Communication : The Relationship Key.
One of the crucial elements of working in home with families and children is really what is key to every relationship - communication! Why? It is the back bone of building a respectful and trusting relationship between parents and carers.
This communication begins right at the get go when applying for a position with a family right through to the end of day summary. If the communication chemistry isn't right - then it is very hard for you to do your job and for families to entrust you with their children. Ideally, like any healthy relationship - you need to be able to be open and honest about yourself and your time spent with their children.
Over my 10 years of working in home with families, I have found every family is different - however all have appreciated in depth communication through out the day.
I am not so much talking about 'milestones' or 'charts' - for me the important communication are the daily happenings.
Early Communication + The Interview
The way you present yourself during these early stages really sets the tone for the working relationship. The ways you expect to be treated, the ways in which you will invest in the position and connect with the family all need to be presented and communicated during this initial period. It is important to reflect on your values in your position working in home with families - be honest about who you are and same for the family. Some carer and family matches are not meant to be - an ideal relationship with strong communication and respect - generally requires similar core values.
The Communication Book
Each of my families and I have a written log of our days together - this provides the families with the opportunity to leave me notes about food, sleeps or medication etc and I can provide them with an outline of our day in regards to sleeps, food, medication, our outings - plus the opportunity to write down things that I may not remember at the end of a 10 hour day - falls, incidents, babychino's, funny things the children say or things they made.
It is a way of me taking responsibility for the plans we make during the day, an easy over view for families, something that really isn't possible daily and for each individual child at a childcare/kindergarten service.
The Photo + Text
I can't imagine what it is like to leave your child with someone - particularly when you are new to caring for their children! But I do know it is a really big thing to do! There is a lot of trust you are placing in another human being! Something that should not be taken lightly! Something as simple as text messages and photo's sent though out the day are a god send for parents away from their children. A way of feeling reassured that their children are happy and being cared for - and in some way feeling as though they are part of their day also.
I also keep a diary of each of my days/weeks with my families. I try as hard as I can to keep on top of this, as it is a way of keeping the text message photos and a summary for the children and families as they grow. I commence many of my positions with children when they are in their first few months of life - a lot happens between 6 months and 3 years. The foundation for their sense of self and sense of the world is developed in this time - I feel completely honoured to be part of this - it is my way of documenting this relationship.
Remember - communication comes in many forms, written, verbal, non verbal, photographs, videos, art work. From the first method of communication to the last - a healthy relationship should be able to discuss the child's day openly with the family. This then should also filter into how you discuss your pay, holidays, sick days so on and so forth. All relationships are built on the same foundation of trust - respect - communication. The most healthy will be a balance of all three working in harmony!