Módulo 8: Relaciones recíprocas entre la escuela, la familia y la comunidad

alcanza-banner-mod8

Author and Work Group Leader:

Lourdes I. Serrano Alicea

Co-Authors:

Janet López Javier
Marilyn Morales Morales

Self-Assessment

The following table lists several situations that describe relationships between the school, the family, and the community. Indicate whether they characterize you and your educational practice.

Situation
Yes
No
I respect the cultural differences of each family.
Every day I communicate to parents their children’s problems or conflicts.
I make parents feel good by emphasizing on some of the positive and interesting situations that their child was involved in during the day.
I am an expert on child development.
I communicate respectfully with parents.
I invite members of the community to participate in school activities.
I help parents understand when they are interrupting the educational process.
I am an active member in the community.
I listen to the parents’ requests and focus on my educational plan.
I encourage parents to take equal part in the decisions that concern the child’s holistic development.
I request information regarding the children’s development to their parents and incorporate it as part of their assessment.
In order to improve my students’ educational experience, I ask the community for financial assistance.
I hold meetings with parents during the day, while children are in naptime.
Parents may visit my classroom at any time.
Parents are in charge in my classroom.

Introduction

In Puerto Rico, children’s formal education has long been considered as pertaining only to the teacher, thus establishing a relational paradigm between the child and the educator. Nowadays, we are faced with the reality that parents are crucial partners in the education of their children. Their participation is crucial for the success of both the student and the school. The bond with community members is also important, especially if the goal is to maintain reciprocal relationships among all sectors.

01

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has established developmentally appropriate practices that state the importance of developing reciprocal relationships with families which involve: mutual respect, cooperation, shared responsibilities, and the negotiation of differences to achieve a common goal (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). This module, “Reciprocal Relationships between the School, the Family, and the Community” will be discussed under the ecological framework which is one of the many existing theories on families (Klein & White, 1996).

Bronfenbrenner (1990), in his ecological theory, states that people do not develop on their own; instead they are influenced by all the different circles they are a part of; such as the family, the school or educational program, and the church. The way in which these elements interact also affects development. Therefore, Bronfenbrenner sees the interaction between home and school as an incredibly important aspect of child development. Therefore, the teacher has the responsibility of involving parents, family, and community members in the educational process in order to enrich it and help everyone understand their particular roles in that process.

According to this theoretical framework, children always develop within a relational family context. This is not only the result of ontogenetic factors, but also of the person’s interaction with immediate family and other components of the environment and the community.

The active and committed participation of parents in their children’s educational process is ultimately aimed at creating a positive impact on relationship development and strengthening, the child’s holistic development, and the community. This should begin during preschool—the child’s formative years—.

0302

As a result, teachers face a tremendous challenge on a daily basis because they are responsible for building and preserving relationships between the school, the family, and the community. This task is intrinsically linked to their commitment to providing the child with the best educational experience possible. Thus, educators in training must know and practice:

  • Concepts and strategies that are appropriate to the development of reciprocal relationships between the school, families, and the community;
  • Integration and participation activities between the school, families, and the community;
  • Possible obstacles for integrating the work of the school, families, and the community.

Teacher, Caretaker, and Educator

In early childhood education, there are many terms we use to refer to the people who are in charge of their care. These names refer to the functions that are required of them and how they can achieve reciprocal relationships. The most common terms used are “caregiver,” “educarer,” and “teacher” or “educator.” The following are some general definitions that distinguish each occupation.

A caregiver is a person who provides child care services, but does not necessarily work with the formal educational aspect. They may work with children of all ages, either at home (their own or at the child’s) or at a care center. To be a caregiver, you only need to have parental approval to be entrusted with the care of children. There are other legal requirements for working at a day care center licensed by the Puerto Rico Department of Family Affairs; for example, presenting a Health Certificate, as required by the organic law of the Department of Family Affairs.

As for the educarer, they are individuals that offer child care services and include an educational component during their time with the minor. Educarers usually work at all-day educational or care centers.

The teacher, or educator, possesses a Bachelor of Arts, or higher degree, in Education and is certified by the Department of Education. According to Law 149, the teacher is the main resource of the educational process. Their primary obligation is to help students discover or develop their abilities and acquire attitudes and behaviors that will enable them to function as community members (Law 149, Chapter IV, Article 4.01). The educator’s tasks include planning the school program’s educational activities and evaluating the child’s progress while they perform said activities. The teacher is responsible for promoting the child’s holistic development.

05 06

A definition…

Reciprocal relationships – they are relationships in which the parties involved have equal participation in the process of achieving common good.

Something to discuss…

A mother arrives at the classroom nervous and breaks out in tears. She doesn’t speak; instead she just picks up her son and leaves. What would you do?

Caregivers, educarers, and teachers all have the responsibility of effectively communicating with parents to provide children with a better educational experience. They must also identify existing resources in their community that enrich the lives of children. Educators mediate between families and the community to ensure that all the elements will be integrated and that the young ones will benefit from all the available resources.

(After establishing the basic differences, the terms “teacher” or “educator” will equally refer to caregivers, educarers, and teachers.)

Something to think about…

Which other abilities do you think a teacher should possess in order to develop reciprocal relationships between the school, the family, and the community? 

Abilities of the Educator

An educator who fosters reciprocal relationships between the school, the family, and the community possesses several distinguishing characteristics. One of the most important is respect. Those who show respect to everyone and consider the differences among families are responsible workers, diligent and attentive, and always listen and take into consideration what other people have to say. Teachers also honor agreements made with parents and the community, and follow through on their commitments. Likewise, they maintain a professional image at all times. Educators must keep certain matters confidential and cannot violate the trust of parents and community members. Finally, teachers who promote reciprocal relationships assertively use different means of communication (oral and written) and store evidence of all instances of communication exchanged with parents and community members.

Teachers are the key for uniting the school, families, and the community. Without their desire to provide a better educational experience for children and their efforts to take advantage of family and community resources, reciprocal relationships between these three components would not exist.

Family

A school that has as a goal working together with families must consider that the concept of “family” has changed over time. Knowing and accepting this reality will be a fundamental aspect of reciprocal relationships between families and the school.

Family is the key to scholastic success (Rockwell, Andre & Hawley, 1996), but that which we call a traditional family—father, mother, and children—has undergone considerable change. Currently, only 20% of families in our society follow this model. The remaining 80% includes single-parent, rebuilt, or divorced families (Benokraitis, 2005). As a result, there are more complex family dynamics, in which, for example, both parents work and the child’s care and education is delegated to strangers or some member of the extended family, such as grandparents or aunts and uncles.

Understanding the different family compositions of modern society is important in order to work with each one, according to their peculiarities and needs. These include nuclear families, extended families, single-parent families, and same-sex parents.

Something to discuss…
 Which of these is considered a family?

  • Mother, father, and children.
  • Husband and wife.
  • A single woman and her three children.
  • A 52-year-old woman and her adoptive mother.
  • A man, his daughter, and her son (his grandson).
  • An 84-year-old widow and her dog.
  • Three grown-up sisters who live together.
  • A mother and her two children from a previous relationship, her new husband’s children from another relationship, and their children from their new marriage.
  • An aunt, her nephew, and her parents.
  • A divorced man, his girlfriend, her son, and his grandmother.

All of these are families and have a particular internal structure. What make them different are the demands and challenges they face (Klein and White, 1996)

A definition…
Family bonding strengths – interpersonal skills and social and psychological characteristics that give families a positive sense of identity and promote a satisfying and fulfilling interaction among its members. They stimulate the development of the potential of the family and its individual members and contribute to the ability of being able to work efficiently under stress or in a crisis (Stinnett, 1979).

Family Strengths that Promote Reciprocal Relationships

Much research on the subject of families has focused on deficiencies and weaknesses, but not on their strengths or on what makes them happy. This last factor is important as a strategy to promote reciprocal relationships.

Although each family is different, Stinnett (1979) demonstrated that well-adjusted families have certain patterns or qualities in common which enable them to survive and thrive. These common patterns are known as family bonding strengths and include: commitment, a sense of well-being, communication, appreciation, spending time together, and the ability of working under stress and in a crisis or conflict (Rockwell, Andre & Hawley, 1996). Below we will list each of these strengths so that the teacher-in-training will learn and use them to build reciprocal relationships among the school, families, and the community.

Commitment – This bond is a commitment to family that requires time and energy. It entails that all family members are committed to help each other reach their full potential. However, this does not mean that some must suffer in order for others to grow. Commitment is expressed by attending family reunions and participating in important events, such as graduations, competitions, and awards.

Sense of well-being – A sense of well-being in a family is the belief in positive human interactions. It helps family members trust each other and teaches them to love. This is not to say that problems will not arise. Well-adjusted families also have their share of difficulties, but their trust in and love towards one another allows them to effectively handle their disagreements.

Communication – Efficient communication among family members requires clear and direct channels between the speaker and the listener. Families develop complex ways of communicating. In fact, family members may be unaware of what is being expressed by a word, phrase, or action. Individuals use a combination of verbal cues and gestures to consciously convey messages.

Appreciation – Showing appreciation is the result of the interaction between commitment, a sense of well-being, communication, and other family bonding strengths. It includes recognizing beautiful and positive aspects in other people and letting them know that you value those qualities. Appreciation also entails being willing to receive compliments..

Spending time together – Spending time together as a family can be one of the most rewarding experiences for humans. Two of its important aspects are quality and quantity. The time that well-adjusted families spend together—if frequent—is of great value to everyone involved. Spending time together gives members of a family a sense of identity that cannot be acquired otherwise.

Ability to work under pressure or during a crisis – All of the above-mentioned family bonding strengths combined form a power core for families. This core serves as an asset when conflicts and crisis arise. Furthermore, this skill is also useful for reducing stress and preventing crisis. Well-adjusted families can thrive even in hard times, if they develop family bonding strengths.

Something to think about…
Take five minutes to list your family’s strengths. How do they compare to those presented in this section? 

Community

Community can be defined as a group of people who have something in common. When it comes to the relationship between the school, families, and the community the common elements are child-care centers or schools and the children who attend these places. When we speak of the immediate community of the school or day care center, we are referring to individuals or groups that are in the vicinity of the institution. We must also consider the particular community to which children or teachers belong. These communities could vary depending on the population to which the center or school caters.

Something to discuss…
The school will hold a Reading Fair to raise awareness among parents about the importance of reading stories in their homes to promote children’s language development. Who would you invite to read stories to the audience? 

Something to think about…
 Which motto would you choose to promote community participation in school affairs? A famous example is “Children first.”

08

There are resources in the community that teachers and the school administration can identify and use to enrich their children’s educational experience. These resources include people who live in the school’s vicinity and residents of the community in which the children live. These people can lend their time, knowledge, and abilities, as well as money to assist in the education of children. Organizations, businesses, and public or private agencies that are near care or educational centers should also be considered. These places usually promote the participation of their members or employees in activities related to the community’s benefit. Therefore, they serve both as a point in favor of the children and as an additional source of help.

It is important to consider that since children of different communities will be enrolled at the school; there will be more available resources and greater likelihood of obtaining the necessary cooperation of community members to meet the requirements of a particular type of assistance.

Make a list…
Think about the people who live in your community and the agencies or businesses that could serve as resources to help you in school activities. Make a list with their phone numbers and “talents.” Save it in case you need to ask for their help.

Educating the Family and the Community

Educating parents has historically been considered as a one-sided process since it was believed that educators understood children’s needs better than their parents. However, today we can say that parent education can be a very important component in the operation of a center or school.

It is necessary to identify current and potential leaders in families and in the community who can engage in various activities in the center or school and work with teachers in a participative, cooperative, and inclusive way. Families and the school must be made aware that the community is their ally and that together they lead children towards educational success through leadership, self-management, and empowerment.

Leadership

Some definitions…

leader – a person who leads such as a conductor or commander (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

leadership – capacity to lead (Merriam-Webster Dictionary)

Maxwell, in his book Developing the Leader Within You (1993), cites various studies that have shown that leaders are essential to organizing communities. They facilitate, give direction, teach, motivate, initiate activities, create opportunities, advocate the interests of the community, and catalyze the formation of groups to lead them during a crisis. Leaders are involved in decision-making processes, strategy planning, and the development of troubleshooting procedures.

Leadership development essentially focuses on the individual. Typically, groups of people attempt to guide the current leader into participating and developing their potential, providing them the opportunity to learn skills, contact new resources and information, and acquire new relationships. However, people are frequently appointed to fill these positions without any training. These tasks require skills such as working with others; serving as a leader, mentor, motivator, and role model; making decisions and understanding organizational policies in order to work more effectively.

Leadership can be seen as a group or individual characteristic. From a group standpoint, it is synonymous with prestige. Furthermore, it relates to the idea of holding a position, contributing to the group in important matters, or maintaining an emotional relationship between the group and the leader. As part of an individual, leadership means having certain characteristics, such as standing out among other people, keeping one’s ego and emotions in check, being determined, and maintaining authority (See Appendix 1).

Additional information…

Effective leadership

Effective leadership is a process by which you can gain a group’s support to achieve clearly identified goals. Certain factors determine a leader’s effectiveness:

  • Earning and remaining in the position (assuming and keeping leadership).
  • Meeting the group’s expectations regarding the organization and the implementation of plans (initiative, sensitivity, and identifying with the group).
  • Being motivated by the position.
  • Adapting to the changing requirements of a situation.

How do effective leaders behave?

  • Organize and provide opportunities for establishing goals
  • Are flexible and adapt to the changing demands of new situations.
  • Establish productive social relations through predictable behavior (demonstrated by emotional stability, reliability, and being levelheaded when giving recognition).

To achieve this, a leader must:

  • Facilitate communication.
  • Manage emotions and maintain authority without abusing it.
  • Be firm and not waiver.
  • Support and safeguard the group’s wishes and specific needs. 

Exercise…
  • Consider: Do you consider yourself a leader?
  • Which leader-like qualities do you see in yourself?
  • Contact and interview two parents, two teachers, and two administration members. Ask them their opinions on the use of volunteers in the school environment.
  • How would you start a voluntary leadership program with family and community members?
  • What obstacles could you face in starting this program?
  • What important topics should be discussed during a voluntary leader’s orientation (family and community members)?

The educator must be an exemplary leader in order to develop this quality in families and the community; and, thus, meet the needs of children and their environment. This will facilitate the holistic development of children and will use all of the resources available.

Empowerment and Self-Management

Our society is constantly undergoing a range of social and economic transformations that, in turn, generate other problems that have an impact on those who are more vulnerable (urban and rural communities with fewer resources). Clearly, this elicits changes in community life. Unemployment, poverty, drug addiction, crime, and health problems are just some of the many aggravating factors that we face in our daily lives and that impact the school system. To alleviate these problems schools, families, and communities depend on receiving timely help from programs managed by the central or municipal government. However, there are also times when the aid received is not sufficient for even the most essential situations.

Some definitions…

Empowerment – taking control of the community’s and the school’s destinies through participatory processes, thus breaking the monopoly of information and politics. This gives local groups the confidence they need to continue community projects and initiatives.

Self-management – initiative and base mobilization process to solve problems that, by internal agreement, are priorities in the community. 

The best solution to counteract this paralysis is for members of the educational community to take charge of their own destiny in order to solve problems and achieve their goals and ambitions through community self-management A united and organized community can achieve a consistent work plan that identifies available resources for establishing community development projects, through proposals to private or government agencies, according to the current need.

How do we foster self-management?

Schools are an essential part of communities and should be considered in the community’s improvement and development efforts. Therefore, schools must encourage a sense of belonging in educators, fathers, and mothers. Similarly, it must strive to make the community identify with the services offered at the educational center or school so that, in turn, they will become interested in getting involved in school affairs. Accordingly, it is necessary to carry out a process that ensures that the problematic areas or situations within a preschool or school setting will be addressed.

  • Identify problems or situations in the center or school.
  • Set priorities (the order in which they must be addressed).
  • Establish a committee involving educators, family members, and community members to meet those needs.
  • Define and undertake projects that achieve the desired changes, developing a collective vision for the future.
  • Train teachers, parents, and community members in order to improve the quality of the services offered at the school or center.
  • Create joint work plans that are in keeping with developmentally appropriate practices.
  • Ensure the allocation of funds (resources) to address the established priorities. This may be achieved through fundraising campaigns.
  • Evaluate the results in order to redirect efforts and resources, as necessary.
  • Disseminate project information through the publication of achievements.
Exercise…
  • What evidence can you offer to support the trend of an increase in the ability of parents to make decisions in children’s programs?
  • Which strategies are used to include parents and community members in the decision-making process?
  • What types of reactions (positive or negative) do they trigger?
  • Interview a parent whose child studies at the school or center. What kind of involvement opportunities are available for parents? What opportunities are available outside the program?
  • Discuss concerns or issues faced by the community’s educational programs. Which one is the most significant? Identify the individuals who are the best suited for addressing these concerns; for example, the mayor, legislators, and small-business owners. 

Developmentally Appropriate Practices
09

The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) developed and published practices considered to be appropriate for the education of young children in 1986 (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997, pg. v). In 1997, the organization published the book Developmentally Appropriate Practice in Early Childhood Programs in which they expounded their ideas about the different areas of education of infants through age eight. In this section, we will discuss those practices dealing with the reciprocal relationships that must exist between the school, families, and the community.

There are several issues that must be considered when using developmentally appropriate practices. These include building consistent and positive relationships between the child, a small group of adults (teachers), and other children enabling them to develop interpersonal skills. Thus, the classroom or care center transforms itself into a community where an organized environment is created, with routines that provide the ideal structure for learning (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997). As part of their duties, teachers make plans that allow children to achieve educational goals. Family members are included in these plans in order to support family culture (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997, pg. 18 and 21).

To build reciprocal relationships with families and the community, educational programs observe the following guidelines (Bredekamp & Copple, 1997, pg. 22):

  • To achieve goals, reciprocal relationships require mutual respect, cooperation, shared responsibility, and conflict negotiation.
  • Teachers work together with parents, with whom they maintain regular and frequent two-way communication.
  • Families and the community are welcomed in the program and have a say in the decisions concerning children’s care and education. Parents observe and participate in the program’s decision-making process.
  • Teachers recognize parents’ choices and the goals they have for their children, responding with sensitivity and respect to their preferences and concerns, without sacrificing their professional commitment to children.
  • Through daily, as well as formal meetings, teachers and parents share their opinions about the child and their knowledge of development and learning issues. Educators support families in ways that promote the abilities and competences in family decision-making processes.
  • The program involves families in assessment and planning processes to ensure accurate and complete information.
  • The program unites families through diverse services based on identified resources, priorities, and concerns regarding the child.
  • Teachers, parents, programs, social services, health agencies, and consultants that may have an educational responsibility towards the infant in different occasions must share information pertaining to the child as they pass from one level to another.
Think about your style…

Can you see yourself as a teacher who promotes the active participation of families and the community in the children’s educational process?

Do you think you are efficient in establishing the interpersonal relationships that a teacher is required to develop?

Strategies and Activities for Establishing Reciprocal Relationships between the School, Families, and the Community

The family is the primary educational environment for children (López & Alvarado, 2006). Involving parents in their children’s educational process increases the probability of success in school (Perdomo, 2005). When there is an effective relationship based on mutual respect, cooperation, collaboration, and good communication it promotes the child’s healthy socio-emotional development and minimizes abuse and neglect (Olson & Hyson, 2005).

What are the benefits of having reciprocal relationships among the school, families, and the community? Ecological Model (De Bord, 2001).
  • Children do better in school and in life.
  • Parents are empowered.
  • Parents develop confidence while working with their children at home.
  • The teacher’s morale improves as they bond with the community.
  • The school benefits by having the parents as allies and children perform better academically.
  • The community is strengthened.
  • Community members act as mentors and role models.
  • There is a greater sense of security.
  • Positive attitudes towards the school increase.

By fostering reciprocal relationships, we can respond more effectively to stressful family situations and offer the information and support necessary, as well as referrals to appropriate services within the community. Communication improves between educators and families, especially concerning difficult issues, when there is a supportive reciprocal relationship.

Although all parents form different bonds with their children’s teachers, most of them recognize the importance of maintaining reciprocal relationships with educators. However, some parents have financial difficulties or lack the time to actively participate in their children’s educational program. Nonetheless, all families welcome the opportunity to get involved in some way. This is the basis for building reciprocal relationships. Therefore, it is necessary to try different approaches to reach all families.

Research shows that when educators, families, and communities work together, the school improves and students obtain a good education; an asset that is necessary in a productive life (Educational Broadcasting Corporation, 2004) The family is an essential link for improving children’s education; therefore, the school must strive to reach family members. Parents wish that their children will succeed in life, but they require guidance in order to be more effective.

There is no specific program that can be equally applied to all schools, families, or communities (Epstein, 2004). However, teachers must emphasize the importance of parental participation in the educational system. Parents are the primary educators and role models of children. Thus, as part of its organizational policy, the school must establish a program that involves families and community members as active participants in their children’s education.

Time, organization, work, and effort are all required in order to develop a good educational program.

10 11

Something to consider…

What are the biggest challenges that you have found for establishing reciprocal relationships with families?
What activities have you carried out to engage parents in their children’s education? 

The following strategies may serve as a basis for your work as an educator at a care center or school. These are suitable to use with parents of all types of students, including those with special needs.

Strategy 1: Getting to know and reaching out to families

Getting to know and reaching out to families is not necessarily an easy task. In fact, it can prove to be a great challenge due to the individual differences of each family unit. The educator must establish a reciprocal relationship with parents, keeping in mind that they are a crucial element of the learning process. This is mainly because teachers obtain information regarding the children’s performance through their family members.

Examples of activities for identifying resources within families and understanding their needs

Various activities should be planned to bring families to the care center or school and get them involved in some way. This is essential for maintaining reciprocal relationships.

  • Resource bank (volunteers). Create a document containing basic information about the parents’ talents and skills which may benefit the school or care center. Prepare a list of tasks to be done throughout the school year. All families will have the opportunity to volunteer, marking those tasks they are willing and able to perform. This document should have a space to indicate the days and time when the person is available and how to contact them. Prepare flexible work schedules for volunteers, so as to encourage participation. Furthermore, organize volunteer work, provide training—if necessary—and recognize each participant’s effort. This will increase participation and productivity (See Appendix 2).
  • Parent-teacher meetings. During a parent-teacher meeting, allow each family to answer, on a sheet of paper, some questions that will enable the teacher to understand the group’s needs (this can be done anonymously). Some examples of questions are: What do you expect from this care center or school regarding your child’s education? How would you like to participate in the center or school? What are your concerns regarding your child’s education?
  • Questionnaire of needs. One way to get to know families is by inquiring about their needs and trying to meet them, in a spirit of reciprocity, through resources specialized in various subjects. Make a list of topics that the teacher believes could be helpful for parents when educating their children. Parents may also suggest other topics or activities that interest them. Hand out this questionnaire at the beginning of the school year (See Appendix 3).
  • Home visits. It is important to know which families agree to receive home visits and which ones do not. During the visit, share information regarding the children’s culture, skills, talents, and needs. Personal and deep conversation provides the advantage of getting to know and understand each family.

Exercise…
In general terms, which have been some of the parents’ needs in your care center or school? How have you addressed them? 

Strategy 2: Reaching out and meeting the community

It is important to identify those community members who may serve as resources and encourage them to participate in the school’s or care center’s activities. This will strengthen the academic program, family practices, and the child’s development and learning. Thus, it requires developing commitment, building confidence, and establishing good relationships.

Some suggested activities

  • Address book. Use a notebook to record the names (in alphabetical order) of community resources that have already been identified and include them in the center’s or school’s activities. This will enrich the curriculum and the teaching process. Classify the resources according to the work they do, the services they provide, or their location in the community. Also include their phone numbers. Each care center or school should create their own address book according to their resources (See Appendix 4).
  • Identifying organizations, programs, or services. These programs may be related to areas such as health, culture, social services, and recreation; they could be located within the community and work with families. The programs are necessary for referring children or parents who have particular situations or special conditions that have not been properly addressed. Create a table containing this information.
  • Coordinate services with multidisciplinary teams. In addition to the above-mentioned services, include those related to health, counseling, psychology, and occupational and speech therapy.
  • Provide services to the community. Use family members and teachers as resources. Plan events or special projects and invite the community.
Examples…
  • Health Fair
  • Recycling project
  • Musical activity

Strategy 3: Effective communication with families and members of the community

Communication plays an important role in our relationships with others. Therefore, we must maintain reciprocal contact between the school and the families regarding the academic program and the children’s progress.

Something to consider…
How do you communicate with parents? Which strategies do you use? 

Communicating with parents regularly is important in order to make them commit to the school or care center. Generally, teachers communicate with parents whose children exhibit a behavioral problem. Instead, teachers should use strategies to communicate with everyone, thus encouraging reciprocity. In this aspect, it is crucial to take each family’s differences into consideration. Teachers should strive to overcome language barriers whenever it is necessary. They must also keep cultural diversity in mind, making all families feel they are a part of the school or care center, regardless of the language they speak. The school is responsible for gathering the necessary resources to achieve effective communication with each family.

There are several types of communication:
  • Verbal – when we use words to communicate what we feel, think, etc.
  • Nonverbal – goes hand-in-hand with verbal communication; consists of gestures, body movements, visual contact, tone of voice, touching others, etc.
  • Symbolic – when we attribute meaning to things we use (clothes, hair, jewelry, house, car, etc.).

Something to consider…
Cultivate communication with the same effort and care as you would… an orchid. 

Strategies for achieving effective communication

  • Listen carefully.
  • Use simple language.
  • Say what you mean (precision).
  • Balance between what you say and what you express (consistency).
  • Be honest and maintain eye contact (authenticity).
  • Do not complicate things; instead go straight to the point (focus).
  • Present one idea at a time; do not overwhelm others with many ideas at once.
  • Adapt the message to the listener in order for it to be more effective.

Effective communication…
Gillepsie and Britt (2006) enumerate three key elements for effective communication between parents and teachers. They emphazise that the teacher must reflect on what they think or fees about the issue at hand and the parties involved. Thus, the educator recognizes their weaknesses before facing a situation. Teachers are also encouraged to carefully observe the situation using all their senses. This helps them make informed assumptions regarding what may be happening to a particular family or group. Finally, educators must be flexible in order to achieve their initial goal, since there may be more than one way to solve a problem. 

The following are some ways in which teachers may communicate with families:
13

  • Phone calls to the home – Use volunteers to make phone calls to invite people to school events (phone tree).
  • Informative media – Create a monthly newsletter to keep parents and community members informed about the most recent events (you may look for sponsors for this publication). The newsletter must be written in all the languages spoken by the parents of the care center or school.
  • Videos – Create short videos of the different classroom activities to show to parents.
    Parent-teacher meetings – Plan short meetings to inform parents regarding particular issues. Allow them to offer ideas or make suggestions related to the different subjects that comprise the curriculum.
  • Folders or manuals for parents – Include pertinent information about the center or school; such as vision, mission, goals, institutional policies, and calendar of activities. Distribute these folders to parents and discuss some important points during an orientation meeting at the beginning of the school year.
  • Home visits – Enquire whether parents mind receiving visits from educators. Given that personal contact may attract families, invite them to share their traditions, skills, and knowledge with the school personnel.
  • Meetings with parents – Hold at least one meeting per semester to discuss the child’s progress.
  • Parent workshops – Discuss the needs expressed by parents at the beginning of the course. The purpose is to offer skills or experiences that will help them as parents and as individuals.
  • Family packages – Include books, materials, and instructions for homework to be done with family members and shared with teachers and classmates.
  • Employment of interpreters – Hire interpreters to assist in the parent-teacher interaction whenever one of the parties speaks a different language.
  • Communication notebook – Use a notebook to communicate with parents, so that they will not have to come to the school or care center.
  • Monthly letters – Attach to these letters a monthly calendar for the classroom; introduce the topic to be studied and ways in which parents can cooperate (See Appendix 5)
  • E-mails – Send short messages or reminders to families.
  • Flyers – Place flyers around the center or school on your way to your classroom to announce important events.

Activity…

What other activities do you suggest for establishing reciprocal communication among the school, families, and the community?

What do you think about having a designated room for parents and community members to use? How would you use it to promote the bond between all sectors? 

Strategy 4: Forming bonds with families, school, and community

Provide the opportunity for families, as well as community members, to participate in classroom activities that reinforce the curriculum and foster good relationships between all sectors. The following are some activities in which parents and community members may become involved:

  • Reading stories
  • Preparing or demonstrating recipes (food preparation)
  • Planting seeds
  • Tending to vegetable and flower gardens
  • Making art projects with the children
  • Making family projects in the classroom during an established period of time agreed with the teacher (See Appendix 6)
  • Organizing and chaperoning field trips
  • Offering workshops
  • Letting children visit workplace or community institutions
  • Visiting the classroom and talking about their professions
  • Organizing art exhibitions of children’s work
  • Answering the school’s or center’s phone
  • Helping at fundraising activities for the school or care center
  • Organizing school picture sessions
  • Translating (into English or other languages) flyers, newsletters, or other school information.

Something to think about…
What other activities do you suggest to get parents and community members involved in the classroom as part of the curriculum? Name some. 

Educators must remember to thank and recognize families and community members, either in person or in public activities to reinforce the importance of their participation and create a good relationship between parents, community members, and educational centers.

Strategies for dealing with families of children with special needs

For over twenty years, parents of children with special needs have been actively involved with their children’s education, partly due to the recognition of the diversity of needs and the development of individualized educational programs (Special Practices and Programs, 1996). These are some activities that can help parents get involved in school affairs:

  • Establish resource centers (rooms) for parents, as a way to foster good working relationships between parents and teachers.
  • Provide essential training. This will help parents understand special education and the family’s role in collaborative planning. Also provide workshops about the subjects requested by the parents themselves.
  • Make updated information and resources available for parents and teachers.
  • Encourage the development of screening programs and other services for preschoolers and young children that may be offered at schools or care centers.
  • Provide parents with information about support groups and specialized services in the school or community.
  • Get parents involved in projects (related to their abilities or skills) that may be shared in class with the children during different class periods.

Strategies to encourage literacy at school and home

The family is the primary educational environment for children. Getting all family members involved in the children’s educational process will increase their probability of success in school (Perdomo, 2005). However, parents must also know school procedures and participate in them. To involve them in the literacy process, we must consider:

  • How do we create an environment that welcomes the participation of family members in the literacy process?
  • How can we encourage or involve parents who do not actively participate?
  • How can we work around cultural and language barriers that we may face when communicating with some families?
  • What resources can I provide to parents so that they can get involved in their children’s education?

Something to think about…
What other barriers would you add to the list? 

What barriers may hinder parental support?

  • Lack of interest
  • The child spends the day in different environments (home, care center, or school, etc.)
  • Language
  • Lack of time (both parents work away from home or the child comes from a single-parent family)
  • Ignorance about child development
  • Low education

These barriers should not hinder the educator’s efforts to establish reciprocal relationships with the family and get parents actively involved. Therefore, parents must understand that the literacy process begins when the child is born. It is important that families know that the literacy process helps children develop their language skills, phonological awareness, awareness of written material, and knowledge of the alphabet. Reading broadens children’s knowledge and vocabulary.

How can parents participate in this process?

Here are some suggestions for activities to do as a family.

  • Assign family projects about a specific subject that the child will do at home along with their family. The child will later share this homework with the teacher and classmates.
  • Let the children bring pictures of their families to share their home experiences.
  • Let the children take home pictures or assignments done at the care center or school, so that they may:
    • Share the day’s experiences with their families;
    • Answer their parents questions about what they did during the day;
    • Create albums or books using these pictures and give a family member information about each of them.
  • Talk, ask, sing, create stories, and play with your child. Communicate constantly with your child and allow them to freely express themselves. Ask open questions, instead of yes or no questions.
  • Read at home. Children enjoy reading stories.
    • Read the same book several times and imagine different endings together.
    • Read daily.
    • Show children the cover of the book and let them create their own stories.
    • Skip phrases while reading to encourage the child to finish them.
    • Allow the child to touch books, magazines, and newspapers daily.
    • Point to the text or words while reading to your child.
  • Point out signs, logos, and ads to your child while on a walk. Have paper and writing utensils available for your child to use.
  • Create your own library and every month add a book chosen by your child.
  • Visit libraries or bookshops with your child.
Something to think about…
What home activities for encouraging literacy would you suggest to parents? 

These are some suggestions you can use in conjunction with the Language module.

At the school or care center:

  • Meet with parents and discuss topics such as:
    • The importance of reading to the child
    • The importance of rhymes
  • Keep parents informed about the subject that is currently being discussed in the classroom, so that they can support the children at home. You may use:
    • Monthly calendars
    • Letters to introduce the curricular unit
    • Newsletter
    • Daily short conversations
  • Plan a field trip to a library and try to get parents involved in the process.
  • Write articles to parents (taking into consideration their native language) emphasizing the importance of reading to children. Include information about how children learn to read and write and how to help them develop their literacy skills.
  • Implement the use of family packages that include a book and related activities. The family will take the package home and perform the suggested activities, including reading the book as many times as they wish. The child will share their experience with classmates and educators.

Something to think about…
The tale of Little Red Riding Hood Which activities to encourage literacy skills can be included in the family package?

Consider…
Self-assessment of efforts – Just as the teacher evaluates the children’s progress each year, the efforts or strategies used for public participation should also be assessed. It is important to know what is or is not working and how it can be improved. Take into consideration the following:

  • Does the school or care center achieve its goals when it involves families and community members in its activities?
  • Do parents attend school events, workshops, and other activities? Why or why not?
  • Are there interpreters available?
  • Did the community collaborate in school events?
  • Does the center have an inviting environment?
  • Were the communication efforts effective?
  • How can you improve communication?

Discuss the results of this self-assessment with the staff and draft new strategies together.

Barriers that hinder reciprocal relationships between the school, families, and the community

Communication barriers

There are some communication barriers that prevent parents from participating in the affairs of the school or care center. The challenge lies in overcoming these obstacles and finding a way to engage parents. These are some common communication barriers:

  • Physical environment: includes noise, odors, and weather. These factors are of key importance to determine if communication will be successful. For example, if there is too much noise, the message could become distorted. Furthermore, the presence of bad odors or bad weather could make the persons involved feel uncomfortable. The ideal environment for communication should be free of the above-mentioned factors.
  • Biological factors: includes communication disorders, medical conditions, and temporary symptoms of physical discomfort.
  • Psychological factors such as prejudices and stigmas.
  • Social factors:
    • Language – families that speak a different language than the teacher. Educators must seek help from volunteers to assist these people in parent-teacher meetings, special events, and evaluations. All newsletters, evaluation reports, ads, and printed materials should be translated.
    • Level of schooling – includes illiterate families who barely form coherent sentences when speaking. The teacher must provide the necessary assistance and seek other nontraditional ways to include them in school affairs.
    • Regionalisms – terms used by people that are peculiar to their own geographical region.

Cultural barriers

Many parents may feel intimidated by the prospect of participating in school affairs. This is common among those who do not speak the primary language, are immigrants, have little or no education, belong to lower socioeconomic classes, have had problems with the law, have been the victims of domestic abuse, or have different beliefs. Given this, parents must understand that their presence in their children’s educational process is important. Parental attendance to the events of children (school events, special activities, and sport competitions) is crucial to the development of self-esteem.

From an ecological standpoint, working with education, academic achievement, and reciprocal relationships is impossible, if we do not observe and deal with the different elements involved in the environment and the immediate community of many children. These elements include violence, crime, poverty, low schooling, and cultural patterns. All of these factors are barriers that hinder the reciprocal relationships among the school, families, and the community.

According to Colón (2006), poverty, violence, corruption, and crime impact all sectors of the population; yet the main victims come from poor and marginalized communities. Educators must be aware of the children’s cultural and social background. It is quite likely that in any given classroom or center there will be students who are victims of one of the aforementioned situations. Understanding the reality of some families will allow us to meet the needs of the children and establish individual plans that serve to engage each member in the educational process of children.

Similarly, addressing cultural diversity in all educational environments is crucial. Respect for families is also essential, if we want to achieve an effective relationship with the school. Therefore, you must:

  • Show interest in family dynamics. If the family does not come to the school or care center, take the first step and visit them.
  • Express your expectations and allow family members to do the same. Parents must receive messages clearly. Allow them to express their needs and let them know that they can count on you, just as you will count on them.
  • Provide time and give space. Each family needs time and space to assimilate the information acquired and to be able to participate in activities. The educator must let them know their time is appreciated.
  • Observe and listen. Families need to be listened to and treated with respect. While they speak, observe the reactions and interactions among the family members. Offer assistance when deemed necessary.
  • Offer feedback. Recognize each family’s efforts to meet the program or classroom requirements. Use positive phrases that will motivate them to continue making an effort.

Each of these steps reinforces respect towards cultural diversity and promotes effective relationships.

Search for…
Newspaper articles about the social reality of life in Puerto Rico. Discuss them with your peers. 

15

In the last five years, university accrediting agencies have set new standards, in which diversity has been included as a key element for achieving successful results in teacher training and general education (University of Puerto Rico, 2003). These approaches are not so different from our reality as early childhood professionals, regarding the relationship between the family system, the child, and the community. According to Morales (2005), teacher effectiveness depends on historical and cultural perspectives, especially because it is important to renew citizens’ private lives reorganizing the ties between what is private and what is public. Morales states that we have forgotten that sense of belonging to a community. Therefore, educators must renew public life, that sense of belonging, and recognize the meaning and importance of everything we do.

As public, social, and professional experience weakens, the concept of what is “public” (the relationship with each other) becomes an empty abstraction, and our future as human beings and professionals depends on recognizing the possibility of renewing public life (Morales, 2005). The relationship between the school, families, and the community, just as public life, is related to unity and the ability to overcome social breakdowns and to reconcile everything that has been alienated. Therefore, a good start towards harmonizing public and private life would be to raise awareness of our roots and existing socio-cultural situations. Not recognizing these factors creates a barrier that limits the reciprocal relationships among the school, families, and the community.

Culture determines teaching styles and the way of exercising authority. A violent society will breed violence. An altruistic society will raise altruists. Altruism is the center of pro-social behavior, and the child’s development of this quality depends on family and community values. Both families and communities represent social models and sources of explicit rules of conduct that will affect the child’s behavior and attitude towards learning. For example, external factors can foster household violence.

By interviewing several community leaders, we have discovered that their communities are characterized by depressing environments with high abuse rates. Criminal activity is escalating and their community program facilities are often dark and depressing. Evidently, this is an environment that “ecologically conspires against children.” As predicted by Bronfenbrenner’s ecological theory (1990), each context level of children’s lives, including household and classroom situations, messages from peers, and general culture, influence their learning process. Similarly, as stated, poverty has a significant impact on academic achievement. For example, research on children from low-income families has demonstrated that these students score below average in academic achievement tests, particularly in Reading and Math (Papalia, Wendkos & Duskin, 2005).

Quiñones (2006) also argued that we must return to the basic principle of existence, in which individuals face their realities and consciences, in order to regain their dormant or repressed natural talents. All students should embrace their cognitive curiosity; in other words, the enjoyment of independently exploring and building their world. This is true of societies in general, especially those in desperate need of self-management and empowerment (Estremera, 2006).

As counselors or educators, implementing strategies and theoretical foundations in the process of listening, reinterpreting, and teaching represents a challenge. If this process is conducted from a liberating perspective that is focused on holistic community development, then students may overcome situations such as poverty, school desertion, drug addiction, crime, homelessness, unemployment, or, simply, that sense of lack of purpose in life (Estremera, 2006).

According to Fals Borda (1961), communities working towards self-management must establish well-defined principles that support them or allow them to handle a wide range of internal and external problems during the process of self-determination. The author also suggested five principles of self-management: social catalysis, autonomy, priorities, accomplishments, and encouragement. These principles are similar to those for individual self-management, which include a person’s self-image, self-worth, autonomy, and self-esteem.

Nowadays, Puerto Rico struggles with social and public health issues such as family violence, poverty, consumerism, aging population, women in the workforce, alcohol, drugs, AIDS, and crime. All of these situations require professional family intervention (Estremera, 2006; Roldán, 2005; Reyes, 2005). We educators are no exception, and we have the privilege of being the first to identify children’s and parents’ needsas a result of these situations and through early education. Thus, we can join forces and create bonds with the community and the family to prevent and not allow poverty, violence, and crime to interfere with children’s learning and academic success.

Values

The last barrier, values, is related to culture. Values are formed within the family, yet every family develops a different value system. This might hinder the creation of reciprocal relationships among the school, families, and the community. Since value systems are different, the educator must establish a type of contract with rules to follow during the school year or period of time in which they will work with the child. These rules can be drawn up with parents, though they must always be in accordance with the educational program’s goals and vision, as well as with developmentally appropriate practices.

Activity…
Plan a Christmas party. You already know that some children in your classroom come from a different religious background and, therefore, do not celebrate this holiday. What can you do to include everybody in the activity?

Teachers, parents, and community members must treat each with respect and tolerance. Furthermore, they should keep the child’s well-being as their priority.
16

A study conducted by López and Alvarado (2006) demonstrated that all its participants considered that Latin American families encourage important values. Puerto Rican families also treasure similar values or, in other words, those same Latin American values can be applied to our culture. The top 11 family values are familial devotion, affection, personalism, empathy, respect, native language, responsibility, commitment, education, cultural traditions, and the wisdom of ancestors. Taking into consideration these values when working with families and communities helps teachers achieve reciprocal relationships with both sectors.

Self-Assessment

Situation
Yes
No
I respect the cultural differences of each family.
Every day I communicate to parents their children’s problems or conflicts.
I make parents feel good by emphasizing on some of the positive and interesting situations that their child was involved in during the day.
I am an expert on child development.
I communicate respectfully with parents.
I invite members of the community to participate in school activities.
I help parents understand when they are interrupting the educational process.
I am an active member in the community.
I listen to the parents’ requests and focus on my educational plan.
I encourage parents to take equal part in the decisions that concern the child’s holistic development.
I request information regarding the children’s development to their parents and incorporate it as part of their assessment.
In order to improve my students’ educational experience, I ask the community for financial assistance.
I hold meetings with parents during the day, while children are in naptime.
Parents may visit my classroom at any time.
Parents are in charge in my classroom.

References

  • Benokraitis V, Nijole. (2005). Marriage and families: changes, choices, and Constraints (5th ed.). Pearson Prentice Hall.
  • Bredekamp, S. S. & Copple, C. (1997). Developmentally appropriate practice in early childhood programs. Washington, DC: NAEYC.
  • Bronfenbrenner, U. (1990). Discovering what families do. In rebuilding the nest: A new commitment to the american familiy. Recuperado de http://www.montana.edu/www4h/process.html.
  • Colón, L. (2006). Pobreza en Puerto Rico. Radiografía del proyecto americano (4ta. ed.). San Juan, P.R.: Editorial Luna Nueva.
  • Copple, C. & Bredekamp, S. S. (2006). Basics of developmentally appropriate practice. Washington, DC: NAEYC.
  • Comunidad. (2006). Recuperado de http://www.greenfacts.com
  • Davis, D. (2000). Supporting parent, familiy and community involvement n your school. Portland, OR: Northwest Regional Educational Laboratory. Recuperado de http://www.nwrel.org/csrdp/index.html
  • DeBord, K. (2001). Redefining parent involvement: parents making a difference in their children´s lives. Recuperado de http://www.cyfernet.org/training/parenthandout.html
  • Educational Broadcasting Corporation. (2004). Making family and community connections. Recuperado de http://www.thirteen.org/edonline/concept2class/familycommunity/index.html
  • Epstein, J. (2004). Parental involvement checklist. Retrieved from http://www.projectappleseed.org
  • Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico. Ley número 149, Ley Orgánica para el Departamento de Educación Pública de Puerto Rico (15 de julio de 1999). Estado Libre Asociado de Puerto Rico. Departamento de Educación.
  • Estremera, R. (2006). Formación humana el desarrollo comunitario: autogestión y empoderamiento comunitario. Ponencia oral y escrita a presentarse en el VII Encuentro Internacional de Educación y Pensamiento.
  • Ciudadanía y Comunidad a realizarse en Ponce, Puerto Rico, el 10 de marzo de 2006.
  • Fals Borda, O. (1961). Campesinos de los Andes. Santa Fé de Bogotá: Punta de Lanza.
  • Gillepsie, L. & Britt, D. (2006). Building collaborative relationships with families: A strategy for preventing child abuse and neglect. Conference presented at the Annual Conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Atlanta, GA.
  • Keyser, J. (2006). From parents to partners. St. Paul, MN: Redleaf Press.
  • Klein, D.M. & White, J.M. (1996). Family theories: An introduction. London: Publicaciones SAGE.
  • López, A. & Alvarado, C. (2006). Is your program Latino family friendly? Guidelines from the Latino Family Values Framework. Conference presented at the Annual Conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Atlanta, GA.
  • Maxwell, J. (1993). Desarrolle el líder que está en usted (19ª ed.). Nashville: Nelson.
  • Maxwell, J. (2003). Liderazgo 101. Lo que todo líder necesita saber. Nashville: Nelson.
  • Maxwell, J. (2004). Capacitación 101: lo que todo líder necesita saber. Nashville: Nelson.
  • Morales, M.A. (2005). La fuerza creadora en la consejería: los consejeros y la renovación de la vida pública en Puerto Rico. Discursos para la sesión plenaria en la XXVII Convención Anual, Asociación Puertorriqueña de
  • Consejería Profesional, viernes, 30 de septiembre de 2005. Hotel Ritz Carlton, Isla Verde, Puerto Rico.
  • NAEYC. (2002, March). Fostering language and literacy in classrooms and homes. Young Children, 10–24.
  • Olson, M. & Hyson, M. (2005, May). NAEYC explores parental perspectives on early childhood education. Young Children, 66–68.
  • Papalia, D., Wendkos Olds, S. y Duskin Feldman, R (2005). Desarrollo humano (9na. Ed.). México: McGraw Hill Interamericana.
  • Perdomo, M. (2005). Enfoque culturalmente apropiado para involucrar a los padres en el proceso de la lectoescritura en niños pequeños. Conference presented at the Annual Conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Washington, DC.
  • Quiñones, M.N. (2006). La pedagogía liberadora desde una perspectiva histórico cultural. Ponencia oral y escrita a presentarse en el VII Encuentro Internacional y XVII Nacional de Educación y Pensamiento a realizarse en Ponce, Puerto Rico, el 9 de marzo de 2006.
  • Reyes, Y. (2005, 12 de noviembre). Espejo de la violencia que vive la isla. El Nuevo Día, Portada, p. 6.
  • Rockwell, R. E., Andre, L. C. & Hawley, M. K. (1996). Parents and teachers as partners. Forth Worth: Harcourt Brace College Publishers.
  • Roldán, C. (2005). Drama en el corazón de la isla: Alarma por altísima incidencia de conducta suicida en adolescentes de Orocovis. El Nuevo Día, pág. 4–6.
  • Southwest Educational Development Laboratory. (2000). La participación de la familia y la comunidad. Recuperado de http://www.SEDL.org Special practices and programs. (1996). Recuperado de http://www.ed.gov/pubs/reachfam/spp.html
  • Stinnett, N. (1979). In search of strong families. Pp. 23–30 in N. Stinnett, B. Chesser & J. DeFrain (eds.), Building family strengths. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.
  • Treviño, B. E. (2003). Home connections: Early literacy framework prent activities. Conference presented at the Annual Conference of the National Association for the Education of Young Children, Chicago, IL.
  • Universidad de Puerto Rico. Recinto de Río Piedras. Facultad de Educación (2003). Institutional Report for the National Council for the Accreditation of Teacher Education (NCATE). San Juan, PR.

Links

National Association for The Education of Young Children

Zero to Three

Thirteen, WNET New York (PBS)

Teaching Deiverse Learners

Virtual Pre–K

Other resources:

Video: Península de Cantera: 10 años de Proyecto Universidad de Puerto Rico, Servicio de Extensión Agrícola

Appendix 1

Leadership Styles

There are several different styles of leadership. In order to lead and be a successful leader, knowing how, when, and how much of each style is needed for each particular situation is essential. These choices depend on the person.

Most leaders have a particular style, but have developed the ability to use different combinations to satisfy the group’s needs. Good leaders use their head—they evaluate the situation, the task, and the people, and they behave in a manner that allows for the achievement of the group’s objectives.

There are three main types of leaders: the autocratic, the democratic, and the laissez-faire. The leader will select from these three types based on the purpose of the meeting, which could be to:

  • Offer information—The leader shares the information with all the members.
  • Obtain information—The group members provide information for the leader.
  • Consider the decisions—The leader and all the members share their individual ideas.
  • Make decisions—The members provide information for the leader, who reacts to the different ideas.
  • Problem solving—The channels of communication are open, and all group members can share information among themselves.

Successful leaders should:

  • Be willing to work.
  • Be concerned about others.
  • Recognize the need to have and help to establish certain important goals.
  • Maintain a disciplined environment, but keep it flexible and open.
  • Ask questions that encourage maximum group participation.
  • Maintain the perspective of the group members.
  • Be available for the group and fully understand their problems.
  • Know how to listen.
  • Help to eliminate tension in the group.
  • Efficiently end discussions.

Basic Characteristics of Leaders

There are many characteristics that define leaders. In general, leaders should possess most of these qualities in order to practice true leadership. Some of the basic qualities are:

  • Visionary — Leaders are characterized by their long-term vision, doing things ahead of time, anticipating problems, and detecting opportunities long before others.
  • Person of Action — Leaders not only focus on the urgent objectives, but also work tirelessly and persistently to achieve them, which in the end is the key to their success.
  • Courage — Leaders are not afraid of difficulties. The goals they set are difficult, though not impossible. They have to jump many hurdles and convince many people, but they do not get discouraged. They are so convinced of the importance of these goals that they will fight for them and overcome any obstacles in their way.
  • Contagious Enthusiasm — Leaders are persuasive. They know how to present arguments that will gain the support of the organization.
  • Great Negotiator — Fighting for their objectives will force them to negotiate constantly.
  • Commanding Skills — Leaders should base their leadership on the art of persuasion, but they must also be capable of exerting their authority whenever necessary.
  • High Expectations — Leaders must not only have high expectations for themselves, but also for those who work with them. Striving to attain difficult goals requires a level of excellence in the workplace that is only possible by having high expectations.
  • Charisma — If a leader is a charismatic person, in addition to the previous characteristics, they are a well-rounded leader. Charisma is the natural ability to attract and captivate people.
  • Honesty — High ethical values are essential to maintain leadership.
  • Reliable — Leaders must be people of their word; they fulfill their promises.
  • Consistent — Leaders must practice what they preach.

You could be a leader if…

You are…
Probably good at…
Energetic
Adventurous
Self-demanding
Daring
Determined
Confident
Competitive
Suggesting new ideas
Achieving results
Making decisions
Solving problems
Taking charge
Enthusiastic
Extroverted
Passionate
Sociable
Generous
Convincing
Credible
Motivating
Entertaining
Encouraging enthusiasm
Interacting with others
Helping
Systematic
Diplomatic
Conscientious
Conventional
Analytic
Sensitive
Precise
Following instructions
Working on specific tasks
Using diplomacy
Thinking critically
Patient
Loyal
Stable
Part of the group
Calm
Level-headed
Passive
Being patient and understanding
Being loyal
Listening
Working with few new challenges
Concentrating

Exercise

  • Identify the obstacles that can arise when a voluntary leader program is initiated in a school.
  • What resources are available in the community for voluntary leaders?
  • What important topics should be mentioned in a voluntary leader orientation session?
  • What services are necessary for the voluntary leaders’ program?

Appendix 2

Resource Bank for Parents (Volunteer program)

We would like to give you the opportunity to participate and collaborate in the different activities in the center. We will present a list of skills or areas of interest you can sign up for, according to your availability. You may also include any that we have not previously considered.

Child’s name: ______________________

Classroom: ___________________________

Volunteer’s name: _____________________

Dates and times available: ________________

Phone number:  _________________________

Tasks you can do (mark all that apply)

  • Photography
  • Organize events
  • Coordinate services (resources for your classroom)
  • Promotion, public relations
  • Resources for workshops (adults)
  • Resources for workshops (children)
  • Contact parents in emergency situations (telephone)
  • Computer work
  • Manage proposals
  • Prepare bulletins
  • Make video recordings
  • Audiovisual equipment
  • Operating sound equipment
  • Printing

  • Calligraphy
  • Recruit volunteers for activities
  • Music, musical instruments
  • Woodworking
  • Carpentry
  • Gardening
  • Cleanup (before and after the activity)
  • Painting
  • Decoration
  • Drawing, Design
  • Hand crafts
  • Sewing
  • Cooking
  • Buying
  • Excursions
  • Other

We will contact you to include you in our work plans.

The Teachers

Appendix 3

Training for Parents (Needs questionnaire)

We at the Preschool Development Center are conscious of the needs parents may have in the child-rearing process. The following topics will provide the help you need in this process.

Select five (5) areas that match your needs or interests. Use the numbers 1 through 5 to indicate the order of priority (“1” represents the greatest priority).

_____ Discipline vs. Abuse.

_____ Abuse in the home—Are you at risk?

_____ Adequate nutrition for my preschooler.

_____ Speech development—Communication problems.

_____ Extracurricular activities for my child—Appropriate recreation.

_____ Preventing sexual abuse in children.

_____ What should I do with my child in an emergency?

_____ Developing creativity in young children.

_____ Tantrums and rudeness—What should I do?

_____ Family budget.

_____ Violence on TV—How can I control it?

_____ Other:  _____________________________________

Name of parent: _____________________________

Name of child: ______________________________________

Appendix 4

Address Book
(Community resources organized according to their services)

A
Resources Phone numbers
APENET 787–782–1163
Aeroparque 787–253–1515
Agua La Montaña (Héctor Rosado) 787–640–5487
Almacenes Colón 787–724–1189
Etc.

H–1
Resources Phone numbers
Helados “El Coquí” 787–274–0993
Hospital Auxilio Mutuo 787-758–2000
Inflables (Don José) 787-759–1255
Intercom (Roberto Torres) 787–748–1843
Etc.

P
Resources Phone numbers
Payaso Risita 787–640–1255
Patóloga del Habla (Amarilys Bachiller) 787–633–0781
Payaso Juglar 787–790–9948
Psicóloga (Dra. Hipólita García) 787-756–5779
Etc.

Remember: This information will be located in a notebook, and the pages will be divided alphabetically. The information will appear in alphabetical order to facilitate the search. Business cards can be included instead of writing the information.

Appendix 5

Model Letter

University of Puerto Rico
Río Piedras Campus
College of Education
Preschool Development Center

Dear Parents:

In the next unit, we will be studying “Me, my home, my family, and my house.” In this unit, the children will learn the following concepts:

  • I am special and unique.
  • Personal facts (what distinguishes us from others).
  • Every family member is important and special.
  • There are different types of families (family composition).
  • Activities in which a family can participate.

Also:

  • There are different types of houses in different geographical areas.
  • Modern houses are different from those in the past.

At home

You can reinforce what is taught in the classroom with several different activities. Here are some suggestions:

  • Have your child draw pictures of the family.
  • Create family albums with drawings.
  • Sit down with your child to go through a family album and point out family members according to their relationship to your child (for example: uncle, aunt, grandpa, grandma, godfather, godmother, cousin, brother, and sister).
  • Plan a family activity with other members of the family (have a picnic, go for a walk, have dinner, etc.).
  • Write letters to close relatives (such as grandparents) and make sure the child gets a response.
  • Take a walk with your child around the community and talk about the different types of houses you see, pointing out their colors and sizes.
  • Read the story of the “Three Little Pigs” and have your child participate in the experience.
  • Build houses with different materials.
  • When driving in the car, talk with your child about the different types of houses that you see along the way.
  • Refer to the monthly calendar for the weekly topics.

Enjoy the time you spend with your child!

The Teachers
The Green Classroom

Model letter

University of Puerto Rico
Río Piedras Campus
College of Education
Preschool Development Center

Dear Parents:

In the next unit, we will be studying the community. The children will learn about all the different buildings, occupations, means of transportation, and methods of communication in the community.

Children will learn about the following concepts that are related to the community:

  • Different types of buildings and their purpose.
  • Community service occupations.
  • Occupations that are related to health, sports, transportation, communication, construction, and production.
  • Means of transportation and their purpose.
  • Different methods of communication.
  • Safety precautions (at home, on outings, around vehicles, and in play areas).
  • People that help us feel safe.

At home

You can do certain activities that can help reinforce what your child is learning in the classroom:

  • Reinforce the concept of buildings and point out buildings of interest located in the community, such as the police station, firehouse, hospital, and shopping center. You can also discuss who works there and allow your child to participate in the conversation as you explain the type of work each person does.
  • It is important that your child know the home phone number for safety reasons. Help your child memorize this number.
  • You can reinforce the concept of means of transportation by discussing the various types, shapes, and colors of the vehicles you see along the way. Your child can help you clean your vehicle as well. Children enjoy taking part in adult activities, which in turn helps them develop a sense of responsibility and self-esteem.
  • You can emphasize safety rules by explaining to your child what they should do in case of a house fire and plan some drills at home with the family (always remain calm to avoid creating unnecessary fears).
  • Encourage your child to write and dictate letters to their siblings, grandparents, and other members of the family. You can also allow your child to open the mailbox and get the mail.
  • Look at magazines with your child. Discuss the equipment and material used in different occupations. The following are some questions that can stimulate your child’s thinking: Who uses a fire truck to do their job? What kind of job requires a cash register?
  • Take your child to see your workplace.
  • During your daily routine, share safety advice with your child. For example, you can discuss wearing a seatbelt, dealing with strangers, and crossing the street.

Enjoy the time with your child as you reinforce concepts related to the community.

The Teachers
The Green Classroom

University of Puerto Rico
Río Piedras Campus
College of Education
Preschool Development Center

Family Project: Green Clasroom

Activity:
Something about me-my personal facts
Specific Objective: With the help of their parents, the child will work on preparing a pictorial report about themselves using different materials based on their creativity.
Materials: A folder in whatever color the child wants. Pictures of your child in different activities and cutouts of children in different activities that your child enjoys. Markers, scissors, crayons, glue, or any other material that will stimulate creativity.
Plan: Gather the photos or cutouts that your child will use. Talk to your child about the photos and the characteristics that make them unique.

Tell your child that they are a VERY SPECIAL person and that all of their friends are interested in knowing “something about them.”

The report should provide basic information about your child, such as their name, age, neighborhood, favorite food, and favorite activities. Pictures or cutouts should accompany each item.

You are now ready to begin your family project. Use whatever material you believe will be useful for making your presentation creative.

Turn in on or before  __________________________

Good luck!

The Teachers

University of Puerto Rico
Río Piedras Campus
College of Education
Preschool Development Center

Family Project: Green Classroom

Activity:

This is my house Specific Objective: The child will define themselves as a member of their family (the people who live and interact under the same roof) and describe where they live. Concept: Family composition and parts of the house. Materials: A drawing of the outside of a house, pictures of family members who live with your child, pictures of each room in the house, markers, crayons, glue, scissors, and any other material useful for developing your child’s creativity.

Plan:
On a poster board, place the drawing of the outside of the house and work around it. Before you begin, explain to your child that all houses are different. Discuss why even animals need a place to live and why every person should have a home. Point out differences between the homes that your child encounters (colors, sizes, etc.). Emphasize the importance of having a place to live. Then, talk about the family members living in your child’s home as you look at pictures of each person and encourage your child to remember happy experiences they have had with them.

After having this conversation, begin working on the project. You should both decorate the house (on the outside) however you like, and then work on the interior. You can use pictures or draw parts of the house. The idea is that your child can show their classmates what the family’s house is like.

Turn in on or before __________________________

Good luck on your work!

The Teachers


Fatal error: Uncaught exception 'Exception' with message 'ZenCache: failed to write cache file for: `/en/modules/module-8-community/`; possible permissions issue (or race condition), please check your cache directory: `/home2/alcanza/public_html/wp-content/cache/zencache/cache`.' in /home2/alcanza/public_html/wp-content/advanced-cache.php:1050 Stack trace: #0 [internal function]: zencache\advanced_cache->output_buffer_callback_handler('<!DOCTYPE html>...', 9) #1 /home2/alcanza/public_html/wp-includes/functions.php(2935): ob_end_flush() #2 [internal function]: wp_ob_end_flush_all('') #3 /home2/alcanza/public_html/wp-includes/plugin.php(470): call_user_func_array('wp_ob_end_flush...', Array) #4 /home2/alcanza/public_html/wp-includes/load.php(573): do_action('shutdown') #5 [internal function]: shutdown_action_hook() #6 {main} thrown in /home2/alcanza/public_html/wp-content/advanced-cache.php on line 1050