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From Borders to Bridges: Transforming Our Relationships with Parents

by Ann Pelo
September/October 2002
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Article Link: http://www.childcareexchange.com/article/from-borders-to-bridges-transforming-our-relationships-with-parents/5014738/

"A child enters our school with a story, a life in her family. If we keep the child at the center of our work, we must consider her
family, or we have an incomplete child."
- Mara Davoli, educator in the schools of Reggio Emilia, Italy

For many of us who teach young children, abstract and well-intentioned discussions of "parent involvement" and "parent partnerships" have become commonplace. Yet many of us hold parents at a safe distance, not truly involving them in the life we share with the children in our programs; not building genuine partnerships with them. Too often, we construct boundaries around our classrooms - literally and metaphorically - that keep parents out, at least in any meaningful way.

As teachers we are protective of our classrooms; we claim them as "our turf" and we have a lot of power there. We establish the classroom aesthetic and the rituals and rhythms which shape our days with children. We create the culture of the classroom and set the tone for the relationships that grow in it. We determine the curriculum, choose the books and toys, and lead the circle times. And often, we expect children to leave their families at ...

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