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Relationships Matter

By: ANNE MACKEN

Tuesday 20 August 2019

As a manager of a full day care setting, I have come to place a huge value on the relationships we have with our families and community. This value is something that is echoed by all the staff in Happy Days because we have to share our ethos, otherwise it just doesn’t work. I do realise that this takes time, effort and patience, but to enable this staff must be confident in themselves and their practice to build that relationship, and not feel overawed by parents spending time in their rooms.

Reflecting on how a parent must feel when they first set foot inside your door, not knowing anyone in your setting and having to leave their most treasured children in your care, must be one of the most frightening moments of their lives. This has made us realise how important a settling in period is, as it is the space where a parent builds trust and a relationship with the key person and the setting. Over time, we have come to understand that having a standard settling in process needs to meet the needs of all children and families. If a parent is insecure and upset, the child will sense this. We now understand that we are settling the parent along with their child, so a settling in period needs to be flexible to ensure the parent and child begin to feel confident in the care we provide. The couch in the room shows parents they are welcome to come in and sit for periods of time just to see how things are in the room. They will observe how well the interactions are between children and staff. They will see how the staff cope under pressure and all this reassures a parent. When parents begin to feel confident in the care given in our setting, the child will sense this. 

A person’s true values and beliefs will show in their everyday interactions with children because it is how they think and feel when they are working with them. Following a child’s routine speaks volumes to the parent as they can see that the needs of their child is paramount. Allowing a child to follow their natural sleep pattern is giving the child their right to sleep when tired. Standing over your policy of allowing children to sleep when they are tired even when a parent may request to not allow the child sleep as they were up all night, is also reinforcing how you are prioritising the child’s rights in your setting. We can all associate something in our lives that gives us the comforting feeling; something we go to when we need a little TLC. This is why we think that a child should be able to bring their little things from home that brings them a sense of comfort, especially when they’re in our setting away from home. An open-door policy that actually is what it says gives parents a sense of security knowing they are welcome in at any time of the day unannounced. This tells a parent that they are respected as the primary care giver and that what you see is what you get.

 

Bio:

Anne Macken is the manager of a large full time community setting in Ballyporeen, South Tipperary. Anne has over 30 years’ experience in early years opening her own preschool at the age of 18 after completing the IPPA introductory course. She then moved to developing a community preschool and manged this on a voluntary basis until the purpose built facility opened in 2010. She is very focussed on supporting both her staff and children to reach their potential, by engaging in the Aistear in Action initiative pilot program, and is currently in the process of revalidating for Siolta QAP. Over the years she has completed her Level 5, 6 and most recently Level 8 degree in Early Education. She has a post grad qualification in children and loss as well as the LINC programme and accountancy qualifications. As an advocate of the fact that qualifications bring higher quality, more than 50% of her staff hold degrees in Early Education and Care.   

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