The Importance of Family-Teacher Partnerships
that better meets the needs of each child and
gives you a wonderful sense of job satisfaction.

ier and more enjoyable to interact with those
families. When I started making an effort to speak to
I have good relationships with most of the par-
every parent at drop-off and pickup time every
ents in my program, but there are a few who ei-
day, I felt so much more comfortable. I no longer
ther avoid me or are needy all the time. I decided
dreaded seeing parents, and I realized that par-
to approach my difficult parents and ask each of
ents were giving information to me about their
them for a suggestion of how we could improve
child and family that I had no idea about. I feel
our communication. I was amazed at the simple,
like I know these children so much better, having
specific suggestions that most gave me. Even the
had this opportunity to talk with their parents,
ones who said, “I don’t know,” have been more re-
and this information has changed my curriculum
sponsive since I asked the question. I find myself
and the way I interact with these children. I can
looking forward to our check-ins now.

see right away the difference it makes for chil-
dren. I love my job!
Successful communication with families helps
teachers feel more effective and confident.

Families can provide crucial resources to the
program through their ideas, perspective, ex-
pertise, materials, volunteer energy, and com-
munity connections.

I knew I should be communicating with parents,
The other day I was trying to put together a
but it is so hard for me to talk to adults, so I
camping curriculum, and I just mentioned in
started with a daily news flash board. Every day
passing to a parent that I was looking for small
I listed several activities we did that day. Parents
tents. She said she had a couple I could use, and
started coming up to me, asking me about the
then she got so excited about the curriculum that
activities and thanking me for the information! It
she offered to bring in some camping pictures
was a great way for me to start communication
and equipment we could use. She even called
with them.

another parent to ask if they had some old flash-
lights to donate. I keep forgetting what incredible
Many teachers experience the satisfaction of
children’s increased trust in them when com-
munication increases with families.

Ever since I started talking to Yvette’s grand-
mother, I’ve noticed that Yvette really seeks me
out when she needs help. I think she appreciates
the bond she sees developing between me and
her grandmother.

Facing the challenges in your relationships with
parents helps deepen your connection and trust
with them. When you solve difficult issues with
families, you become less afraid and find it eas-
resources families are to our program. Somehow,
I always think I have to do everything myself.

As these educators’ stories show, when they
began to enter into partnerships with families,
their jobs became easier. The interactions they
had once found to be intimidating weren’t so
scary anymore. They experienced more support
from families for their program and for their
teaching, and they felt more connections to fam-
ilies and children. It was easier for them to do
good work with children, and that made them
enjoy their jobs more. These are the benefits for
teachers of creating partnerships with families.


10 Chapter 1
Our colleagues in Reggio Emilia describe the
benefits of the partnership in their book The
Hundred Languages of Children:
This growing preoccupation with the
quality of the child’s educational expe-
rience has undoubtedly induced many
parents to become involved in the infant
and early childhood centers in the belief
that by doing so they can be closer to
their children and be better prepared to
handle educational choices but also out
of the conviction that they will enrich
their own capabilities as parents. Against
this background, the local school be-
comes the privileged seat of encounter
and social exchange, the natural place
where staff, parents, and children
contribute on a daily basis to an educa-
tional community built on the premises
of dialogue and cooperation (Edwards,
Gandini, and Forman 2011, 129).

Reflecting on What You Know about
Building Partnerships Write down your thoughts about these ques-
tions, or discuss them with coworkers or other
students: • In what ways are you already partnering
with families?
• In what ways would you like to further build
partnerships with families?
• Do you have questions, worries, or concerns
about building partnerships with families?
It is clear that children, educators, and fami­
lies all benefit from strong school-home part-
nerships. What can you do to create these kinds
of bonds? Remember that people in the early
childhood field are skilled at relationship build-
ing. You know how to successfully engage with
children, and you are also experienced at facili­
tating children’s relationships with each other.

As different as adult relationships are, they are
based on the same solid set of skills you already
use every day with children: using two-way com-
munication, listening, observing, nurturing,
teaching, learning, empathizing, learning about
the other person’s perspective and experience,
imagining the other person’s healthy intention,
communicating one’s own needs, working to-
ward a balance of needs, setting positive limits,
using redirection, offering choices, brainstorm-
ing, and negotiating solutions to problems. You
can adapt and apply these skills to building ef-
fective relationships with the families of the
children in your care. This book will help you.

Family-Centered Care:
The Key to Partnerships
The goal in creating relationships with families
is to build respectful and mutual partnerships.

Partnerships enrich both educators’ and families’
relationships with children and bring together
their mutual expertise for the benefit of the child.

Family-centered care provides the base upon
which partnerships can thrive. As the name im-
plies, in family-centered care, relationships with
families are acknowledged as central to good care
and education for young children. Five charac-
teristics of family-centered programs make them
different from other early childhood programs.