Wynnum Family Day Care and Education Service shares insights on family engagement
The Sector > Practice > Family Day Care > Wynnum Family Day Care and Education Service shares insights on family engagement

Wynnum Family Day Care and Education Service shares insights on family engagement

by Freya Lucas

September 19, 2022

Wynnum Family Day Care & Education Service, located in Brisbane, Queensland is a not-for-profit, home-based service providing early childhood education and care (ECEC) for children from birth to 12 years. 


The service was recently the subject of a case study compiled by the Australian Education Research Organisation (AERO) as part of a series of practice guides. An extract of the case study appears below. To access the case study in its original format, please see here


Family day care (FDC) educators at Wynnum use a number of strategies to engage with families and build and sustain collaborative partnerships with families to support children’s learning and development. Three of the core strategies are outlined in this piece.


Recognising and supporting family engagement in learning at home


“As a service, we make regular visits to places within our local community,” a Wynnum representative began. 


“One of our regular outings is to the community library. The library is a wonderful resource for promoting family literacy, engagement in fun, interactive experiences, and a foundation for a love for books and lifelong learning. Regular discussions with families have led us to some interesting findings; for example, we discovered that not all families were aware that libraries are a free service to supplement access to books at home.”


This prompted the team to reflect on the use of community facilities at our service.


“This reflection has prompted discussions with children and families about what they value the most about our outings. Our educators and families recognise that adding library visits to the weekly program provides children with an opportunity to be involved in their local community, as we share this communal space and interact with a diverse group of community members.”


During library visits children listen to audiobooks and experiment with other forms of media, such as computers. They often participate in story and music sessions run by the library, which  allows children to listen to a story read by a less familiar adult, other parents, grandparents and even other children. 


“We have also begun to promote the library to our families as a place to seek information, access reference books and borrow storybooks for children that can assist with explaining difficult topics to children, such as tragedy or grief,” the representative continued.


Supporting two-way, positive communication and providing light touch updates about learning and development


“We believe in open and honest communication, and that even the small moments are worth sharing. Recently, we have observed that our younger children (aged 12–18 months) began showing how strong they are in their physical development and how eager they are to leave the table during mealtimes. Over the past couple of weeks, they have learned to push themselves away from the table, signaling that they have finished eating and are ready to engage in other experiences.”


This observation, the representative said, prompted educators to have conversations with families around routines and transitions, and how these are managed at home. 


“We shared our views on children as independent learners, and how we can foster independence. We also spoke about children’s verbal and non-verbal communication, and the way children can express their needs. We see a great value in non-verbal cues and trialed these during mealtimes; for example, role modelling ‘more please’ and ‘finish’ using both words and actions.” 


These strategies were discussed with families along with exploring simple signs and language the educators, families and children could practice together. Repetitive phrases and actions that could be paired with a signal were also discussed. 


“We continue to share our knowledge and experiences with families, and, in turn, they share their views with us, maintaining a high level of trust.”


Promoting a literacy-rich environment at home


Storytelling and books are a great passion within Wynnum. 


“We have a large selection of adults’ books for families to access, and children’s books at children’s reach on lower shelves. We engage in spontaneous storytelling anytime when the children are keen,” the representative explained. 


“To maintain and encourage children’s interest in stories and lifelong reading, we have started our own book club. Each child decorates their own book club bag and can borrow a book from us to take home to share with their families. When they return the book, the children are prompted to retell the story among the group or tell us about their favourite parts. At other times, a child may simply prefer to choose another book to take home, and that’s okay, too. Our book club experiences take place at any time, especially when a child is returning their borrowed book and is excited to share it with the other children.”


Photo collages of children reading are displayed adjacent to the bookshelf, which promotes more regular time spent looking through the books – and at their photos.


Families share their images of children reading at home, or wherever the story is being enjoyed. Shared reading builds a stronger connection between home and the service, resulting in lots of positive feedback from children and families, such as: 


 ‘We love the book club initiative. It is so generous of you to loan us your books and gives the kids a lovely incentive to read more at home. It also teaches a real-world concept of the library with a personal touch from you.’


Pictures and props from favourite stories are available for the children to prompt their imagination and recall, and books which have shared cultural connections to the children in the service are also to hand. 


“This authenticity allows us to talk to children about diverse backgrounds, customs, traditions and festivals as they use the pictures to enquire,” the representative said. 


“We often incorporate personal details of children’s lives, their family members, pets and friends, places they have visited and topics they’re interested in, while reading a story, enhancing child’s engagement and personal connection with the story.”


“We have decided to build on our very successful book club program and create a community street library. This new community library is located within a hutch painted by the children at entry to our building. We are encouraging locals to stop by and select a book from the collection and donate a book in return. This is another way of reinforcing the joy that stories bring and encouraging children and families to read together.”


Tips for success


“These ideas can be easily applied at your service,” the Wynnum educator said. 


“Create an ‘information exchange’ area where educators, families and the service can post community activities and experiences, services, and resources, share/swap books and other resources, exchange ideas, recipes, parenting tips. Provide library bags or similar (these might be decorated by the children) to encourage using shared spaces.”


“Celebrate families’ special skills, knowledge, and expertise in parenting, learning and development. Let them know that they are valued, appreciated and that they are part of your community.”


Reflective questions that may prompt educators’ thinking include: how do you share updates about a child’s learning and development with families? And how do you support a literacy rich environment at home and in your service for each child? 


Review family engagement for early learning in full here

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