Tag Archives: working parents

Becoming a Resource for Parents

family-resourceIn our field, we often hear the phrase: “Parents are the child’s first teacher.” As educators we know how important it is to work with families to help their child reach their full potential. We use parents/families as a resource to better understand the child in order to help them be more successful in our classroom. But how are we acting as a resource for parents? Is there a way we can help them be more successful as they juggle life as parents?

I often hear how hard it is for teachers to get parents engaged. Some teachers have even communicated, “It’s like they don’t care.” They have parents that “drop and run” with their child in the morning. Some parents do the “ghost pick up.” They pick up their child so quickly you barely noticed they were there. Or the parent who never takes home the newsletter—even worse, you see them toss it in the trash without reading it. And let’s not forget about the parents who  question the goings on in the classroom in a not-so-nice way, such as demanding their child stop scribbling when writing their name.

I was the type of teacher who wanted to form strong relationships, I wanted to discuss how each child’s day was with parents, and darn it—I worked hard on that newsletter! Thankfully I had the pleasure of working with some amazingly talented colleagues early on in my career, who taught me to envision life from the parents’ perspective. You know the saying, “Try taking a walk in their shoes.” This concept really hit home for me when I became a parent and then again when I became a single parent. It’s not that parents don’t care—our parents are working parents, and they have a lot to juggle. Plus, parenthood does not come with instructions! The majority of parents do not have an early childhood degree. They have not learned about the stages of writing and do not realize those scribble marks are building the foundation their child needs to make letter like forms and eventually letters. Every parent wants the best for their child. Some parents may still be learning what’s developmentally appropriate and learning how to do the juggle. This is where we come in as educators.

One way we help children to be successful is by meeting them where they are developmentally. We use different strategies to make learning easier for children. Could we use these same strategies while working with parents?

Let’s take the newsletter for example. Is there a way we could produce a classroom newsletter that is more reader-friendly?? Once I changed my newsletter format from a wordy, one page report to using just one power point slide layout (enlarged of course) I began to receive a lot more verbal engagement from parents. Changing the format created more of a read-at–a-glance instead of an overwhelming, lengthy report—this was a time saver for parents. They asked more questions about our projects and even brought in materials to enhance our classroom focus and concepts. It opened the door for more conversations at pick up and drop off because they knew I wasn’t going to overwhelm their juggle. I had become a resource for them.

We want children to be successful in every aspect in life and so do their parents. How will you be a resource for the parents in your classroom?

Invest in yourself—you’re worth it!

I was a young, bright-eyed adventurous teen when I chose not to go to college after high school graduation almost 18 years ago. And when I found out I was expecting a son a few months later, the dream of being a college graduate was bleak to say the least. I knew of the daunting statistics that plagued teen mothers and to top it all off I was comforted by my family telling me that I had made a good choice, as I wasn’t college material anyway. And I believed them. But not for long.

Working full time in a child care center, being a mom and working toward my CDA and then bachelor's was tough... but worth it!

“I will reach the top if this summit, hold my beloved degree in hand and declare to the world that I can do it, I will do it, I DID do it!”

A few years later as my high-energy toddler was running around the kitchen table, I was complaining to my husband about my less than satisfying job. I was frustrated, wanting better and feeling like I deserved more. It was then that my husband looked across the table and said “You are so smart. You should go to school, get your degree and do whatever you want to do.” So I did. I won’t lie to you, it hasn’t been easy but I am confident it will be worth it and I have worked with a vengeance. I made rules I promised to follow and from day one was committed to not only doing it, but doing it well. There have been rivers of tears shed and many doubts along the way but in the end, victories. There have been countless times I have felt as though I am clinging to the side of this mountain I am attempting to climb, bruised, bloody and exhausted. But I held on, taking one step, one class at a time.

Today I have my CDA, my Director’s Credential and am in my final college semesters, only 6 classes away from completing my bachelor’s degree in psychology. Six months from now I will reach the top of this summit, hold my beloved degree in hand and declare to the world that I can do it, I will do it, and I did do it.

How many times do we allow certain limitations such as age or finances or fears of failure stop us from achieving our goals and reaching our full potential? We teach our children to dream big but do we practice what we preach or do just enough to get by? I believe we all understand the value of education but do we realize our own worth and take the time to invest in ourselves? Do we recognize that our own increased knowledge will also benefit those we love and care for?

Going back to school for a degree or working towards an additional certificate or credential may seem impossible but I promise you, it’s not. There are resources and assistance, coupled with incredible support, available for you along your journey. Many of these remarkable programs right here at 4C, including our Child Development Associate (CDA) preparation program and Developing Early Childhood Leaders (DECL) seminar. I challenge you to dream big and dare to defy the odds and obstacles before you. You are worth it and you can do it. Start investing in yourself today!