A central component of the mesosystem is communication—the forms and nature of communication between the various components of the microsystem. And this is particularly true of family-early care and education linkages. The key to family-centered program collaboration is communication. But effective communication is not easy. It requires two-way communication that enables families to learn from the knowledge and expertise of program staff, and for program staff to learn from their families (Keyser, 2006). This two-way communication can be developed by using traditional approaches—daily check-ins, child information forms, home visits, parent conferences, parent meetings, newsletters, phone calls, e-mails, bulletin boards, journals that go home with parents, and anecdotal notes about children’s behavior and progress. Some programs now use websites to inform their parents and the community about various aspects of the program.
Several challenges to two-way communication are addressed throughout the book. Shared power and decision making, language barriers, and cultural conflicts are among the barriers addressed. According to Hall (1976, 1983), people from different macrosystems (cultures, ethnicities) tend to communicate differently. Clearly, when there is a cultural mismatch between a family and teacher, director, or caregiver, confusion can occur (see Think About It: Two-Way Communication).
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