Collaborating with Parents to get the best out of Early Childhood Education
The Roots Federation Approach
At Roots Federation, we believe that parents are a child's first and most important teachers. With over 280 children aged between 3 months and 5 years across our Federation, we consider parental collaboration as a vital component of our educational approach. Our Parent Partnership Initiative, 'Reaching 100%,' was designed to ensure that every parent receives regular and meaningful communication and is equipped to actively contributes to their child's learning journey.
In 2021, we evaluated the quality of parental engagement across our settings. Recognising that strong parent partnerships and a high-quality home learning environment are fundamental to children's progress, particularly for disadvantaged and vulnerable students. However, we identified potential barriers for our parents such as variable access to written communication creating an inequity for those with additional needs or different home languages limited written communication accessibility and a different set of challenges for parents who work long hours and are often time deprived difficulties in engaging working parents who utilised wraparound care.
To overcome these challenges, we implemented bold changes in how we shared information and communicated with our families. Our strategies focused on valuing parents as experts, promoting two-way communication, and enhancing collaboration between staff and parents. Here are the communication initiatives we introduced:
Daily Updates: Parents now receive a daily report highlighting one activity their child participated in, facilitating meaningful conversations at home.
Weekly Updates: We share the key group book of the week and essential words through an app, encouraging parents to support vocabulary expansion.
Fortnightly Catch-up Calls: Learning journals were replaced by personal phone calls or face-to-face meetings with parents, ensuring a stronger connection.
Half-termly Zoom Information Presentations (ZIPS): Recorded presentations covering various topics, allowing parents to access information at their convenience and share it with others.
Beyond effective communication, we recognised the importance of providing resources to support parents in creating a rich home learning environment. To remove financial and physical barriers, we introduced the following initiatives:
Book Shed: We established lending sheds with books accessible to families and community members, promoting family engagement in reading. The shed included books for grown-ups and older siblings so whole families could benefit from visiting the shed situated outside the Nursery.
Story Sacks: A lending library of high-quality story sacks was developed, accompanied by guides, resources and recorded presentations for parents.
Busy Finger Packs: Packs containing resources to develop fine motor control were made available for borrowing, supported by instructions and a 'Busy Fingers' booklet explaining the rationale behind developing fine motor control.
Home Library: Every child leaves our Nursery Schools with a collection of five books accompanied by ideas for sharing and to ensure every child has a collection of high quality texts.
The 'Reaching 100%' initiative and our focus on the home learning environment have had a remarkable impact on our families. In a recent parent survey, 100% of parents reported feeling well-informed about their child's learning and equipped to support their development at home. Ofsted also acknowledged the strength of our parent partnerships, with parents overwhelmingly positive about our provision. Th Roots Federation firmly believes in the power of collaboration between parents and schools. By reaching 100% of our families and providing effective communication channels and resources, we have fostered strong parent partnerships and created a high-quality home learning environment. This approach has positively influenced the progress and development of our children, equipping them for lifelong learning and a successful, joyful life. Together, we continue to grow as a strong home/school team, driven by our shared commitment to early childhood education.