You want the best for your young child's early education. Accredited preschools provide quality programs that meet nationally recognized standards. Not only do these early learning centers and schools have to prove their worth when it comes to what they teach, they also have to demonstrate that they know who they teach. Maintaining relationships with families is a key part of any effective preschool program, according to the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC). Accrediting agencies, such as NAEYC and the National Early Childhood Program Accreditation organization, require a commitment to this ideal before granting accredited status.
What are some of the ways that accredited preschools create relationships with parents and families?
1. Teacher-level engagement. You see your child's teacher every day during drop-off or pick-up. In a quality preschool program the teacher makes an effort to engage you in some form of communication at these times. This doesn't always mean a lengthy discussion or a full run-down on how your child is doing. It may be something as simple as, "Hi! Gina is really enjoying music. Did she sing the alphabet song to you yet?" If all of the parents come in at once, it's not likely that the teacher has plenty of time to talk. If this is the case, she may schedule special conferences, send email updates or hand out regular classroom newsletters.
2. Cultural sensitivity. Not every family communicates or engages in school the same way. According to NAEYC, accredited preschools need to set family engagement in the context of cultural diversity. This means developing a sense of sensitivity to other culture's values, beliefs and language.
3. Provide program information. A school handbook may seem like a simple list of rules and regulations, but it's also a way that programs engage families in the learning experience. The more information that you have on the program, the more that you understand what your child is doing during her day. This breeds a higher level of comfort. Information on how to contact the teacher, when the teacher may contact you and ways to take part in classroom activities also help you to become part of the preschool community.
4. Classroom-level engagement. Field trips, classroom parties and other special events all offer opportunities for families to engage. For example, your child's teacher may ask for help planning crafts for the Valentine's Day party or send a letter home detailing the times of the annual preschool performance.
Preschool accreditation means much more than setting standards for curriculum and learning. Family engagement at the teacher-parent and classroom levels need to take cultural sensitive approaches and include the provision of essential information that makes everyone feel included. When you're looking for a preschool program, ask about accreditation and how they meet parent engagement needs. For more information, talk to a place like D & J Educational Inc.