Take a look at Handout “How do you talk to families?” Here is a summary of tips for respectfully engaging family members in discussions about their child:
- Start with the families’ perspectives
- Be positive and specific with your information
- Be descriptive and share interpretations
- Support parental competence
- Open up to families’ emotions
Through education, training and ongoing practice you can learn to use strategies for sharing information that respects the diversity of the families, strengthens partnerships, and ultimately improves children’s outcomes. It will be helpful for you to receive feedback from your supervisor or a mentor as you hone your communication skills, watching for personal biases and opportunities for improving your communication techniques.
Authentic family engagement requires an overall program philosophy that values partnerships with families at all levels of the program: administrative, teaching and support, program policy, and in the design and use of physical space. Parent involvement cannot be delegated to a small number of staff members. It is everyone’s responsibility, and needs to be reinforced within all aspects of the program.