Working with young children in a child care center can open you up to the many obstacles facing the success of our students. The growing lack of involvement with parents and children in schooling has created a dilemma, which has contributed to the rise in the special needs of children and IEP’s, that are required to combat the increasing gap affecting child development. Childcare centers seek to improve the parental involvement that takes place for after school activities, in-school support, and at-home together time. Parents being a part of the learning environment are a contributing factor to a child’s well-being long-term and short-term, in life, and in school.
For parents, there are a variety of combined factors that produce a lack of parental involvement, one major reason being in “at-risk” families, for low rates of development and lack of parental education. My experiences have taught me that many parents do not attend meetings and gatherings due to over-crowded schedules, two-working parents, parent(s) working more than one job, and/or single-parent homes, where the extra responsibilities prohibit parents from getting more involved. Other factors include the rise in teenage mothers; who many times lack the maturity to understand the need for involvement. According to Family Facts, un-wed mothers offer less stability, are more prone to experience domestic violence and abuse, and tend to act less positively towards their infants and young children. I have witnessed this in my experience both as an outsider, and insider. Many foreigners are usually restricted due to language barriers which make it difficult to get their involvement with the school and after-school activities.
Additionally, language barriers and even young or impoverished parents are contributing factors; whereas there exist communication barriers with their young children and infants, or even ESL challenges among our diverse groups (The Heritage Foundation, 2014).
Types of involvement should typically include establishing daily routines, being a part of outside activities, and/or creating an environment for good communication between staff and parents (Michigan Department of Education, 2011-2014). Hiring properly trained teachers, and perhaps bilingual staff is also very beneficial in overcoming these deficiencies in early childhood. Early childhood educators and administrators should raise the bar on expectations, but keep them realistic and in a professional perspective. As a childcare professional, I would also encourage reading, writing, and discussions among family members.
Early intervention and individual educational plans are resourceful aids to children of various age groups and for at-risk family situations and any developmental delays stemming from it. At-risk (low-income) families are referred to as families whose income is at or less than twice the federal poverty level (NCCP, 2008). The variety of factors that put children and their parents at a disadvantage, comparatively speaking, can now be considered a pre-requisite for academic aid with programs such as an IEP. Individual Educational Plans are effective goals created by a team of people, including parents; that seek to improve a child’s academic success and well-being over the period of a year (What Is An IEP?1999). Programs like Head Start, Early Start, and other venues of child development, add to the support systems to implement these plans. Programs that assist children in development typically require and promote parental involvement.
Parent involvement will improve academic success, create more confidence in children, create a positive attitude towards education and homework, and will empower the community and other parents. Parental involvement gives improvement to student attendance, which is proven to increase success in school; it will also improve a child’s security and self-worth.
Parents should be encouraged to volunteer and participate in classroom activities. Children need to see good, strong, positive relationships amongst adults so that they can not only replicate this kind of model behavior but gain powerful social skills that will carry them through life in a progressive and uplifting way. Research even shows children and families who are apart of religious activities and services, tend to have higher volunteer rates within their communities (FamilyFacts.Org, 2014). The blend of relationships in the childcare setting further helps to bridge gaps and establish a sense of purpose and place for children within their world.
The earlier in a child’s educational process a parent becomes involved, the more powerful the effects will be (Cotton and Wikelund, 1989). It is because of this that a large number of our efforts as childcare professionals and intermediaries between children, parents, and the community, must be divided into the most pressing parts of the “Big Picture.” In Working with Parents, the 6 Slices of Parental Involvement include the key foundations to impact the whole (2013). These slices are summed up in: parenting, communicating, volunteering, learning at home, decision making, and collaborating with teachers.
Please Visit https://www.slideshare.net/Rozy65/six-slices-of-parental-involvement to learn more about the 6 Slices of Parental Involvement through Project Appleseed.
Family Facts.Org: Benefits of Marriage http://familyfacts.org/briefs/6/benefits-of-family-for-children-and-adults
The Heritage Foundation: 2014, ://familyfacts.org/briefs/6/benefits-of-family-for-children-and-adults
Great Schools: What Is an IEP? http://www.greatschools.org/special-education/legal-rights/513-what-is-an-iep.gs
Nancy Moretti, Parental Involvement-Working with Parents, (2013), (Cotton and Wikelund, 1989)
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