1.2.6 Many parents work alongside practitioners
Working as volunteer helpers, parents can provide invaluable support to children within an early education setting –for example, by providing learning support to children. Many early years practitioners, in particular teaching assistants, entered the profession via work as parent volunteers.
Activity 1 Why work with parents?
Take a look at the table here: you will see nine statements on why practitioners should work with parents. Rank them in order of importance, starting with the most important. We suggest you do this activity with someone at home, a neighbour, a colleague at work, or a parent. Alternatively, you may like to arrange them in a diamond ranking order as Figure 3 does:
Sorting the statements in this way demonstrates how some may be seen as equal in importance. It can also promote increased discussion about their relative significance.
The statements illustrate the many potential benefits of collaboration. They also provide insights into the (assumed) needs of parents. Most of the statements relate to the benefits that partnership offers to parents. However, it is also important to remember the potential benefits for practitioners. They can be better informed through listening to parents and taking account of their personal understandings of children – for example, the ‘Knowledge of children’ statement. Practitioners may also be supported by parents in significant practical ways (as the ‘Extra pair of hands’ statement suggests).
Your own ranking may have prioritised benefits to parents or to practitioners, or to children or a combination of these, It is important to recognise that working closely with parents and families is 'central to a child's wellbeing' (DCSF 2008) whether you work in England, where this quotation orginates, (Early Years Foundation Stage), or in another UK country.