Establishing reciprocal relationships with families
Developmentally appropriate practices derive from deep knowledge of individual children and the context within which they develop and learn. The younger the child, the more necessary it is for professionals to acquire this knowledge through relationships with children's families. The traditional approach to families has been a parent education orientation in which the professionals see themselves as knowing what is best for children and view parents as needing to be educated. There is also the limited view of parent involvement that sees PTA membership as the primary goal. These approaches do not adequately convey the complexity of the partnership between teachers and parents that is a fundamental element of good practice (Powell 1994).
When the parent education approach is criticized in favor of a more family-centered approach, this shift may be misunderstood to mean that parents dictate all program content and professionals abdicate responsibility, doing whatever parents want regardless of whether professionals agree that it is in children's best interest. Either of these extremes oversimplifies the importance of relationships with families and fails to provide the kind of environment in which parents and professionals work together to achieve shared goals for children; such programs with this focus are characterized by at least the following guidelines for practice:
A. Reciprocal relationships between teachers and families require mutual respect, cooperation, shared responsibility, and negotiation of conflicts toward achievement of shared goals.
B. Early childhood teachers work in collaborative partnerships with families, establishing and maintaining regular, frequent two-way communication with children's parents.
C. Parents are welcome in the program and participate in decisions about their children's care and education. Parents observe and participate and serve in decision making roles in the program.
D. Teachers acknowledge parents' choices and goals for children and respond with sensitivity and respect to parents' preferences and concerns without abdicating professional responsibility to children.
E. Teachers and parents share their knowledge of the child and understanding of children's development and learning as part of day-to-day communication and planned conferences. Teachers support families in ways that maximally promote family decision making capabilities and competence.
F. To ensure more accurate and complete information, the program involves families in assessing and planning for individual children.
G. The program links families with a range of services, based on identified resources, priorities, and concerns.
H. Teachers, parents, programs, social service and health agencies, and consultants who may have educational responsibility for the child at different times should, with family participation, share developmental information about children as they pass from one level of a program to another.
YEAH I would like to teach this way.
BUT my school district requires that I teach using a prepared curriculum.
Sounds familiar!? Let see if we can help without giving advice this time.
The first challenge that got my attention was the one regarding the parents and the teachers having different views about the children’s education. But then I thought, even with the willingness of the teacher and the support of the parents to go with DAP. It won’t be possible if certain policies dictate the opposite.
Unless they have a school of their own, then it may be possible to go further and deal with the other challenges. We can always advocate to implement programs such as DAP but as long as the policy making bodies view the situation differently, how far can we go?
A lot of things are messed up in our educational system. Sure the people up there are doing what they think is best, but do they really know for sure?
Feasibility, we’re talking about money and other resources. Being in a third world country, we can’t always rely on the government to act on our behalf. Maybe there is a chance for programs like this to happen in the Philippines. If we can gather enough people who will support such an endeavor, then it is possible. Probably big schools like La Salle or Ateneo can spearhead such a movement. I’m sure that given the noble nature of this undertaking people will follow suite and support it. Maybe even get the powers that be to take notice.
As Michael Jackson would put it, let’s start with “The Man in the Mirror”! I admire sir joel for going out of the box and doing what he thinks is best for his students. If we could all be like that, but not in an anarchistic way, there is a chance that one by one, teacher after teacher, change might happen.