Across the early learning ecosystem, we rely on relationships for learning every day—between teacher and children, teachers and families, and across program teams. Communication challenges arise for two central reasons. The first is rooted in circumstances that make up the early learning landscape. People are functioning together who come from a range of racial and cultural backgrounds, education levels, and professional experiences—all factors that can lead to challenges in communication. Roles and hierarchies can create a top-down flow of ideas, leading to inequitable interpersonal dynamics and barriers to effective communication. 

The second reason, supported by research, is rooted in human nature and our conscious or unconscious biases that influence our language when talking to and about others (Blitch, 2017). Teachers may position themselves as experts on children’s learning and development, while neglecting to acknowledge parents’ unique wisdom and perspectives on their children’s learning. For parents—particularly those who have faced racism and discrimination—this can lead them to feel undervalued. 

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