ACECQA Newsletter Issue 5 2018

Father holding little boy while speaking to a female educator

Communicating effectively with families  

Communication with families is embedded throughout the National Quality Framework; it is integral to the guiding principles of the National Law, approved learning frameworks and National Quality Standard (NQS). Whether engaging with a family about their child’s learning and development progress, health issues, or your understanding of a child’s strengths, communication is central to everyday quality practice.

Effective communication benefits children, families and services. It promotes shared understanding and is an essential building block for the creation of respectful relationships, the development of trust, and the formation of collaborative partnerships – all critical components of quality practice. To maximise communication with families, an understanding of the communication process may assist you.

Effective communication with families involves much more than providing information to families. For example, when ‘Families are informed about the program and their child’s progress’ (Element 1.3.3), there are opportunities to develop collaborative partnerships with families (Quality Area 6) and then extend on this to consult with families about quality improvement (Quality Area 7), all of which places children and families at the core of joint decision-making. One way you may like to think about communication in your service is to consider the theory of transactional communication.

Transactional communication

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Graph explaining transactional communication

A ‘transactional’ model of communication can assist services to understand communication dynamics and to minimise barriers to effective communication. As illustrated in the figure (from the University of Minnesota, 2016), some key features include:

  • Good communicators are both senders and receivers of information. Families do not passively receive information. Similarly to a conversation, it is a dynamic two-way process. Communication also involves verbal and non-verbal communication (e.g. facial expressions, gestures and body language are part of the communication process).
  • Communication occurs within contexts that can enable and sometimes hinder communication. These contexts include: social, relational (e.g. history and type of relationship), cultural, physical (e.g. environmental factors) and psychological (e.g. stress).
  • Communication is not just about exchanging information, but is integral to relationships and engaging with others to create communities. Communication is integral to social interactions and relationships.

Context can have a significant impact on communication effectiveness. Things to think about include:

  • Relational: Previous experiences with services can impact a family’s current communication style and level of engagement. 
  • Social: Awareness of social norms can support communication effectiveness, such as how adults prefer to be addressed or how meetings are conducted.
  • Cultural: Communication should ideally be in the first language of families. 

Understanding that communication can take many forms, and using those forms as needed, can assist in the effectiveness of your communication. It is both verbal and non-verbal and utilises multiple ‘channels’, such as speech (e.g. impromptu face to face conversations, phone calls or more formal group meetings), visual (e.g. posters and images) and media (e.g. letters, newsletters, emails or social media).

Recognising that there is ‘no one size fits all approach’, educators and service leaders will generally use a range of suitable communication forms, channels and resources, and, most importantly, what families feel most comfortable with, use and trust. Holistic practice, built on authentic and respectful relationships with families and a valuing of diversity, will inform this process.

Further reading and resources

ACECQA – Information sheet – Building partnerships with families

Australian Government Department of Education, Employment and Workplace Relations – Connecting with families

Child Australia – Welcoming conversations with culturally and linguistically diverse families: An educator’s guide

Early Childhood Australia – Communicating with families about children’s learning

Keyser, J. (2006) From parents to partners: Building a family-centred early childhood program, Redleaf Press, St Paul, MN.

Kidsmatter – Effective communication between families and early childhood staff

MindMatters – Communicating with parents

University of Minnesota – Communication in the real world: An introduction to communication studies

Where the research takes us

Children playing outdoors with a water pump and trough

Almost 10 years on from the original agreement to introduce the National Quality Framework (NQF) to children’s education and care in Australia, the sector has seen substantial progress and quality outcomes for children.

But how can the NQF continue to help improve quality as well as the public knowledge and access to information about that very quality?

This month on We Hear You, ACECQA’s General Manager, Strategy, Communications and Consistency, Michael Petrie, discusses this question and where recent research needs to take us.

The Quest for Quality knowledge game extension packs

Layout of five Quest for Quality game extension pack cards

Are you looking for ways to engage educators, providers, students or families with the 2018 National Quality Standard (NQS)?

Building on our Quest for Quality knowledge game, the new extension packs explore concepts such as inclusion, environmental sustainability and the National 24-Hour Movement Guidelines, as well as family day care and outside school hours care. The game and extension packs have been designed as knowledge and capacity building tools, providing an opportunity to integrate an element of fun into understanding the NQS, professional discussions and critical reflection.

Visit the ACECQA website to purchase a set or download the free game, extension packs and instructions. 

Inclusion Expos/Forums

Three female educators sitting at table at an inclusion forum

Educators will have the opportunity to hear from ACECQA’s National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone, at Inclusion Expos/Forums from April to August throughout Queensland, Victoria, NSW and the ACT.

Delivered by Inclusion Support QLD, the NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency and the Victorian Inclusion Agency, in collaboration with ACECQA and the relevant regulatory authority, the expos will help you develop your understanding of quality inclusive environments while providing tips and strategies for promoting belonging and diversity. Also, every service attending a session will receive a copy of our new Inclusion extension pack for the Quest for Quality knowledge game, courtesy of each inclusion agency.

For more information and registration details:

Victorian Inclusion Agency – Inclusion Expos

NSW/ACT Inclusion Agency – NQS: Inclusion in Practice Forums

Inclusion Support QLD – NQS: Inclusion in Practice Forums

ACEL New Voice in Early Education and Care scholarship

Logo for 2018 ACEL-ACECQA New Voice scholarship

Are you an early childhood educational leader?

Many research studies have emphasised the importance of children’s successful transitions from early childhood services to school. In both sectors, teachers and educational leaders share this common goal so each child is ready for school and school is ready for each child.

In recognition of the value of working together, ACECQA has partnered with the Australian Council for Educational Leaders (ACEL) to offer the ‘New Voice’ in Early Education and Care scholarship. As a new addition to the ACEL scholarship program, the early education and care scholarship recognises emerging, forward-thinking educational leaders with teaching qualifications who are employed in an early childhood education and care service.

The scholarship recipients will receive a number of benefits over one year, including travel to and complimentary attendance at the ACEL National Conference, individual ACEL memberships, Resource Centre subscriptions, and the opportunity to work with local ACEL branches.

More information about the selection criteria and the features and benefits of the scholarship is available on the ACEL website.

Applications are open until 11 May 2018.

Annual fees are coming

Close-up of messy paint and paints pots in the sun

Annual fee invoices for the 2018-19 financial year will be issued by email by 1 June 2018. Use the National Quality Agenda IT System to check and update the contact email address that is recorded for your provider.

The fee is payable in full for all service approvals held by the provider regardless of any subsequent transfers, suspensions or closures.

Contact your regulatory authority if you have questions or for more information.

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