What are some ways …
Start Early! Have an initial meeting with parents upon enrollment of their child to build rapport by sharing a brief statement or two about yourself. You might include your childcare background (experience/education), personal interests, and/or why you choose to work with children. Always let them know how excited you are to have their child in your classroom. This is setting the stage for the parents to see you more as a “caring person” not just the “role of teacher.” Let them know that you will reach out to them for assistance with their child throughout the year and encourage them to do the same. Having this conversation early will help you later when you may need to approach them regarding an issue/concern related to their child.
Let the parents know that you wish to “partner” with them during the coming year. Tell them how much they are valued and that you will need their help to ensure success for their child. You may tell them that although you have knowledge in early childhood, you recognize that parents are the expert on their child. Help the parents realize that only they know their child’s history, culture, and strategies that are used in the home and therefore you will be depending on them for insight and information. This is setting the stage for parents to know that they will play an active role in providing information and being participants as partners in their child’s learning. Later when you ask parents to share information on their child’s development and/or specific behaviors exhibited at home, they will be less surprised and/or offended.
Find small ways to build your relationship with the parent every day, and let them know you care about their child. Greet them by name. Compliment their child in front of them. Find something positive to say about their child each day. This can be done in person, or through notes, emails or phone calls. When they know you care, they will be much more likely to respond in a positive way when you have an issue or concern.