Families share their children and themselves with us. They trust us with their hopes, dreams, fears, and challenges. We can work toward strong partnerships by showing genuine interest in families—their goals, values, and what they want for their family. Listening to their perspectives helps us gain a better understanding of the child and the family, and deepens our relationship with them. Information can flow in both directions, and both the staff and the family benefit from the mutual respect that results from taking the time to consider the other's perspectives.
This practice is particularly useful when cultural differences in child-rearing and family roles emerge. Issues like education, discipline, social behavior, and even the goals of learning vary a great deal in a multicultural society. All families bring their beliefs and values to discussions about their child. A genuine partnership with families requires that we listen and pay attention to their perspectives.
- Invite parents to share their perspectives on their child's behavior and development.
- Use parent observations and interpretations to inform how to foster the child's healthy development.
- Before sharing data about a child, consider why you think the information is important and whether it will be important to the child's family in the same ways.
- Ask families if there is anything in particular they want to share about their family. Invite families to share insights about their child. Partner with families to set goals and make decisions.
- Ask family members what they would like to know and what they would like to share with you.
"I wanted to talk with you about your child's progress in learning to get along with the other kids. I've seen a lot of changes. I wondered what you've been thinking about this."
"I noticed you have been working hard to make arrangements to see your family. It's important to you to spend time with your family during the holidays."
"She is working so hard to learn to do things by herself. This morning she wanted to put her coat on all by herself. She got very frustrated and started to cry. I wanted her to be successful and I needed to go outside to help supervise the other children. She was very determined. I want to learn from you about what you do at home if you see her struggling so that we can help her with this together. What do you do?"
"Last month you mentioned that you were going to learn more about the community center in your neighborhood. I'm curious if you found any programs that your family is interested in."
"I wanted to follow up with you on our conversation about toilet training last week. Can you tell me how you think it's going for him?"
Reflect on a time when you used this practice with a family. What did you say or do?
Reflect on a time when this practice would have helped you build a relationship with a family. What would you have said or done?
Last Updated: March 2, 2018