5 Things Teachers Should Know About Parents
In June 2016, ZERO TO THREE, in partnership with the Bezos Family Foundation, published the National Parent Survey Report, Tuning In: Parents of Young Children Tell Us What They Think, Know and Need.
Here are some key takeaways from the National Parent Survey Report:
Parents take great pride in their job. Parents love raising their child, but also recognize the challenges that come with the job. 90 percent of parents said parenting is their greatest joy, but 70 percent said it was also their biggest challenge.
Parents need and want information and support. 80 percent of parents work to be better parents, and the majority of parents say if they knew more parenting strategies, they would use them. Despite this motivation, however, almost half of parents say they aren’t getting the support they need during times of stress. Teachers can help bridge these gaps by forming trusting partnerships with parents, and connecting them with resources they can use.
It is important to make connections with dads and other caregivers as well. Dads and caregivers today are more motivated than ever, and want to be involved in their child’s life and education. As an example, in this study, about half of the dads said they didn’t know where to find information they could trust. This provides a great opportunity for teachers to get the entire family involved.
Parents have a difficult time finding resources they can trust. Six in 10 parents are sceptical of advice that doesn’t come from people who know their child and situation. That puts teachers in the perfect position to connect parents with reputable, research-based resources, such as NAEYC’s For Families area, that are useful for their specific needs. Digital resources are a great way to connect parents to experts. The majority of parents would like their digital resources in the form of websites or blogs created by experts.
What do parents want to know? They want current child development research on emotional development and brain development. They also want to learn about the development of self-control, and developmental milestones so they can be informed about what is age-appropriate. Moreover, they want information on effective discipline strategies and strategies that can help them find more patience, which many parents see as the biggest challenge of being a parent.
What can teachers do with this information?
Create trusting partnerships with parents. Remember, you gain just as much from relationships with parents as they gain from their relationship with you. Avoid a didactic approach, and instead, communicate with parents openly and share resources that can help them reach their specific goals.
Parents want to be involved, but it is important to keep in mind that people have busy lives and schedules, and not all parents will feel comfortable in the same context. When planning events, make sure to include the entire family, and keep the needs of all families in mind.
ZERO TO THREE. 2016. “Tuning In: Parents of Young Children Tell Us What They Think, Know and Need.” National Parent Survey Report. Last modified June 6, 2016. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/1425-national-parent-survey-report.
Danielle Riser ,M.S., has worked in the Early Childhood Education field for the past ten years. Currently, she is a third-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Delaware. She works at the Center for Research in Education and Social Policy, and is passionate about researching issues that impact families.