I never knew what it was like to change a diaper in the middle of the night. Or go through weeks upon weeks of sleep deprivation because of baby feedings and rocking back to sleep. I’ve only been a father for a year. I’m happy, but what an experience so far.
When I became a father, I became a better early childhood professional.
In the morning, when I approach parents, I’m not always welcomed with a smile. Some parents yawn as they greet me. Others barely have their eyes open. Others are in and out of the center before I have a chance to utter a word. I get to speak to a few parents, but not all of them and not every week.
Parents have a busy life, one that I’m experiencing now. However, for all of the busyness I have around me – and I know I would be one of those parents who are speeding in and out of the school – I would still want to know what’s going on with my child. The fact that I don’t speak with my child’s teacher on a regular basis doesn’t mean I don’t want to know what’s going on.
Throughout the school year, connecting with families is one of the most important relationships a teacher will establish. Furthermore, this relationship must be more than the teacher just telling the family what to do for homework, what to bring on field trips, or when the next meeting will be. There needs to be real back-and-forth conversations. Especially in early childhood, where some of those kids are the first in their family and there is a heightened sense of trust required.
These kind of back-and-forth relationships are known as Reciprocal Relationships. These are two-way relationships in which information and power are shared; based on mutual respect, trust, cooperation, and shared responsibility. Educators must understand that the child’s first teacher is their parents, and we’re the second. There is information, observations, guidance, and knowledge within each family that is begging to be mined by the preschool teacher and staff. Furthermore, there are parents that want to be a part of their child’s education.
Even when you don’t speak with the parent every morning or when they give you the stank-eye and don’t want to speak, parents deserve to be part of their chid’s academic future.