Caregiver Comments: Valuing families’ unique expertise about their children

Read Time: 5 minutes
Teaching Strategies
March 13, 2019

Is your school or center maximizing the power of COMMENTS in ReadyRosie Share to build positive and goal-oriented relationships with families? A growing number of our ReadyRosie partners are finding that the ability for caregivers to comment is having a significant program impact on family partnerships as well as teaching and learning.

According to the 2018 Head Start Parent, Family, and Community Engagement Framework: In family partnerships, program staff and families build ongoing, reciprocal, and respectful relationships. Program staff value families’ unique expertise about their children. Staff engage in regular communication with families to understand their goals for their children and themselves and work toward those goals together.

Through teaching and learning, families and staff work together to promote children’s learning, development, and school readiness. As children’s first and most important teachers, families are engaged as partners in their children’s learning and development. Families share their knowledge about their child. Teachers and home visitors share information about the child’s progress.

If your program desires to develop reciprocal, respectful relationships that build partnerships focused on children’s learning and development, NOW is the time to encourage families to begin clicking the “Comment” button!

Caregiver comments are an accessible way for you to affirm the core belief and implement the building blocks of successful family partnerships. Learn more about these in our “Partnering with Families Throughout the Year” workshop! Here are some examples:

  • Families have the opportunity to share successes linked to learning. Whether the child is able to count to a higher number than before or is showing new progress in regulating emotions, parents and caregivers appreciate the opportunity to celebrate progress with another person who also knows their child well. Drop off and pick up are often too busy and one-on-one conferences too infrequent to provide time to communicate these successes. The ReadyRosie comment section, however, allows the caregiver a space to reflect, share, and receive encouragement from a teacher or family support staff.
  • Families share their concerns and questions around their child’s development. As caregivers learn more about learning and observe their child’s responses to activities, new questions or concerns may arise. The comment section is a place where the caregiver can share an observation and the teacher can respond in a timely manner. More often than not, we see that teachers are using this space as a way to reassure caregivers that their child is developing in an age-appropriate way. For example, a teacher recently responded to a comment about a toddler’s messy playtime by first expressing empathy and then identifying how the child was learning about cause and effect.
  • Family insights and assets inform classroom instruction. Families use the comments to share all about what brings their child joy and delight whether it’s a favorite nursery rhyme, song, book topic, or game. They share about special talents shared at the Family Talent Show or the movie they enjoyed on Family Movie Night. These comments enable the teacher to better treasure each child as a unique student bringing a wealth of resources to the classroom. This is the epitome of meaningful data that should impact instruction!

At a recent webinar, we heard from one ReadyRosie teacher about the power of comments in her family engagement: “I use the family comments to guide me in my classroom data and assessments. I can see in the comments from the [Beginning of Year] that students would struggle with rhyming and now when I send rhyming videos the families are excited that their child now knows what rhyming words are and how they can even create some rhyming words of their own. Having the families see the progress and learning with us as teachers is very exciting! My students’ parents leave comments about their children wanting to practice all the time and hearing that makes me very happy.”

Need we say more? In the words of Pete, the Cat, “Goodness, no!” But maybe you’re asking HOW do you get your caregivers to begin commenting? Here are three simple steps we’ve collected from teachers who consistently have over 90% of their students’ families commenting on every custom playlist:

  1. Print out and share the invite/registration flyer located in Introducing Families to ReadyRosie. Circle the #4 under “How It Works.”
  2. Tell your caregivers you want to hear from them!
  3. Use your playlist report (available for custom playlists) to quickly see the comments that families have made regarding specific videos.
  4. Check out the envelope in the top right corner of your Share dashboard to reply to comments.

This encourages families to continue engaging!

At ReadyRosie, it is our mission to equip and inspire schools and families to work together to change the lives and trajectories of children. We believe that the power of a simple comment is a big step in achieving this mission.


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