There are different possibilities for the implementation of a sustainable educational partnership with parents. A few of these are presented below.
Topic-specific parent-teacher conferences are a traditional educational and information service provided by ECEC centres for parents. With regard to strengthening media literacy, parent-teacher conferences are well suited to informing parents about upcoming media education projects and their goals, for example. The parents' possible concerns, opinions and attitudes regarding the topic of "media in ECEC" become clear and can be openly discussed.
The parent-teacher conference also offers the opportunity to provide parents with expert advice on how to support their children in the competent use of the media. It is also an ideal opportunity to find out which parents may be working in the media sector (e.g. in a library, ad agency, publishing house, IT or journalism) or have a special hobby in the media sector (e.g. photography or filming).
On the parent-teacher conference, for example, you could think about the importance of media literacy for children. Lectures or short contributions from experts are also possible.
I recommend that you assess existing media offers for children together with their parents.
Exchange of experiences
Parents' regular round-table discussions, parents' cafés or discussion groups give parents the opportunity to exchange experiences and thus help with family upbringing practices. Such meetings can be organised and planned independently by the parents or supported and initiated by the ECEC centre. Due to the importance of media in the lives of children, parents usually have a strong interest in exchanging views and educational practices among them.
As an ECEC professional you could support the different forms of exchange of experiences - insofar as it is desired by the parents - in a moderating way. Setting up a polarising thesis or a small input on which the parents should express their opinion can make the beginning easier.
It can also be very helpful to ask questions and record different opinions with sticker dots on the flipchart. You will quickly notice which positions are present among parents and whether there are worries or fears about specific topics. You can collect open questions and go through them again in the next discussion group or in a topic-specific parent-teacher conference.
As an ECEC professional, you do not have to find all the answers. It is also possible to involve parents more in preschool media education and, for example, to divide research on the topic between mothers and fathers.
This approach to parental involvement focuses on parents and their individual experiences. In a personal conversation or a questionnaire, specific questions on the topic can be used to gather important background details and information about the use and significance of media within the family. A survey using an anonymous questionnaire also gives parents the opportunity to express their concerns and problems openly and without hesitation.
In addition, parents can be persuaded by deliberate questions to observe their children (even) more attentively and to deal with the concrete media perception and use by their children. Through direct reflection of the child's behaviour, parents can be made more sensitive to the topic. Furthermore, ECEC professionals receive important information and impressions about the individual preferences of the children outside the ECEC centre routine. Offers for parents can thus be prepared and targeted precisely based on the results of the survey.
With the help of parent interviews, you can, for example, present the preferences of the children or recognisable developments within an age group specifically for your ECEC centre. The results can in turn serve as food for thought and an occasion for a theme-specific parent-teacher conference.
Compiling questions for parents’ interviews depends strongly on what you would like to use the results for and how you would like to use them. In order to get a general overview, I recommend that you use closed questions with multiple-choice questions. However, if you want to get a differentiated and individual insight into the differences and similarities as well as into the special challenges, open questions with a free choice of answers are a good choice. A mixed form of both question types is also an option. A further step could be to post the results of the parent survey on the notice board of your institution.
Parents' magazine and Newsletter
Parents' magazines and Newsletters give the ECEC centre the opportunity to collect topics from the ECEC's everyday life that is either cross-cutting or specific. Invitations to parents' evenings, discussion groups or planned events such as project shows can also be published in Magazines and/or Newsletters and the results of interviews or projects can be printed.
A parents' magazine offers you the opportunity, for example, to collect opinions expressed by parents on a polarising question or to conduct a parents' interview on how to deal with a specific media topic. This gives the parents the chance to have their say or to identify themselves with the impressions and opinions of other parents. It may then be easier for the parents to contact you as an ECEC professional for support and advice.
Parents' magazines or Newsletters can be distributed digitally by e-mail or printed on paper. It should, though, be carefully considered whether and which contents are published on the ECEC centre website or a blog. Content that is not published in a protected area can be viewed almost anywhere in the world. In any case, it is necessary to have declarations of consent in advance and to clarify the copyright for the pictures as well as the personal rights of the persons shown.
If there is a certain regularity of such publications, they can also be used for anniversaries or in portfolios for the children entering primary school which you can distribute at a farewell party, for example, in order for them to remember the big and small events of the ECEC centre.
Parents can also take on tasks during planning and implementation, e.g. writing the texts, selecting topics or printing a magazine, and being involved in the process. During meetings which take place at regular intervals, it is possible to discuss which topics should be included in the magazine and which tasks could be distributed.
There are many ways to involve parents in the opportunities for participation and exchanging of ideas. It is important to consider the different motivations and time availability as well as the knowledge and skills of the parents and see who can support this practice and who can participate at their convenience.
In case a media project in a group attracts more attention to the topic of media or media education in ECEC and becomes more important, it is advisable to collect and provide information materials such as books, games or brochures. An overview of apps and websites on the topic can also be helpful.
Parents are primarily interested in information material which gives them concrete tips and helps them with their educational tasks. Some parents may also be interested in attending in-depth lectures or seminars. Corresponding programmes from universities, libraries, adult education centres or other educational institutions can often be found via the community and city homepage.
Parents often have some time to relax and get an impression of the activities in the ECEC centre when picking up or bringing their children. Thus parents can also be encouraged to deal with the topic of media if they are presented with suitable material such as posters put up at the front gate. The parents' attention is usually drawn more quickly when posters are embellished with collages, pictures and paintings of the children.
You are also advised to provide parents with media and games to borrow. You can then use parents as a point of reference to report on their experiences within the family during a parent-teacher conference or cafe.
Parents can also be involved in the compilation of information material. The majority of families have probably already dealt with the topic and are familiar with their media education tasks. There may also be parents who are employed in the media sector or possibly in media pedagogy and who can therefore provide recommendations or materials.
The results of various creative media projects offer a unique opportunity for contacting parents. Whether these projects are drawings, photo collages, own film or a radio play, the children’s results offer a great opportunity to invite the parents to a project show. Children should also be involved in presenting their work.
It is also possible to imagine a kind of media vernissage, which is integrated into already existing structures of the ECEC centre, such as an autumn festival or a Christmas party.
Open Parents’ Days
On an open day for parents, where parents spend a whole day on the ECEC centre premises, they not only can see how their children work with media and what creative results they achieve at school, but they are also provided with the perfect opportunity to gain access to a stage of the children's lives in general that one does not normally have. At the same time, parents can directly experience how the ECEC professionals implement media education in their ECEC centres.
Did you know?
SCHAU HIN! - The media guide for families informs parents and educators about current developments in the media world and media topics worth knowing about, for example smartphone & tablet, social networks, games, apps, media times and streaming. SCHAU HIN! provides orientation for parents and educators in the digital media world as well as concrete, everyday practical tips on how to competently accompany the media consumption of children.