How Can Teachers and Families Work Together?

Sunday, January 9, 2011

To work well with families and help young children learn, teachers need to know several things. The following skills are ones that parents can look for in their child's teacher. These are also skills that parents can help teachers learn. Teachers need to know:

* About families—who they are and what they want for their young child.
* How to involve families in their young child's learning.
* How to talk with families.
* How to support families in helping their young child learn at home.
* How to involve families in the classroom and school.
* How to support families' interests and needs.
* How to share decision making with families.
* Respect and value different cultures.

Research on how teachers learn to work with families shows good examples of families and teachers as partners and the important role that families play. For example, in an early childhood center in Napa, California where the preschool teachers are mostly non-Hispanic and the families are mostly Hispanic, the teachers invited the families to the center to learn from them about their culture and their goals for their young children. In this way, the parents and teachers helped each other gain important knowledge about what the families and teachers valued, how to communicate with each other, and how to work as partners.

In an early childhood center in Fort Worth, Texas, teachers and other staff members have helped busy parents save time and have more time to spend with their young children. Parents can drop off their dry cleaning at the center when they bring their children there in the morning. They can also buy snacks for the ride home when picking their children up in the evenings. Many of these time-saving ideas came from parents who returned a survey about what they needed help with most from the child care center.

By Holly Kreider - Harvard Family Research Project -


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