Collaborative partnerships

Building and sustaining collaborative partnerships with families and other professionals to best support children’s learning and development.

Collaboration with families

Families are a child's first teacher. This is recognised by the Victorian Early Years Learning and Development Framework (VEYLDF) Practice Principle Partnerships with Families (PDF, 1.6MB)(opens in a new window).

Families are critical to the growth, learning and development of children. They are also immensely important to a child’s sense of belonging.

Families should be involved with their child's experience of a kindergarten program. This is central to supporting the child to grow and develop.

To support strong and authentic partnerships with families, teachers and educators should:

  • accept the unique needs and circumstances of all families and children
  • partner with families to build shared knowledge of their children
  • build clear and shared expectations of how to include families in the educational program
  • share what they are observing and planning to support children's learning and development
  • ensure communication with families is honest and caring
  • identify and assess families' hopes for their children attending a kindergarten program.

Collaboration with families will look different in each kindergarten program. Assessing the local needs, requirements and resources will impact on collaboration with families.

Some practical ideas to support collaboration with families may include:

  • inviting families to share how they would like to be involved
  • starting off with a small initiative, for example, inviting families to spend more time at the kindergarten when their child first starts
  • asking families about how they would like to be involved in the kindergarten program
  • thinking about reasons why families may feel hesitant to participate in the kindergarten program, and making sure all families are able to be included.

Collaboration with other professionals

Collaborating with other professionals who work with children and their families is an important way to support children’s learning and development.

This is highlighted in the VEYLDF Practice Principle, Partnerships with Professionals (PDF, 1.3MB)(opens in a new window).

Jump to questions for reflective discussion

Teachers and educators should collaborate with other relevant services and agencies in their local communities. They should be aware of the types of services families seek support through, such as the local Maternal and Child Health Service or allied health professionals.

Teachers and educators who support a child’s learning and development can share their knowledge with other professionals. This may assist other professionals who support that child.

At a service level, effective leadership can enable the development of this collaboration.

This includes, for example, the allocation of time to connect up. Sustaining these relationships with other professionals requires teachers and educators to be pro-active in reaching out to colleagues.

Collaboration requires an ongoing commitment to working together. It requires being willing to get involved, and working to share a common vision and clear aims for children. This takes time and cannot be rushed.

There may be existing opportunities in local communities to connect with. The following examples are ideal to build these types of relationships:

  • local early years networks
  • transition networks
  • leadership forums
  • shared professional learning opportunities.

Teachers and educators working in Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs should develop processes to work with other professionals. They should share relevant information about a child’s learning with the child's family and other early childhood professionals.

Over time, services will see the benefits of collaborations for children, families and professionals. One such benefit may be improved continuity of learning for children in Three-Year-Old Kindergarten programs.

Continuity of learning is the continued progress of a child’s learning and development. This is important as a child transitions between learning environments. It includes attending a kindergarten for the first time. It is also when a child transitions from three to four-year-old kindergarten. It relies on strong and effective relationships. It includes sharing of information between early childhood professionals in services and schools. It also includes sharing information with other professionals who work with children. This supports children to experience smooth and successful transitions.

Connections to the VEYLDF

VEYLDF practice principles:

Teachers and educators should work to build collaborative relationships with others. This includes families, health services, family support services and primary school staff. Collaborative relationships take time, effort and persistence. Teachers and educators should respect the diversity of approaches, knowledge and expertise of others. Children learn best when the adults who work and live with them have close and professional relationships.

It is important to develop a culture of reflection when building these relationships. Finding opportunities to expand on successes or make changes to the way professionals work together will be very helpful.

As collaborations develop, teachers and educators will see improved outcomes for children in Three-Year-Old Kindergarten.

Questions for reflective discussion

To support collaborative partnerships, take some time to reflect on the following questions.

  • How does your team define collaboration?
  • What does collaboration look like at your service?
  • Who does your service collaborate with?
  • What actions can you take to enhance collaboration with other service providers?
  • Which services in the local community could you build a relationship with?
  • What expertise can your team share to benefit other service providers?

Having watched the video above, consider the following questions:

  • What opportunities are there for creating and growing a community of learners to enhance knowledge and practice?
  • What other early childhood services are available outside of your setting? How might these enhance outcomes for children and families?

Connection to the box of educational resources

A box of educational resources has been provided to all services funded to deliver Three-Year-Old Kindergarten from 2022. It includes resources that specifically focus on building collaborative relationships.

A number of resources included in the box are also freely available online and these links are listed below, while some others are only available in hard copy.

Resources available in the box

Making links parent partner – A guide for parents about what matters in early childhood services

This booklet highlights what really matters for children and their families in early childhood services. See, Page 16 ‘Partnerships’, which highlights the importance of relationship building with parents and some practical ideas for building these partnerships. Order a copy of the making links parent partner resource(opens in a new window).

Resources available online

Other resources