Tip Sheet for Educators of Hard to Reach Families
By Karen Elzinga 6/01/2018
Hard to reach families are that way for numerous reasons, it could be suspicion about educational facilities due to their own past experiences with schools, or teachers not being supportive enough, either in their own education or their child's previous early learning centres.
It could be that they have to work for financial reasons and really never wanted their child placed into a centre, and resent the fact that educators get to spend all day with their child. It could be that they have a racial tendency or a personal dislike based purely on an educators appearance, and their first impressions.
If could be that they believe educators to be authority figures and may change their child to think like them instead of the families beliefs (Arthur, I. Beecher, B. Death, E. Dockett, S. Farmer, S pp. 43).
The reasons are plentiful, but whatever the reason, educators need to follow Principal 2 -Partnerships of the ELYF and continue to challenge the stigma by trying to bridge the gap into creating a collaborative partnership, so that the child can benefit in the short and long term, and so that the parent/s understand that they have a valuable role to play and feel a sense of belonging (Belong, being and becoming).
Ways that an educator can bridge the gap towards a collaborative partnership are:
-Translation applications for non English or little English speaking parents- Apps that translate the English language when spoken and translate it into numerous alternative languages, can aid enormously to bridge the language gap, and are almost immediate in speed and quick in application.
- The use of photographs to break down barriers and promote positive conversation around what their child was doing, this harnesses interest and provides shy non converse type people also with a topic to talk about, alleviating any anxiety.
-By always looking welcoming and happy to see parents as they walk through the door instantly sends the message that your engaged and overjoyed by their presence, sometimes parents may feel like they are interrupting, so a welcoming smile and eye contact helps to relieve nervous or anxious people, and provides parents with a way in to picking up or dropping off their child/ren.
-Never be judgmental, its an educators death. By keeping an open mind and remembering that this child is not yours, and that it's the educators role to do what the parents request for the child even if it goes against the educators standards and values of child raising.
- Learn names quickly, this harnesses instant re-pour.
- Initiate conversation using open ended questions, open ended questioning requires parents to answer with more than a yes or no answer, and thus this can often lead to further question topics and a longer conversation where re-pour can start to build.
- Share genuine comments with depth about the child's day, this shows you care about the child and want to share the information with the parent, again building conversation and re-pour.
- Listen, this is a real skill for some people, but if an educator can just listen when a parent is trying to convey an important piece of information about their child, or is asking for help, being empathetic can bring about real change in the collaborative partnership. (Department of Education Welfare and Workplace Relations).
Educators need to remember that collaborative partnerships are imperative to good child care and eduction. Never give up on parents, sometimes people have good reasons for being abrupt, hurried, or quiet, don't take it personally. Everyone has a bad day sometimes.
Belong, being and becoming. (2009). Retrieved from
Department of Education Welfare and Workplace Relations. (2012). Connecting with families: Bringing the
early years learning framework to life in your community. Retrieved from https://docs.education.gov.au/...
Arthur, I. Beecher, B. Death, E. Dockett, S. Farmer, S. (2015). Program and Planning in early childcare settings (6th ed). pp43.