Collaboration with parents in any early years’ setting is highlighted as being an essential requirement by all within the sector (Duffy, 2011), a point that is emphasised by its recognition in the statutory framework for EYFS (2014).
However, there are many complexities that can arise, particularly more so when dealing with children that have learning difficulties. Practitioners must effectively engage with these families and carers when offering both support and information (SEND 2015; The Children and Families Act, 2014). These principles should be carried forward throughout the process of intervention and when dealing with an array of multi-agencies to ensure that children’s development and welfare is being addressed as a priority.In accordance with the Children’s Act 1989 (cited in Garrett, 2014), to safeguard and ensure that children are protected from abuse is a priority to every practitioner.
Despite its importance, there remains obstacles such as the difficulties of early intervention and even multi-agency collaboration. there are still many families that fail to receive services early enough, as a result of high thresholds for service access (Sheppard, 2009, Sodha, 2009). However, there have been measures introduced over the years to tackle these problems, such as the common assessment framework. The DfE (2017) states that it is essential that ” there is a strong partnership between practitioners and parents and/or carers” and that their needs are listened to and met effectively (Parra-Cardona et al 2017).
The underlying aims of the CAF (Early help assessment ) include this factor as it was to assess all children who were considered to be in need (The Children’s Act 1989), as well as to identify and implement preventative strategies at an early stage. This then permits local agencies to carry out their responsibilities of identifying and actioning against emerging problems (Brotman et al. 2016). Successful partnerships require trust, on both sides, as well as the knowledge that both parties are included in the decision making process (Reschly & Christenson, 2012). According to Moorman and Litwack (2007), developing partnership with parents is important as it helps to develop skills and knowledge therefore they can support children with their development of children’s cognitive and metacognitive skills.
It can help practitioners significantly to understand a parent’s perspective as well as giving them an insight into how the child is learning (Adams, 2012). Therefore I strongly believe that we should maintain regularly contact and engagement with families. However, as I have been working with SEN children I have found that many parents are in denial of the needs of the children due to various reasons such as a lack of understanding, education, family commitment and various other circumstances. As a practitioner we have an important role to develop this relationship and understanding between the parents so we can have a better idea of how we can work together to support the child with needs. As it is evident that the first educators within a child’s life are their parents (Naldic.
org.uk, 2018), Taylor (2004) suggested that ultimately it is important to involve parents in relation to the children’s academic achievement, and it has also been identified that children who work with parents are more likely to have a positive attitude towards work (Sad & Gurbuz Turk, 2013). Kim et al. (2012) also proposed the idea that there is an equal power relationship between parents and teachers within the setting. In relation to this I feel that activities such as parent workshops and reviews are crucial to maintain this equal partnership. However, putting this idea into practice within my own setting served as a challenge considering the lack of understanding that many parents had about SEN (Paige smith A & Craft A 2011).
By promoting the workshops, it gave them a chance to gain more knowledge concerning the barriers that their children faced (Melhuish et al, 2008). This helped put forward the idea that with their support, many of the issues could be tackled more effectively (Rodd, 2006). We have been able to identify many issues the parents are facing such as shortages of money and resources and many parents are unaware of whether facilities that are available for them therefore in my setting we have been introduced this workshop on a termly basis, are provided with better support (?ad and Gürbüztürk, 2013). Despite this, there still remains the issue of many parents being reluctant to come to those meeting due to religious barriers and other commitments in the family (Pugh, G. Duffy, B, 2010). To overcome this problem, we also carry out home visits to ensure children’s safety and that they have the access to the facility that they need for the children and families.
However, in recent years there’s so many changes happening and therefore many parents and more neighbours are actually taking matters into their hands to support families and children. Practitioners must build professional relationships with parents so as to effectively understand learning cycles (Adams, 2012). As it is imperative that involvement between the two parties is maintained continuously, in my setting we ensure that parents and practitioners communicate on a daily basis. By including feedback within everyday conversation regarding the child’s development, it ensures that a strong bond is built between the two most important factors in a child’s educational process.
It is important within my setting to simultaneously provide constructive comments as well as respect the parent’s point of view (Lewis & Allman, 2016). I have noticed from my own experience that parents are often interested in what children do in the classroom, including updates on any strengths and weaknesses that they may have. As a practitioner, I have to be both honest yet positive with the feedback that I provide as the impact that effective communication can make is invaluable, such as the capability of parents supporting their children better, hence an enhancement in their confidence and social interaction inside the classroom (Saffinga, Church & Tayler, 2011). Despite these benefits, I have also found a number of parents that do not want updates concerning how their children are progressing. In these circumstances, it is our duty as practitioners to intervene and ensure that an effective level of communication is still maintained through persistence and activities such as the workshops that are carried out in my setting. The implementation of this method has been able to develop strong relationships with parents that would have otherwise remained detached from their child’s education. Regardless, as explained by Harris & Goodall (2008), another issue that can impact parental interaction includes language barriers. A method that has frequently overcome this problem in my setting is having members of staff that can translate important information and progress reports so that parents can understand them easier.
However, at times, particularly when issues are more complex, it can make explaining them significantly more difficult. Parental engagement must be upheld despite these complications, which can be carried out through the mediums of emails, text messages and letters, not just in person (Baker et al. 2011; Winslow et al. 2016).