3 Ways Early Childhood Educators Can Build Trust with Families and Children
By Victoria Miller, Quality Program Manager
Trust is an important factor in any field, but it is especially important in early education and childcare. There must be trust between both caregivers and families as well as caregivers and children. Families need to trust their child’s caregivers to ensure everyone is working towards the same goals and collaborating to ensure every child is reaching their full potential and growth, both in and out of the home.
Here are a few tips for building trust between caregivers and families:
- Open Communication—Utilize as many two-way methods of communication as possible in the classroom. Phone calls, messages, communication via child-care apps, etc. are all ways to encourage parents to communicate openly with you when they know they will receive a response in a timely manner.
- Demonstrate empathy and active listening—Listen to parents’ questions and concerns and hear what they are saying. Don’t listen just to respond, listen to understand. Remember that you are on the same team, you all want to see their child succeed and an understanding team approach is the best way to ensure that.
- Stay patient—Strong, mutually respectful relationships will not happen overnight. Families often feel they need to be able to fully trust you before they can voice those more important concerns. Be patient with parents—if they need to call and check on their child daily at first, that’s ok! They will begin to trust you if you keep communication open and address their fears/concerns as they come up, allowing a strong relationship to develop.
On the other side, children need to be able to trust their caregivers in order to learn and grow. Children need to be able to form secure attachments in their everyday lives and building trust with their caregivers is the first step towards that attachment that will allow them to explore freely and openly while in your care each day.
Here are a few tips for building trust with your students:
- Consistent care—As often as possible, children should remain with the same primary caregiver(s). Children take time to build trust and it takes time for caregivers to get to know their children. The more often they can be together, the faster that relationship can develop.
- Consistent behavior—Children feel safe and calm when they know what to expect. Stick to routines and consistent rules. Children thrive when they can accurately predict what will happen throughout the day and feel free to explore safely with you.
- Respect children as individuals—Get to know your students. Whether they are infants with various cues to get your attention or preschoolers with individual interests and likes, they are all very different. Get to know your students by listening to them and talking with them at their level. Offer comfort as needed (especially when initially building that trusting relationship) and learn how each child wants/needs your help in the classroom.
There are so many benefits when caregivers can have strong and trusting relationships with the families and children they serve, it gives children a team of caring adults that are working in their best interest each day. Remember to be consistent, respectful, and kind.