It is our role as educators to create a place where children feel completely at home. Where they can thrive as unique and valued members of the world around them. A home where children are happy, relaxed, engaged and safe. Family and home are a child’s first connection. We need to take that connection, honour it, and base our environment and practices on home as each child sees it. Home is unique to each family and to every individual. It is up to us to delve deeply into the meaning of home and incorporate it into everything we do.
As Family Day Care Educators we are in the wonderful position of providing care and education in our own homes, therefore creating a second home for the children and families to develop a connection to. The easiest and most effective way of developing this connection is by using the voices of the families, children and their community. Take those voices and incorporate them into your practice and your pedagogy. Include your village and build the idea of home around them.
When you are connecting with a family, remember this; they have trusted you with a miracle. Their child. There is no greater trust in the world. It is up to you to take that trust and nurture it. Build a strong foundation with that family, with all families. My favourite way to do this is by bringing the families in close.
What do I mean by this? Get them involved. Ask for their input. Ask for contributions. Find out as much as possible about the child, their family, their community. What do they like to do? What does family life look like for them? What do they eat? Do they co-sleep? What do they value? Where do they holiday? What songs do they sing, books do they read, stories do they tell? What are their rhythms and rituals? What does a typical day look like? Gather as much information as possible, take that information and transform what you have gathered into your environment. You may have a family that values reading together; provide lots of reading spaces, a few comfy cushions, a soft rug, baskets of books. Find time to curl up with that child and read when you can. Another family puts value on cooking and eating; turn your mealtimes into occasions. Add a lovely tablecloth, set the table beautifully, add flowers as a centerpiece, serve nutritious foods that reflect the family’s culture, or ask families to bring in foods from their culture (always check for allergies and intolerances)
Have photos of children and families available, so the children can relate and interact with them. Showcase memories and moments that they honour and value. Display art work , collect family artifacts and make them available, provide pockets of interest for every child, serve food that they cook and eat at home. And find time. Find time to connect, time to gain an understanding of every unique personality, time to gain an idea of who each child is and their place in the world.
Slow down and enjoy the children, just like you would with your own children in your home.
Gather these ideas of home and family and base your practice around them. There is nothing more important to a child than the concept of family and home. It is the beginning of their story. Make it a part of yours.