Effective communication creates a learning environment where students can learn according to their individual needs in a safe and accommodating environment. Think about your early childhood education (or your child’s early education), was it flexible to suit individual learning experiences or were children required to conform to the teacher’s methods of teaching? If you answered the latter, do you think the former would improve the quality of education? Pedagogues’ in all divisions of education should possess proficiency in different levels of communication, whether they are teaching primary or secondary students or university alumni, to be able to address a combination of the various age groups (colleagues, students, parents or superiors). Educators will face difficulties in providing a satisfactory level of education without the necessary skills to communicate effectively to these groups of people. Early childhood educators with effective communication skills demonstrate an ability to adapt their teaching methods to suit the needs of their young individual students, which benefits the progression in child development. The teacher’s positive mood determines the emotional climate of the classroom, creating a healthy and safe learning environment for the children and allows teachers to communicate comfortably with children, parents and colleagues, therefore, resolving issues efficiently. Early childhood educators who communicate effectively with children and parents create a positive classroom atmosphere, where successful learning can take place. Teachers and parents must be able to communicate and cooperate to build a strong relationship for the best interests of the child. Do parents have an innate trust in teachers? (For them to leave their children in the teachers care, in some cases, almost a stranger) Whether or not this is accurate, teachers must build on this trust to create a supportive parent-teacher relationship. Each situation is different and teachers should be aware of their body language, and use of language, so when speaking with parents their communication should be different when talking to parents than when they are chatting with friends. The first step is establishing a dialogue by approaching the parent first and making them feel welcome and relaxed, as parents may be resistant in making first contact, due to, a bad experience with teachers themselves, as children or bad experiences in other schools with other teachers (Miller, 2003 & Roffey, 2002 as cited by Porter, 2008). There are different strategies teachers can use to maintain effective communication with parents and build strong relationships once they have made communication. Keeping a parents trust is important in maintaining open lines of communication so they can discuss concerns relating to the child and solve issues promptly. Teachers can gain parents confidence by always respecting confidentiality and avoiding rumors. If a parent finds out that, their child’s teacher breached confidentiality or is a known gossip, parents will find it difficult to confide in them with an issue regarding their child, particularly if it is of a personal nature. Parents are also more likely to approach their child’s teacher if they know they can discuss issues and reach a mutual agreement (Bender, 2005). Teacher-parent communication is all about showing trust and comfort with each other. Frequent communication between these two parties creates less tension, when an issue arises, allowing a constructive discussion to take place and reaching an agreement sooner without hostility. Teachers can increase parent participation in the child’s learning by updating them in upcoming activities and events, so they can be included in their child’s education, stay informed in their child’s successes and concerns, participate in special events, and contribute to their child’s overall learning process. The activities and responsibilities of the school should not be limited to the school environment and cease once the child has reached home, therefore, teachers and parents should allow room for overlapping (Edwards, 2000). Keeping parents updated on their child’s school progress allows parents to provide the necessary support and encouragement at home, giving them a better understanding of their child’s development. At the same time, teachers should obtain information from parents regarding the child’s progress at home, so teachers can help children accordingly at school. This back and forth communication between parents and teachers will provide students with a supportive network that benefits everyone concerned (Ramirez, 2006). It is also the responsibility of teachers to advice parents when their child is involved in an accident. Teachers should always take detailed notes of incidents, remembering to keep confidentiality (between parents), if more than one student was involved (Koza, 2007). If a parent became aware about an incident through their child, it may give the parent the impression that the teacher tried to conceal the incident. By keeping parents constantly informed, reinforces the parent-teacher relationship, giving parents’ confidence in the teacher’s ability to care for their child. Teachers need to be flexible in their teaching, to meet each individual’s needs. Teachers must demonstrate various teaching styles to accommodate how each individual “learnt-to-learn” (Edwards, 2009), by applying the learning methods children are familiar with enables them to accomplish more and feel comfortable in their new learning environment. The way children learned to do tasks at home is crucial to their learning when they reach early childhood education, since each child learned to follow instructions and complete tasks differently, it would be insensitive to treat all children the same without taking into account their cultural differences and experience (Marotz, 2009). Educators teaching young children must consider the learning methods each individual is already accustomed to and design their teaching methods around the children’s experiences, and so, communication can be used effectively by incorporating different teaching strategies such as speaking, writing and visual demonstrations. For example, a child who has learned to complete a task by reading instructions will perform more efficiently if they are able to read from the board or paper, instead of following verbal instructions from a teacher. Teachers should make the effort to understand each child’s previous learning experience and background, so they can identify the best teaching method required by each child. Teachers must adopt appropriate methods and language for teaching and should outline the schools (or teachers) code of conduct regarding language, to parents, so they can enforce the same rules at home to avoid children bringing inappropriate language to school, causing disruptions in the learning of other children and disgruntling other parents. As teachers gain experience with children and parents of different cultures, religions and abilities, they develop their own communication skills so they can provide improved services to the children they teach in the future. A safe and positive classroom is an important environment for the learning and development of a child. As a classroom leader, the teacher must behave and communicate in a manner that creates a positive emotional climate in the classroom; firstly, teachers must resolve or reduce stress caused by work and personal issues, doing so outside of the classroom, so they can concentrate on the needs of the children when they are in the classroom. Secondly, by displaying self-confidence, a strong sense of self-worth and control over their emotions creates a classroom atmosphere where children are happy, comfortable and safe, as a result, children respond more positively to their teachers and classmates (Marotz, 2009). Ebbeck & Waniganayake (2003) stated that young children generally have a sense of happiness and positiveness in them, but society depresses this and upsets the way children view the world and future, by creating fear in them (the media showing violence, bad behavior, and superficial concerns). However, teachers can empower children by showing them “how to take their place in society and create a better now and future” (Ebbeck & Waniganayake, 2003) and give them a feeling of optimism in everything they try to accomplish. Teachers who build a trusting bond with their students are also better equipped, in understanding each individual, allowing children to open up and discuss personal problems with them. This enables teachers to speak and listen to each individual easily and identify signs of possible abuse, bullying or other health and safety concerns. In conclusion, effective communication is essential to all learning environments and without it, teachers will struggle to teach and students will face learning difficulties, resulting in a decline in the quality of education. In early childhood education, it is up to the teachers to ensure that each child’s education environment is safe and comfortable for the child, by showing flexibility in teaching to meet individual requirements and showing care and understanding to assist children with concerns. A strong parent-teacher relationship creates a support network where information is exchanged and issues are solved, to allow the child to concentrate on his or her learning and development. Early childhood educators are there to guide and support children in all aspects of life.
Ebbeck, M. & Waniganayake, M. (2003). Early childhood professionals: Leading today and tomorrow. East Gardens, Australia: Maclennan & Petty Pty Ltd Edwards, MC (2000) Center for effective parenting is a collaborative project of: The Jones center for families, 3. Retrieved from http://www.parenting-ed.org/handout3/Parental Involvement/Communicating with Teacher Handout.pdf Edwards, S. (2009). Early childhood education and care. Castle Hill, Australia: Pademelon Press Koza, W. (2007). Managing an effective early childhood classroom. Huntington Beach, USA: Shell Educational Publishing. Marotz, L.R. (2009). Health, safety, and nutrition for the young child (8th ed.). Australia: Cengage Learning Porter, L. (2008). Teacher-parent collaboration: Early childhood to adolescence. Camberwell, Australia: ACER Press Ramirez, L (2006) Parent teacher - The benefits of creating a supportive parent teacher relationship. Retrieved from http://www.parenting-child-development.com/parent-teacher.html