Build Relationships with Families

Before watching this video, read the text below. When instructed, watch the video from the beginning to end.

A child’s social, emotional, cognitive, and academic development is strengthened when educators and families work together. When a child sees a positive relationship developing between educators and family, the child recognizes that the important people in his or her life are working together and trust each other, and he or she will do the same. This collaboration also provides a strong foundation for communication about children’s learning. To foster family involvement, interactions between educators and families should be positive, purposeful, reciprocal, and consistent.

  • Communicate with families often. When there is good communication between educators and families, learning is collaborative, accomplishments are acknowledged, problems are recognized, and solutions are provided.
  • Communicate the positive and the negative. Families will have a better sense of their child’s behaviors and accomplishments if all behaviors are reported (not only those that are negative or challenging).
  • Foster two-way communication. It is as important for the educator to hear from the parent or caregiver what the child is doing at home as it is for the parent or caregiver to hear what the child is doing in the early learning program. Share what children are learning and how parents and caregivers can offer support. Ask for feedback from families about the child’s academic and social development outside of the program.
  • Use multiple modes communication. Create a constant flow of communication. Engage with families in person at drop-off and pick-up, keep a journal for each child that families can read and contribute to, set up a Parent Information Board, write regular newsletters or blog posts, and send emails or text messages.
  • Understand each family’s expectations and views about their involvement.  What parents and caregivers view as family engagement may differ from family to family. For example, in some cultures families believe that the most respectful way to treat an educator is not to question, suggest, or share information. Be explicit about the kind of involvement that you expect and welcome from families, but also honor the limits families may want to maintain.
  • Approach the relationship with respect. Treat the educator and family relationship the way you would treat any important relationship in your life. Work to create a respectful and reciprocal relationship—one in which families feel valued and supported.
In this video, you’ll see educators use various strategies to build strong relationships with families. As you watch, look for effective strategies used by the educators in the video and jot down answers to these viewing questions in your Learning Log.
  • How do the educators keep families informed of their child’s learning and activities?
  • How do the educators engage with families?


Why is it important for you to build relationships with families?

  • Families and educators each have unique knowledge about a child.
    • A parent or caregiver can share information with educators about how the child feels, thinks, and learns outside of the formal learning environment.
    • An educator can offer insight about how the child learns and behaves in group situations, as well as on his or her own.
  • Strong relationships between educators and families can strengthen children’s emotional health. They show children that they can trust the adults in their lives because those adults trust each other.
  • Children’s academic growth benefits from instructional coherence (when the learning in the program is supported by the learning at home and vice-versa).
  • Respectful relationships between educators and families provide children with models for how to create positive relationships with others.

What are some helpful ways to share information about what children are doing and learning?

  • Set up a Parent Information Board in the drop-off and pick-up area to post learning objectives, key vocabulary words, and explicit examples of ways parents can reinforce the learning. For example, Today we read a book about scientists. We learned how scientists look, touch, smell, listen to, and learn about the world around them. On your way home, ask your child to look, touch, smell, and listen as he or she practices being a scientist.
  • Use blogs, newsletters, text messages, and social media pages to keep families up-to-date on learning, provide ideas on home connections, share photos, and encourage families to share home experiences with educators.
  • Keep a journal for each child. Educators can write weekly entries about each child, highlighting a new project, a new learning, a new challenge, or a new development. Family members can read and contribute to the journal.


Think about the learning environment at your own program as you answer these reflection questions in your Learning Log.

  • How do you build positive and collaborative relationships with families?
  • What did you learn that you will put into practice in your own learning environment?
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