Partners in Preschool
Parents and carers play a critical role in their child's early education. In early childhood education parents are seen as children's first and most influential educators. Parental and family engagement is regarded as crucial in supporting children's academic success.
‘Parents play a critical role in providing learning opportunities at home and in linking what children learn at school with what happens elsewhere. By participating in learning interactions and activities outside the school, parents become important actors in a child's learning' (ARACY, 2012, p. 17).
Research tells us that families and communities contribute in unique ways to the learning process. The greatest impact is made when there is a focus on linking behaviours of families, teachers and students to learning outcomes (ARACY, 2012, p. 50).
What does this mean to me? How can I be involved?
‘In genuine partnerships families and educators value each other's knowledge and roles, communicate freely and respectfully and engage in shared decision making' (DEEWR, EYLF, p 12).
There are many ways in which families and parents can be involved in their child's preschool education.
Parent involvement opportunities at the preschool could include: volunteering on site preschool; attending excursions and events; as a representative on the preschool committee or School Board, or even sharing a skill (gardening, cooking, and language).
Parent engagement opportunities at home include: asking and being engaged in your child's day and learning; finding ways to explore their interests and expanding that knowledge; reading books and asking questions; exploring mathematical concepts during everyday activities (e.g. following a recipe).
Though these are only a few ways you can become involved in preschool, it is important that families contribute in ways that they feel most comfortable. Talking to your local preschool service about how you might contribute is the best start. Ask the question, how can I be involved in my child's education? Answers from services will vary but the most important factor is developing a positive partnership between home and preschool. "Improved learning outcomes are enhanced when parents and school staff work together to support an effective learning environment in both home and the school" (ARACY, 2012, p. 19).
It is communication that enhances this partnership. It's okay to ask questions no matter how big or small they might be; open, ongoing and two way communication is an important tool in supporting your child's successful preschool experience.
Questions to ask your preschool service:
- How can I be involved in my child's education?
- How can I support my child at preschool?
- Can I spend time in the preschool?
- What parent/family activities do you offer?
- What if I have a question, can I email, call on the phone, come and see the educator?
- What opportunities do you have to contribute to decision making?
- What ways can I communicate with the preschool teacher?
- What events do you hold at the preschool?
Emerson, L., Fear. J., Fox, S., and Sanders, E. (2012). Parental engagement in learning and schooling: Lessons from research. A report by the Australian Research Alliance for Children and Youth (ARACY) for the Family-School and Community Partnerships Bureau: Canberra.
Australia Government Department of Education Employment and Workplace Relations for the Council of Australian Government (2009). Belonging, Being and Becoming: The Early Years Learning Framework for Australia.