ENHANCING QUALITY IN ECEC THROUGH PARTICIPATION

Breakfast with parents

 General goals of the activity

To promote knowledge and mutual trust between parents and educators in informal, serene and relaxed situations. Allow parents to acquire greater knowledge about different aspects of the nursery, with particular focus on its staff, other parents, activities that take place there and other educational opportunities connected to the services.

Promote meetings and interactions between all toddlers’ parents (not just those within each single section) to allow, comparisons between education and parenting experiences; as well as the creation/strengthening of a network of friends and opportunities for mutual support. For some parents, these may become important reference points in overcoming situations of isolation or deficient social integration.

 Description of the activity

The activity consists of inviting parents (and other family members) to visit the service (nursery school or preschool), and have breakfast with the children and other parents in a dedicated space, set up outside of the single sections. This breakfast is prepared by the service’s kitchen. After entrusting the child to the teacher working in the section, parents find an informal situation, specifically arranged to give them the opportunity talk to each other and with the service’s operators, have a hot drink and taste the food prepared by the school’s kitchen. The activity offers an opportunity to extend the children’s reception process, eliminating the hurry to leave, at least on the specific day it takes place. Reception time is enriched by the possibility of acquiring further knowledge and engaging in conversation. It offers a tranquil moment and each individual stops for the time he/she likes or is able to afford.

Breakfast with the Parents may be offered in one of the following formats:

a. Breakfast can take place within a single section, with the presence of two teachers and the children. It is an opportunity for parents and children to share a moment, which offers the following possibilities:

  • It offers the opportunity ffor parents and other family members to observe their child’s behavior in the school setting, the relationships between children and between educators and children (how their child behaves at the nursery school and how teachers relate to him/her and the other children);
  • It allows educators to observe the dynamics between parents and children and between different sets of parents.

b. Breakfast can also be offered to all sections together in a communal area. This way, it provides a moment that is open to the parents of all sections, enabling an extended socialization opportunity for families and service operators.

 Remarks

(issues to be aware of when implementing the activity)

This activity requires good organization within the working group. The morning the activity is scheduled for, at least two teachers must be present during reception time (normally between 7.30 to 9 a.m.). This way, one of the teachers can take care of the children while the other dedicates time to the group of parents taking part in the breakfast. If the breakfast is organized for children and parents together, the children’s presence needs to be taken into account when the area is prepared. Special attention ought to be given to disseminating the initiative, which should be publicized well in advance.

 Role of the teacher

During this activity the teachers do not speak about individual children.
They encourage communication between parents, balancing the moments when they remain in the background with those when they intervene more directly, stimulating the conversation about educational topics in an informal way.

Role of the family

Parents have the opportunity to observe the space, materials, documentation, relationships etc.
They can ask questions to the teachers, exchange and share opinions and experiences, get to know and talk with other parents and speak to the nursery school cook about food-related issues.

 Added value for the child and the family

Through this practice, parents have the opportunity to get closer to nursery school’s life and to people who work there, feel part of the services in a more tangible way and reduce the feeling that the services are something formal and distant.

These practices also help to create and / or consolidate confidence in the services and in the people working there. It can foster a feeling of tranquility in entrusting one’s children to the service, with positive effects on the children themselves. These moment give parents the opportunity to get to know and trust each other.

Materials to be used

Information about the activity is communicated and reminded verbally.
Teachers need to pay particular attention to to families who have difficulty understanding the language.

Guiding questions to reflect on the general improvement of the service

  • Did the practice meet the needs from which  it originated?
  • In what way did the activity improve parent’s participation?
  • To what extent did the activity improve our professional development as a team?
  • How did the activity affect the development of a relationship of trust with the parents?

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