Guest post

The Parent Representative

Partnership with parents is a crucial part of every setting’s daily life. 

So, I was fascinated when Kim Benham, Senior Manager at Sparkles and Millies Pre-School in Croydon, told me they have a Parent Rep at her nurseries. Here, she shares the story behind the creation of the Parent Rep, as well as their role in the Nursery.

Thank you Kathy for inviting me as a guest blogger.

Working with parents is at the heart of my two Pre-School’s practice. Engaging families and actively involving them in what we do helps to KimPhotocreate a family atmosphere, where all parties are mutually respected and can enjoy the benefits of good communication.

As well as working with them individually with a key person, we have feedback forms and suggestion books and boxes. There is a general reluctance it seems to make suggestions, and feedback forms, although still used, seem to be gushing with compliments for fear of repercussions.

Whatever happened to “Talking” – let’s talk to parents and accommodate real effective communication.

The Parent Rep was evolved.

We approached a parent who has shown an interest in what goes on and had good communication skills. We have found before, that occasionally parent anxieties or gossip would escalate without us knowing or being able to resolve any problems that occur.

By opening the channels of communication, ideas were shared and improvements made, because parents have some really great ideas, but often don’t come forward with them.

We try to be so approachable, but some parents will still hang back. The Parent Rep opens a channel of communication; usually accommodated by popular coffee mornings for chats (a piece of cake works wonders!). The Parent Rep attends staff meetings too so she can feedback any plans we have as well as feeding in information and ideas from the parents.

Grandparent days and Dad’s weeks were planned, as parents got more involved in what we did. Fundraisers were initiated to buy resourcesDads day from Kim and parents collaboratively help make the learning environment better for the children. The Parent Reps make sure we include as many parents as possible, so also approach shy parents.

A Facebook page was suggested by parents and we have a lively group page for each setting, parents sign a parent agreement form so it remains informative and upbeat, while keeping it as safe and protected as possible.

Having a Parent Rep doesn’t replace all the work we do to engage parents, but complements it, gelling the relationships further, making a family friendly setting where everyone feels they have a valuable contribution.

The EYFS “Effective Practice: Parents as Partners” (2007) says “Successful relationships between parents and educators can have a long lasting and beneficial effect on children’s learning and wellbeing.” This not only works on an individual basis with children’s key people, but as a group, parents who feel included and valued will contribute to a happy and all inspired learning environment.

Reference:

Effective Practice:Parents as Partners (2007)

http://www.keap.org.uk/documents/eyfs_eff_prac_parent_partner.pdf retrieved 03/02/2015

Kim Benham
Senior Manager Sparkles and Millies Pre-School

Setting visits welcome – it’s good to talk!

http://www.sparklespreschool.wordpress.com
www.milliespreschool.co.uk
sparklesandmillies@gmail.com

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7 Comments
  • Sarah Apr 3,2015 at 12:04 pm

    Thanks, Kim. A fantastic article, informative and insightful, as always. Sarah

  • Kim Benham Mar 1,2015 at 1:24 pm

    Love the idea of a badge Bernice. We find them very useful at open days too. I’m going to sort out badges!

  • Bernice Mar 1,2015 at 9:12 am

    We have parent representatives who come to our open sessions for new children who are joining us. They wear a special badge so they are easily recognised by new parents and we find that they talk quite freely to an existing parent about what to expect. They also come to our ‘New Parents Meetings’ and so can talk freely afterwards. We have found this makes a useful bridge between staff and parents/carers.

    • Kathy Mar 1,2015 at 11:40 am

      Thank you for your comment Bernice.
      A badge is a great idea too!
      Best regards
      Kathy

  • Kim Benham Feb 28,2015 at 10:34 pm

    Fabulous for parents with EAL as they can so easily become isolated. Please let me know how you get on.

  • Eileen Feb 28,2015 at 11:26 am

    Thank you Kathy and Kim,
    This is a brilliant idea, which I will implement in my setting. We have a lot of families who have English as an additional language, very few of them speak English, it would be great to ask the English speaking parent to act as as a representative for the others. That would help us communicate with them better and use their suggestions.

    • Kathy Feb 28,2015 at 12:53 pm

      Thank you for your comment Eileen.
      I think that’s a really good idea! Do let us know how you get on,
      Best regards
      Kathy

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