Let’s build a bridge with parents

Chief Schools Inspector Michael Wilshaw has often spoken freely with an “I blame the parents,” perspective which is frequently published by commentators in the media criticising modern parents as distracted and self-centred, often putting their own needs before those of their children quoting remarks such as “lax parenting” and “wider failings within families”.

This type of media stance can lead to myths and misconceptions which are distorted and harmful. In my work with chatta, along with a number of early years advisory teams across the UK, I have worked with hundreds of children, parents and practitioners in a focused, structured and way supporting children’s progress in essential early spoken language. So many successes have come from this yet still, I often explain my work to people who don’t work in the education sector and too many times to mention I have to patiently and forcefully counter viewpoints such as “Yes, its the parents. On benefits and work-shy. They are too selfish to even notice their children.”

chatta supports and respects parents and carers. We understand that parents are doing the very best they can for their children, often in very difficult circumstances. In terms of education, parents need to be partners. They need to be valued, included and listened to.

There are many stresses of present-day living that can get in the way and economic pressures of modern life have taken a toll on the lives of many families. Many parents find it increasingly hard to spend quality time with their children because of the pressures of work, for example. Life might be conducted at a frantic bustle leaving parents with few opportunities to chat with their children or read them a story. Those pressures can be multiplied for families living with precarious, low wage jobs or unemployment. The impact of poverty is real, growing and can’t be ignored.

To reach our goal of high quality spoken language outcomes for all children, chatta has been designed to provide training and support to all early years practitioners, and to build the strongest possible relationships with parents and carers. We provide resources and have developed a new way of sharing activities and ideas,songs and stories with parents/carers. At a recent chatta workshop for parents and carers at a school in Hull it was encouraging to see how valuable people are finding chatta. “I was expecting another lecture telling me my children are eating the wrong foods and that I’ll be fined for this and that” said one father, “I agree with what you are doing. This is what I want to do with my children.”

It is not hard to see that frequent criticism and blaming causes more harm than good. Valuing, supporting, recognising, embracing and engaging with all those involved with influencing our children’s future has to be the answer and this is what chatta does. After 3 years working and listening extensively in early years settings we focus our time and support where it makes the most impact. Practitioners and Parents. This is why chatta matters.