Making connections Family friendships
Marie and Susan’s story
Early childhood services provide
Marie and Susan met when their three-year-old
a great opportunity for families
sons began attending the same early childhood centre.
to connect with each other.
Through chats at pick-up and drop-off time and events held
Families who have positive
at the early childhood service, they developed a strong
relationships with other families
friendship. Their husbands became friendly too and the
generally have lower stress levels,
families often got together to celebrate special occasions.
better relationships with their
The boys are now four and have joined playgroup together,
children and are more willing to
they love playing at each other’s houses. This is a great
access support networks in their
chance for Marie and Susan to catch up and have a coffee.
community. Support networks
In fact, Marie had been chatting to Susan lately about
are groups of people that provide
making the coffee and play date a fortnightly afternoon and
emotional and practical help to
thought she would invite some of the other parents from
each other at good times and
the early childhood service to join them.
in times of need. For example, families within a social network may host social gatherings and celebrate special occasions together, or they may provide support at home when families are under stress. This support is
Early childhood services are often a place where families can make friendships which last a lifetime.
important for families; it is known to enhance their ability to manage the ups and downs of life and help them feel part of a community. Since many children attend early childhood services, they are an ideal place for families to meet, form friendships and become part of a support network.
Having a strong social support network benefits mental health and wellbeing.
Information for families Component 3 – Working with parents and carers
What early childhood services might also be doing Actively encouraging families to become involved in the service, for example inviting them into the service to give updates on what is happening, chatting to them informally and formally about their child, or inviting them to spend time in the centre with their child/ren. Discussing what type of
What parents and carers can do ff Become involved in the service; if you are available, engage in casual conversations with other families at drop-off and/or pick-up times. ff Access local clubs (e.g., sporting clubs, walking groups, social clubs), parent groups (e.g., possibly run through the local council) or cultural associations to get to know other families. The early childhood service may be able to provide you with information on these. ff Offer to be a buddy when new families join the service; ask how they’re going, whether there are any concerns or issues, you could even invite them to neighbourhood social functions such as local fundraisers or movie nights. Introducing families to other people in the community and expanding their social network will help them become part of the community.
social events are suitable for their families. Asking families’ permission to include them on a contact list and sending daily or weekly updates about what is happening at the service. Organising social activities that allow families a chance to meet and share their experiences and develop friendships.
Articles on a range of issues relevant to making connections with other families are available at: http://raisingchildren.net.au – see ‘Grown-Ups’ tab.
This resource and further information on