Parental Involvement - A Handbook for Childcare Providers

Barnardos. (2006). Parental Involvement - A Handbook for Childcare Providers.
This handbook is not about whether or not parents should be involved in their children’s education and development, that argument is long over. The majority of providers of childcare in Ireland recognise the need to establish a true partnership with parents based on trust and respect. The challenge remains, however, how to translate theory into practice. Parental involvement can be defined as engaged participation by parents in a consistent, organised and meaningful way in the consultation, planning, implementation and evaluation of programmes and activities that assist their child’s development. It includes regular two-way and meaningful communications between parents and childcare provider and involving parents in decision making. It is essential that parents play an integral role in their child’s development and that they are encouraged to be full partners in their child’s educational and social progress. This guide explores strategies that enable childcare providers to engage parents in their child’s learning and social development. It is important also that practitioners learn to allow for the level of involvement that each parent is comfortable with. Practitioners can create a climate where parents and carers are encouraged to have an active participation in decision making and are able to question, challenge and make choices concerning their child while positively affirming the professional role of staff. As part of their professional practice, practitioners must welcome parents as partners. Parents must feel there is willingness on the part of staff to communicate with them and be able to discuss mutual expectations about the child and the setting. At present, many practitioners have had little or no formal pre-service/training in relating to and communicating with parents and are not prepared adequately for how to involve parents. Partnership needs to happen in all aspects of the childcare setting. This involves information sharing about the child, the setting and its goals, and outlining approaches to curricular and activities, policy and planning. Building partnership is a daily process based on ongoing communications. To do this, it takes commitment, time and a range of skills. This handbook will give childcare providers in the various settings, whether it is day care, school age childcare or sessional pre-school services, the opportunity to reflect on what measures are in place already and how effective they are. It also offers new approaches in giving parents opportunities to participate in their child’s learning.