education.govt.nz

Keeping it simple creates better relationships with parents and whānau

Issue: Volume 98, Number 4

Posted: 11 March 2019
Reference #: 1H9rvK

When it comes to communications, less is more, Stoke Montessori preschool has found.

Keeping it simple Stoke Montessori preschool in Nelson has found that their parents want fewer communication options, and face-to-face communication and a whiteboard has greatly improved relationships.  

Senior Directress Gina Green says that with multiple ways of communicating such as through social media, meetings and a newsletter, some parents can feel “bombarded with information”.  

Late last year Gina realised the school’s communications approach wasn’t working as, despite its numbers growing from 14 children to 26, community meetings had been cancelled a number of times due to lack of interest. Parent aspiration forms weren’t being completed. There was no enthusiasm for supporting involvement in the Santa Parade, or other initiatives such as Book Club.

Gina says there was a communication issue, especially with new parents. “We felt there wasn’t open communication.” So an internal review began.

To find out what the problem was, a questionnaire was put up on Educare, and a kōrero was held in a relaxed setting in the school grounds, to find out what parents thought.

The feedback was there were too many channels used, whānau often did not feel welcome inside the teaching space, they preferred talking one-on-one with staff, and wanted a simplified message board.

“So now we are taking time for more verbal interaction when parents drop off or pick up the children. The school now primarily uses one medium, a whiteboard, to communicate. The message board used to have a lot of messages on it, but now it has just three.”

More parents are reading it, she says.

A sign over the door that used to ask parents to wait outside for their child has been removed. The aim of the sign was to ensure their children’s learning was not disturbed, but now parents are welcomed into the classroom and are interacting with their children and kaiako.

A “Whānau Wednesday” has been started, so that parents can come and spend time with their child as long as they are able. One parent said, “A highlight was being able to see the children prepare and serve lunch. They did a great job! I am really glad I had the opportunity to spend the morning at Montessori.”

Gina says talking individually with parents and caregivers is now a priority for the three staff. “We are aware this will be time consuming but also feel it will be worth it in the long run.”

The parents are more supportive of community events such as visits to farms, and events such as celebrations to mark Mothers’ Day and Grandparents’ Day.

Parent Esther Ludemann supports the changes. She says she doesn’t like Facebook and the many options that were used for communication were overwhelming. “I do read the whiteboard, but talking with staff is best. Often, in life today, being present is overlooked but it is important, and technology such as mobile phones and being online has its downside.”

The school ensures that at pick up and drop off times there is always a staff member to greet and talk to parents to pass on information, and the school gets regular feedback from parents, to make sure things are on the right track.

“Having positive relationships between everyone enriches the children’s learning opportunities,” Gina says.

Her advice for other learning centres is that it is a busy world and it is important to make the time for communicating in a way that suits people best.

He aha te mea nui o te ao? He tāngata, he tāngata, he tāngata!

What is the most important thing in the world? It is people, it is people, it is people!

Children help with preparing lunch.

Children help with preparing lunch.

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 9:05 am, 11 March 2019

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