As I spend time inside of the many child care centers I visit, I see children excited for Christmas. I see teachers being silly with one another having ugly sweater contests during pot luck lunch time meetings. The other thing I notice, the not so fun part of this holiday season, is the level of stress and worry on the faces of the families entering the child care facilities. I hear of families who are losing their homes, families who don’t have enough to eat and children who need the basics like warm clothes.
My challenge to you for 2012 is to reach out to the families you encounter each and every day and let them know you are there to partner with them for the betterment of their children. Help can look different because all families are different. Some families may need help with basic resources like food and housing. Some families may need help with toilet training or getting ready for kindergarten.
Partnering with parents is a skill that all of us in the field of early childhood need to work on. Each day we have an opportunity to build relationships with families to let them know we are one resource they can turn to. There are simply things you can do to let parents know you are available:
- Greet them each day by name
- Share positive stories with them about the things their children do while they are with you
- Notice parents’ strengths they have and take time to compliment them about it
- Ask parents open ended questions to learn more about who they are
Creating an open door so that families feel that they can turn to us when they need something will help us reach new levels of professionalism. As I look forward to 2012, I feel a renewed spirit because I know the direction I want to take for my professional growth. I hope you join me in supporting families for the coming year!