Creating Strong Foundations Through Meaningful Home-Centre Partnerships
Imagine the thrill of examining human bones or getting to ask a doctor about how our skeletal system works. For the K1 and K2 students of My Montessori Preschool @ Bullion, this was something they actually got to experience this year.
It was all part of the preschool’s curriculum, which empowers children to select topics of interest each term. Ms Charlene Ng, Principal, explains that each term, their children work with teachers to select a project theme – for a total of four projects a year. Based on their selections, the teachers create a syllabus that focuses on experiential and self-directed learning.
During Term 1 of 2022, the children decided on a ‘Skeletal System’ project. As part of the school’s home-centre partnership initiative, teachers reached out to ask parents who are doctors to participate.
An engaging & collaborative learning approach
Dr Aissa Hundal was one of the parents who took part. Over a Zoom presentation, she addressed questions that came from the children. Another parent, also a doctor, sent a box of human bones (used for teaching purposes) to the school to facilitate experiential learning. This hands-on experience greatly enhanced the lessons and made them truly memorable.
and interactive zoom sharing with Dr Hundal.
Dr Hundal, whose six-year-old son, Priam, is in K2, shared that the online presentation was a great way to be involved in her son’s learning. It was also an opportunity for her whole family to participate. Her husband borrowed a skeleton model for the online presentation, while her older daughter helped in the preparation of the presentation.
“She even gave me tips, such as suggesting that I ask the class questions to keep it interactive,” Dr Hundal recalls. It was a great – and challenging – learning adventure for herself too. “It was harder than expected to answer the questions in a way the children could understand,” Dr Hundal says.
“Through these interactions with the preschool, I see the great efforts that the educators take and how they partner parents in their children’s learning and development.”
Benefits of home-centre partnerships
According to Ms Ng, home-centre partnership develops positive classroom experiences by creating opportunities for parents to be meaningfully engaged in a child’s early years.
Parents are encouraged to support their children in school projects. This can take the form of guiding them in research, co-creating do-it-yourself costumes or helping in presentations.
Parents are also invited to participate in various class activities. “We rope in parents to share about topics that they are experts in,” Ms Ng shared. “This adds a lot of value to the children’s learning.”
This collaborative relationship between parents and early childhood educators helps to build a love for learning, not only when they are in school, but at home as well.
Building rapport and relationships
Building a strong partnership with parents, says Ms Ng, is something that takes time.
The preschool does this by engaging parents across multiple channels. Individualised updates and feedback are sent via email or WhatsApp, while general news is communicated via regular e-newsletters.
“We believe strongly in communicating with parents as it creates a positive, transparent and trusting mutual relationship that contributes towards the growth and development of the child,” says Ms Ng.
These interactions foster a healthy and more positive relationship between parent, educator and child. When parents and teachers work as partners, children do better in school and at home.
Ms Ng points out: “It is helpful for children to witness their teacher and parent communicating and sharing openly. It allows children to see that their parents are involved in their learning, and that their needs and progress are being shared.”
She says that this long-standing rapport came in handy during the pandemic when the school initiated two-weeks of home-based learning. “Because we were already communicating on a daily basis with parents, we were better able to make the most of this period of home-based learning.”
Ms Ng shares that they found themselves running zoom lessons for parents on assignments and activities so that parents, in turn, could help facilitate children’s learning at home.
Benefits of home-centre partnerships
Strong home-centre partnerships can benefit the child and parents. They support children’s learning and social-emotional development, while strengthening parents’ involvement in their child’s learning experience.
For working parents like the Hundals, the regular updates from the school offer a reassuring ‘link’ to their son. says Dr Hundal, “We are updated on what topics he’s learning in school in a particular week, the preparations
needed and even the social events like birthday celebrations. We are very much involved and connected to what’s going on.”
The children putting up an online performance on ‘Parents’ Day’ to show their appreciation to their parents.
According to Dr Hundal, it is useful to hear from teachers on how Priam is interacting with people in his preschool, and his motivations for learning. “I think it's helpful in understanding my son better, and how he is doing in a different setting,” she says.
Ms Ng encourages parents and preschools to work together. When parents and educators work as partners, it creates a mutual and synergistic alliance that can result in many positive outcomes. She says, “Working together, we can truly become partners to support and enrich children’s learning, development and wellbeing.”
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