"Making the road as we go: Parents and professionals as partners managing diversity in early childhood education" discusses the experiences of the Parents and Diversity project, carried out in the Netherlands by the consultancy and training company Bureau MUTANT. The project, which ran between 2003 and 2005, focused on the two complementary subjects of 1) building partnerships between childcare providers and their children's parents and 2) childcare providers meeting the differing needs of the increasingly diverse population of parents and their children.
This report covers a lot of ground clearly and succinctly. In particular it enables the reader to better understand the challenges facing parents and staff in their efforts to provide good care and learning opportunities for young children in Dutch childcare centres. The discussion of the literature shows that this work is not an isolated development. The question of how to involve parents more and how to integrate the growing diversity of concerns and backgrounds in early childhood education and care is a major concern of many educators and the authorities that oversee them.
One of the distinguishing features of the Parents and Diversity project that is reported is its attempt to quantify parental participation and the awareness of diversity in terms of the four concepts of 'living together' (sharing information), 'working together', 'thinking together' and 'taking decisions together'. The tool developed by the researchers provides an innovative way of assessing types and degrees of parental participation. The report describes how practitioners (educators), policy makers and researchers need to be and can be encouraged to refine their ideas and the mechanisms for promoting parental participation and their sense of involvement in childcare.