Thursday, January 6, 2011

The Circle of Communication

Effective communication maybe very well be the key to optimizing care for your child.  A good child care provider should strive to provide regular communication with home in a format or formats that works for you.  The same is true for your communication with your child's care provider.  If you can provide him/her with helpful information on a regular basis, it will help your care provider to differentiate care in the best way for your child.

The information your care provider should share with you will vary according to your child's age and level of development.  At minimum, you should receive information about your child's eating, sleeping, and toilet habits while in care, as well as any injuries or symptoms of illness.  In addition, it is helpful to have a more complete idea of your child's day, such as skills/concepts practiced, developmental goals attempted/met, activities enjoyed, etc.

Your child's care provider, and by extension, your child, will benefit from sharing certain information from home.  It is helpful to know if your child had any issues with sleeping the night before, such as multiple wakings, problems falling asleep, sleeping in, etc.  It is also helpful to know if your child did/did not eat breakfast before coming to care.  You may also want to update the care provider on progress made with potty training, trying new food, etc.

What form can communication take?  It depends upon what works best for you, your child, and your care provider.  An infant or a pre-verbal toddler will need more detailed exchanges.  If your drop-off & pick up times are mainly calm, a simple chat may suffice.  But if you are often rushed, your child has difficulties with transitions, or a similar challenge, talking may not be the best medium.  Consider a care journal for your child--a notebook that goes between home and care each day.  You and your child's care provider can write notes back and forth.  Email, IMing, texting, and Facebook may be a good digital solution if you are all in agreement to the medium.

If your child's care provider shares general communication with all parents, be sure to take advantage.  For example, he/she may send home newsletters, update the business website, and/or (ahem)blog.  Read all communication when you are able so you can truly get an accurate picture of the care your child is receiving.

The African proverb, "It takes a village to raise a child" is often quoted and indeed true.  But perhaps it is even more true for those of us who have our children in child care.  Regular effective communication encourages consistency of care for the most precious thing in our lives: our children