As an early years practitioner; you should be very aware of the need to work with the children’s parents in partnership. Here are some of my experiences of this from my many years as a child minder.
I liked to think that I knew the children I was caring for extremely well, but I never forgot that the parents were the real experts on their child (although sometimes this was difficult to understand.)
I preferred the parents to send a packed lunch with their children so I didn’t need to worry about preparing food. One boy; always had cheese and cucumber sandwiches, it soon became apparent to me that he didn’t like cucumber as he would either spit it out or remove it from between the bread before eating. I started to place the uneaten cucumber back in his lunch box rather than throw it away, thinking that his mother would realize that he didn’t like it and would send something different; but no, the cheese and cucumber kept arriving for weeks.
Another parent which comes to mind was a father who asked when I was going to teach his son the alphabet, I explained as I wasn’t a teacher I hadn’t expected to teach him but considered that the child knew what he needed to know for his age of just over 3. I explained that he would point to the letters on the alphabet chart displayed on my play room wall and tell me that “A” was for Alec (my husband’s name) “J” was for John (another child I was looking After) “K” was for Karen (my name) and would then point to the letter that his name started with. I also said that I thought this was very clever for his age.
Later that evening, my husband (who had overheard the earlier conversation) asked me why I was so polite and that he would have told the parent to go away (or similar!) For a child minding or any early years arrangement to work I believe it is paramount that parents and carers have a good relationship.
I always tried to find time at drop-off and pick-up time to discuss things with parents; for example a child may be tired due to a restless night or under the weather because of teething. I also liked to talk about how my day with their child had been by telling them what we had done, how long the child had napped for and so on. If it wasn’t convenient to chat at those times (because other parents were present or little ears were listening) I would suggest that they ring me, or I ring them later that evening.
I also had what I referred to as a “to and through book” this worked with one family who had arranged for the child’s aunt to do the collection. I had previously met her at the first interview, The book worked as a backup Incase the aunt forgot to pass on anything.
During my Ofsted Inspection; I was asked about how I worked with the parents of the children I looked after. One example I gave to the inspector was of the time one parent who had English as a second language had asked me what her daughter liked to do when she was with me. I told her that she loved play-dough. I had given the parent the recipe so she could make some play-dough with her daughter at home. The Ofsted inspector must have approved; as I was awarded an “outstanding” grade at my last inspection.
As always questions/ comments are welcome