Working in Partnership with Families Policy

Are Froebelian principles evident in our current Working in Partnership with Parents and Carers Policy?

Research practitioner:

Senior practitioner:

Project summary:

An interactive study on how Froebelian Principles link with our Working in Partnership with Parents and Carers Policy taking in to account children, families and practitioner’s perspectives.

Introduction

This project was undertaken by 9 participants over 3 groups. I focused my project on how to include Froebelian Principles within our policies. I wanted to look at how we involve families creating and reviewing policies. Our aim is for families to be actively involved in all aspects of our Centre. Having strong Froebelian beliefs we felt it was important to have their voice included in all our policies.

“Today the most urgent need in education is that the school should be united with the life of home and family”. (Froebel, in Lilley, 1967)

Context

As we embarked on our Froebel Flagship Journey I reflected on how we previously involved parents in reviewing our policies. The purpose of this was to get families actively involved in the policy-creating process as previous participation was low. We would ask parents to read our updated policies and provide feedback, this was done with limited conversation.

When deciding on my research project I was passionate about choosing to look further into the policy-creating process with our families and how we can incorporate the Froebelian Principles. As an Early Years Officer my current role has been limited involvement in reviewing policies and I have not had the opportunity to lead or fully influence policy writing. I would like to change this practice, giving more autonomy to all practitioners as this aligns with living our settings vision, values and principles.

“Froebel believed that the educators primary concern must be the growth of relationships” (Froebel in Lilley, 1967

I had to ensure that I gathered a broad perspective of views including children, parents and staff. It was important to find creative methods which would support young children in contributing their views.

Involvement of parents in our policy reviews was previously limited. On reflection we see this as a gap in our partnership with parents. We took time to consider which policy we would start with and what questions would give them confidence to express their views. We gave them a copy of the Froebelian Principles which we discussed during our focus group.

Through discussion and reflection, we identified that not all practitioners realise the importance of their views when we are creating & reviewing policies. It was decided we would support their understanding of the process of creating and reviewing policies. We had not previously linked the Froebelian principles, but we now realise the importance of doing so.

Ethics

My research was to look at how we include Froebelian Principles into our policies with the first focus on ‘Working in partnership with families’. On consideration of my research title I do not foresee there being any negative repercussions. I explained to all participants how I would share any photographs that were taken and any contributions they made through discussions and made sure that all participants understood that anonymity was ensured to them all unless a safeguarding issue arose. I made sure that all participants understood that they could freely withdraw consent at any time during the research project if they wished to do so. I also explained that the discussions being held would remain confidential within the focus groups and not discussed out with this safe space. By having these previous discussions, I felt that it made the focus groups more interactive as everyone seemed relaxed and able to openly express their opinions.

“We can see that there are two key principles to be taken from Froebel’s approach to working with parents. The first is that professionally trained practitioners should respect parents and the families they work with. The second is that parenting is a lonely and anxious endeavour unless there is a supportive community which the family is a part of”. (Early Childhood Practice Froebel Today, Tina Bruce, pg 18)

(Early Childhood Practice Froebel Today, Tina Bruce, pg 18)

Findings

Through reflection we recognised the importance of linking Froebelian Principles into our policies. During professional dialogue we recognised the importance and value of children, parents and practitioners contributing to our policy reviews.

We recognised the value of everyone’s views and contributions to our policy making. It surprised me people’s knowledge and views on parental partnership which I had not previously given thought to. It identified the ability of parents and practitioners having autonomy in writing or reviewing our Centre’s policies.

Children expressed their delight at having their families involved in nursery experiences. These have included – Stay and Play, Engaging with Nature and Singing around the Campfire.

“I get excited when my mummy comes into nursery because I can show her what I do and she gets to help me do stuff”.

“My dad knows how to light a fire so we know how to be safe, I liked showing my sister the campfire”.

“At the woods I showed my mum how I can climb up that big tall tree”.

Parents feedback during our Focus Group, they were mainly happy with our current ‘Working in Partnership policy’ although they mainly focused on the experiences we provide.  Parents value our ethos, values, relationships and our welcoming environment. They would like more varied opportunities for them to participate in their child’s journey at nursery.

“I feel like you are family to us and I know my child is always happy and learning new things at nursery”.

“As parents we love being able to get involved in what Lucy is learning and doing at nursery, sometimes I learn new things when I come too”.

“I feel like the opportunities you guys are providing by linking with the principles has encouraged my child’s independence in so many ways”.

The Practitioner Focus Group mainly focused on the terminology used in the current policy. We identified the importance of the words we use and the impact they have. This has been reflected in the change in the name of our policy e.g. changing parent/carer to family.

Policy has now been updated to reflect all participants views.

Conclusion

This project acknowledged all participant’s views and opinions on how we involve families and children in the policy creating process. Giving them a voice on how we work together to further develop this through experiences and relationships.

Terminology and wording of the current policy was reflected upon. After discussion with participants we recognised our ethos, values and beliefs are replicated in our policies.  Feedback from parents, children and practitioners has highlighted the value of all participants being actively involved in our policy writing process.

Going forward families, children and practitioners will be more involved in our policy making process. We are now more knowledgeable about the importance of creating different ways to ensure that all individuals of varying abilities contribute & feel valued.

Practitioners will have more responsibility and have the opportunity to lead policy reviews. This will support staff to recognise the value in their opinions as practitioners and how they can influence our policy making.

Research implications

Whilst transitioning to a Froebel Centre we have revisited many aspects of our practice. This research has focused in on how we review our policies whilst embedding Froebel Principles. It has challenged our thinking and pedagogy. Sometimes we assume people have knowledge or have been included. The research has highlighted the importance of having a cross section of stakeholders involved in our policy making. Taking time to research facts, source updates and consult with stakeholders ensures a more professional and updated policy. It has opened up opportunities for staff to take more of a lead role and be proactive in sourcing information. They now value this opportunity to be more transparent with families and are now looking at other ways to involve families in the life of the centre.

When staff take time to research and learn it enriches their pedagogy. It improves their relationships with families. Staff recognise it as their responsibility and not just senior staff’s. It aids staff leadership skills giving them confidence to be more proactive in the improvements and decision making of our centre. We can see how ethos, vision and aims all link into every aspect of our service.

Resourcing will be focused around time therefore we need to be disciplined to ensure that we protect time for research and consultation for all our policies. Once we have this fully embedded we won’t find it so difficult to make time.

It is our vision that we will have a uniformed approach to all of our policies and recognise that it will take time to update all of our policies ensuring the Frobelian principles are fully embedded.

We currently support and share our policies with other Early Years Centres and will continue to do this. We will update and visit our Centre policies as policies and procedures update both locally and nationally.

Practitioner enquiry

Participating in this project has highlighted the benefits and impact of practitioner enquiry. It has empowered practitioners and given them ownership of driving forward improvements. It has allowed them to build on their skills and knowledge. When staff take ownership of research or improvements they ensure that these are maintained and continued. It has highlighted the importance of ensuring that all families, children and staff are given the opportunity to contribute to the life of the centre.

Moving forward all practitioners will be given the opportunity to lead on policy making, supporting their research skills and involving/communicating with children and families to gather opinions and views.

Leadership learning

This course has helped me disseminate more control and responsibilities to practitioners. It has supported our Froebelian journey as we work towards becoming a Froebel Flagship Nursery and how we embed the Frobelian Principles. It reminded me of good practice pre-covid and the need to re-start or re-visit. I previously thought that research was very time consuming and additional work but now have a renewed respect for research and its benefits. Research will be embedded into our professional practice going forward.

I very much valued the opportunity for professional dialogue with practitioners/leaders from my own authority as well as other Froebelians.

Author and role

To be completed

Comments from other network members

What did you appreciate about this research? What forward-looking questions did it raise for you?

  1. Donna Green
    Donna Green
    15 Jun 2023 at 11:56 am

    Well done Megan you have given this task some serious consideration. I think you have displayed this well and been honest in your approach.
    Questions for consideration: How does the setting vision, values and principles weave through the Family Policy?


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