Holding family conferences with each infant’s and toddler’s family is part of a high-quality early care and learning program. Conferences offer the opportunity to sit down with families and talk about ways to continue caring for their infant or toddler. Conferences also help form the foundation of the communication system that gets established early on between a caregiver and family.
Family conferences offer an additional opportunity to come together with a family and share information, observations and questions. Together, you can highlight strengths and consider ongoing ways to support the unique development of their infant or toddler. A family conference for an infant or toddler with special learning needs may also include additional individuals, such as service providers.
As you consider scheduling a family conference, keep in mind what you already know about the family and your ongoing relationship building with them. What positive interactions have you had already with this family? What do you know about them already that will support a positive experience? In addition:
- Consider the goals of this family conference (e.g. share observations and developmental information)
- Communicate with families in their preferred style and schedule the conference at a time most convenient for them
- Ask families who they would like to include in the conference
- Talk with families about what your time together will look like. Explain the goal of the conference and that the focus will be on their infant or toddler. Ask families what would be helpful to them – do they have specific goals for the conference, things they would like to discuss, questions.
- Consider possible language barriers and arrange for a translator to help interpret if necessary
Keep in mind that what we share with families is just as important as what we do not share. For example, reading and looking at books with infants and toddlers is an important activity that helps foster a love of reading later in life, offers the opportunity to enhance relationships, supports language and literacy, etc. Think about how often you share with families that you read with their infant or toddler each day?
You can also structure your family conference time to help cover the topics and goals the family is most interested in. For example, a Family Conference Form can be created and utilized to keep notes from the meeting and include the following:
- Child’s name, date, caregiver’s name, family members attending, etc.
- Child’s strengths in areas of development
- Social and Emotional Development
- Language Development and Literacy
- Approaches Toward Learning
- Cognition and General Knowledge
- Physical Well-Being and Motor Development
- Possible goals and areas of development to support
- Action steps to support the goals/Plan for the infant’s or toddler’s development and learning
You, as a caregiver, along with families can invest in family conferences as a way to help build engagement and enhance relationships.