A common proverb is, “It takes a village to raise a child.”
While the literal meaning might always apply, the message still rings true, according to Julie Black Haffke, director of admissions and enrollment management at Ruffing Montessori School in Cleveland Heights; Stella Moga Kennedy, owner of Le Chaperon Rouge in Solon; and Jessica Robins, director of early childhood services at the Mandel Jewish Community Center’s preschool in Beachwood.
A successful learning experience lies in collaboration between parents and early childhood educators.
“Children learn best when parents work together with teachers to encourage and support them academically, socially and emotionally,” Haffke said. “Studies have shown a strong connection between parental involvement and academic success, leading to improved overall educational outcomes for children.”
Working together as a team bodes well for children, said Robins said, adding the approach better meets educational and emotional needs.
“The goals of the parents and the educational program needs to be shared, as well as the progress that the specific child is making towards those goals,” she said. “Children may act very differently at home than at school. For parents and the school to have a complete picture of a particular child, it is helpful for there to be regular communication.”
This can be done by sharing what is taking place in the classroom on any given day, as well as the intention, Robins stated. When teachers share observations on what the children are learning and how they’re learning it, that allows parents to understand what is taking place at school.
“This can be done through strong written communication, frequent conversation and by providing opportunities for parents to get a glimpse into the classroom,” Robins said.
Kennedy said Le Chaperon Rouge parents receive pamphlets explaining lesson plans. In each room, there is list of activities so the children can also share information in their own words.
“The parents are then aware of what we do in the program, allowing them to reinforce what their child is learning at school,” she explained. “The goal is to create a tie between the parent, child and teacher. Seeing cooperation is very important for the child. It validates that learning is good.”
Allowing for collaboration also creates more ways to connect with a child’s learning, Haffke noted.
“Teachers are experts in instruction and curriculum, while parents are experts in their child’s growth and emotional development, with the resulting collaboration providing an incredible opportunity to enhance the educational experience for each child,” she explained.
Both Mandel JCC and Ruffing communicate with parents regularly.
“Our communication includes a daily note with updates as to what took place each day with the entire class as well as some personal anecdotes specific to each child,” Robins said. “We also send home pictures or videos each day that highlight the important work and learning the children are doing in the classroom.”
At Ruffing, those conversations include the day-to-day updates on curriculum, but also assists with raising children.
“The school provides numerous opportunities for families to gain greater knowledge relating to the growth and development of their child through speakers and other educational events, developed with all ages in mind, from our youngest of learners (18 months) to our high school-bound eighth-grade students (such as literacy, technology, positive discipline, and fostering independence),” Haffke said.
Parents should also look for ways their children can progress at home.
“If parents don’t understand something or if they have questions about their child’s progress, we encourage them to email their teachers,” Kennedy said. “We also have clear progress reports and lesson plans where the parent can determine what they can do at home.”