Working in Partnership with Parents: A Guide for Early Childhood Professionals

Barnardos. (2019). Working in Partnership with Parents: A Guide for Early Childhood Professionals.
Development and education research confirms that the more involved parents* are in their children’s learning and development, the greater chance children have to succeed. We now know that ‘parental attitudes, styles of interaction, behaviours and relationships with schools are associated with children’s social development and academic performance’ (Lopez, Kreider, & Caspe, 2004, p. 2). One of the hallmarks of a quality early childhood setting is that it works in partnership with parents to provide an environment in which babies, toddlers and young children are happy, feel they belong and can develop to their fullest potential. In this environment, parents and educators work together to share information and expertise, and to make joint decisions in order to give children rich experiences. Over the past 14 years there has been a wealth of information developed in Ireland to support professionals working in early learning and care. Most notably, Síolta, the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education, and Aistear, the Early Childhood Curriculum Framework, along with the Aistear Síolta Practice Guide. These frameworks highlight the important role that parents play in the lives of their child, and provide ideas and strategies that early childhood settings can implement to ensure real and meaningful partnership with parents. In 2018, the Government launched First: 5 A Whole-of-Government Strategy for Babies, Young Children and their Families 2019-2028, which further emphasises the critical role the family has in supporting positive experiences for young children. Educators working in the early learning and care sector 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. This guide explores strategies that will enable you to work in partnership with parents in children’s learning and social development. Building partnerships is a daily process based on ongoing communications. To do this takes commitment, a range of skills and time to reflect on the measures already in place, how effective they are and what could be done differently.