Staff Workshop Instructions: Building Family and Community Relationships
- Grades: Early Childhood, Infant, PreK–K
Instructions for Workshop Leaders
1 > Goals
- To discuss ways of developing greater understanding of family and community characteristics.
- To design ways of supporting and empowering families and communities through respectful, reciprocal relationships.
- To develop meaningful ways to involve families and communities in children's development and learning.
2 > In Advance
- Distribute the handout (pages 16-17) one week before the workshop.
- Have a flip chart and marker available.
- Ask teachers to interview as many families as they can about what they want their children to learn while in the program and their goals for their children.
3 > Begin the Workshop
Have teachers report on the goals family members hold for their children and what they want their children to learn while in the program. List the goals and ideas on the flip chart and discuss how these could be incorporated into the program (or how they are). As a group, brainstorm ways to articulate how families' goals are being fulfilled in the program.
4 > Continue the Workshop
Organize teachers into three groups. The first group has the assignment of brainstorming ways of developing greater understanding of families and how to use this information to plan and implement more effective programs for children and their families. The second group will brainstorm how individual teachers and others working in the center, as the center program itself, can help support families. Ask them to list the behaviors they believe indicate respect for families and describe how reciprocal relationships are built with families. The last group has the assignment of brainstorming meaningful ways of involving families without creating unnecessary burdens.
Groups will take turns presenting the strategies they've developed to understand, support, and involve families in their children's education. List the suggestions on the flip chart.
When each group finishes, organize the teachers into small discussion groups. Give the groups the assignment of critiquing the suggestions given and describing how they could utilize the ideas with the families they work with.
Continue by asking teachers what they think of when they read or hear the statement that they are "to respect families' preferences and incorporate knowledge of families' languages and cultures into their program." To begin the discussion, you might present some common dilemmas between parental preferences and center policies, such as:
- A family brings a frosted birthday cake and pints of ice cream for children in the center in celebration of their child's birthday. Your policy of celebrating birthdays without sweets has been communicated to families.
- A family from Australia wants the center to institute a policy that all children will wear hats when playing outside, as is the rule in Australia where skin cancer is a high concern. Their child will not wear a hat because the other children are not wearing hats.
During and after the discussions, remind teachers that they are to respect other cultures and ways of doing things, and at the same time follow the policies of the center. Remember there are no right or wrong answers to these dilemmas.
5 > Conclude the Workshop
Review the center's existing policies for parent involvement. Ask the group to discuss which policies are effective and which need to be reconsidered.