they are successfulparents who have contributed positively to their child’s development. Whenparents feel empowered, they are more willing to share and be involved(Gestwicki, 2016).
As parents become more involved, student performance in allareas increase. Conversations between parents and teachers will be more successfulwhen positive outcomes and comments are shared first. In a roundabout way, thisbenefits everyone as parent-teacher relationships are strengthened with mutualrespect, the child will also benefit from the strong relationship and unitedfront.