A to Z’s of Early Childhood
The Science of Child Development and Learning
F is for Family-Professional Partnerships
Building Trusting Partnerships That Benefit Everyone
Families interact with doctors, teachers, and other professionals beginning from the time children are born. Strong family-professional partnerships are built when families and professionals use each other’s knowledge and resources to support children’s healthy growth and development. Research shows that when families and professionals work together as partners, everyone benefits.
Strategies for Building Family-Professional Partnerships
Here are six strategies with tips for building strong family-professional partnerships.
Strategy #1 - Establish effective and ongoing communication.
- Use communication methods that are convenient for and preferred by families.
- Ask questions and share updates on a regular basis.
- Share information and resources that are easy to understand and use.
Strategy #2 - Be respectful.
- Ask about each other’s values, beliefs, and goals.
- Offer ideas for achieving shared goals with each other.
- Let each other know their ideas and recommendations are helpful.
Strategy #3 - Focus on strengths.
- Discuss the family’s and the child’s strengths.
- Always discuss strengths first and then talk about how to build on them.
- Celebrate small successes often.
Strategy #4 - Set shared goals.
- Invite each other to share what they think is important for the child and family to know or be able to do.
- Talk with each other about why the goal is important and how everyone will know when the goal is met.
Strategy #5 - Share information and strategies.
- Talk about existing supports and resources.
- Discuss what information and strategies are needed to accomplish family and child goals.
- Check in regularly about whether the information and strategies are beneficial or whether new ones are needed.
Strategy #6 - Facilitate decision-making and goal-setting for family and child priorities.
- Support families as active decision-makers in the goals they set for themselves and their children.
- Share resources and information to help guide family decision making.
Establishing Effective Communication
Anyone in the family-professional partnership can use this helpful conversation starter.
What We Are Doing
The Anita Zucker Center and our collaborators are helping families and practitioners learn how to use strategies that will support strong family-professional partnerships.
- Center Members Collaborate with FSU and the Early Steps State Office on Professional Development
With the help of Early Steps, UF and FSU are collaborating on professional development at three centers in Florida.
- Embedded Practices and Interventions with Caregivers
This resource from the Institute of Education Sciences of the U.S. Department of Education provides parents and caregivers with a framework and coaching process to provide early learning opportunities for children with disabilities.
Home Activity Matrix (.pdf)
Use this tool to share information and plan ways to create opportunities for children to practice targeted skills during everyday routines and activities at home and in the community.
Matteo Goes to Preschool
Strong partnerships between practitioners and families support the 3R’s of Early Learning: Relationships, Repetition, Routines. This story shares how one practitioner supported a mother and her son Matteo through embedded instruction while in distance learning and then in-person inclusive preschool during the pandemic.
Dedicated to supporting the well-being of young children and their families, the Anita Zucker Center has engaged with its partners to launch an ambitious initiative designed to provide accessible and practical information about child development and learning to support parents, caregivers, professionals and policymakers.
The A to Z’s of Early Childhood is a trusted source that offers robust, quality and up-to-date information and resources informed by the science of early childhood development and learning – from short videos and quick tips to academic research and detailed policy briefs.