I love the families in my classroom. No, really, I adore my classroom parents! One of the things I frequently get comments on is how tight our classroom community is. I feel that the bond between home and school is so important and it has always been one of my top priorities to make sure that the parents feel welcome and that they belong to our room as much as their children do. Children benefit from their parents involvement in many ways. One great article I use often with new teachers or those who could use some help in this area is authored by Katherine Kersey and Marie Masterson (remember the 101's?) whom I also adore. In their article "Teachers Connecting With Families- In the Best Interest of Children" from the Young Children journal, September 2009, they tell us:
"When parents are involved in school, their children’s achievement improves. Children make friends more easily and are more successful learners (NCPIE 2006). Children whose families participate in school activities stay in school longer and take more advanced classes (Barnard 2004). But the greatest benefit to children of a successful home-school partnership is that children are more motivated to succeed (Hoover-Dempsey et al. 2005)."
And who wouldn't want to support that? Granted, it's not easy connecting with all families, every family is different- different family structures, backgrounds, cultures, personalities, etc. There are some families I had a hard time finding a connection with, but I always gave it my best shot. At the end of one year I received a sweet note from a parent who said something that I had not even thought of and really touched me. She said for me to consider this- I was her child's teacher for 2 years, no other teacher in her whole life will ever have the opportunity to work with her daughter or any other student for so long or so closely. I responded to mom that I was equally thankful to have had such a wonderfully supportive family to work with for 2 years.
We don't just get the kids in our classrooms- parents come with them and deserve equal attention and respect. When doing so we build not only a classroom but a classroom community and in turn an optimum environment for learning. So how do we do that effectively? More form the article-
"With parents, use every opportunity to connect positively: “I can’t wait to see you and tell you all of the wonderful things your child is doing!” When a teacher adopts this attitude in her interactions with parents, they will eagerly join in to support school and classroom activities for their child. Tell parents what the child is learning about himself, new friends, the world, and the outdoors. Parents need to hear what children are learning socially and how they are becoming successful. It is our job as teachers to help each child navigate the world successfully. We can give parents hope and confidence that their child is well on his way to
achieving that goal. It is always in the best interest of the child to connect with parents.
Family connections built when children are young pay off in a lifetime of rich dividends for the child. Teachers can tell families, “I hear about you all the time. I heard what a great thing you all did together last night.” These positive affirmations make a parent feel relaxed and proud. You the teacher are building bridges. You have a lasting impact on parents when you share your values and your goals for their children. You empower parents to be more successful in their parenting role when you connect them positively to their child’s teacher and to school. Once families feel comfortable and understand how important they are to their child’s success, a strong relationship begins. The partnership strengthens as school and teacher become a source for positive information. Through this approach to building connections, teachers create authentic, caring relationships with families, and parents become active participants in their child’s success."
Parents really are the heartbeat of our classroom. Our positive attitudes about families and learning support their positive attitudes about the preschool experience; their positive attitudes in turn influence those of their children and creating enthusiastic learners in our classrooms- and forever.
Share your excitement, love your parents, get connected. (Besides, if it wasn't for parents, we would not have a job :) )
To read the entire article, follow this link:
Welcome to my Blog!
Greetings and welcome to my page. My name is Rebbecca, I am a mom of two and a preschool teacher in southwestern Virginia. I have had the blessing of working in a Reggio Emilia inspired center for nearly 10 years, with the Greenies (my students) for 7 of the last 10 years. Our emergent curriculum and play based learning approach has changed the way I think about working with children. I am looking forward to sharing my inspirations, reflections and stories with you. So glad you're here!
“If you are a dreamer,come in. If you are a dreamer, a wisher, a liar, a hoper, a prayer, a magic-bean-buyer. If you're a pretender, come sit by my fire, for we have some flax-golden tales to spin. Come in! Come in!” Shel Silverstein