Being trusted with the livelihood of such little people is quite a responsibility--even an honor. Sending kids off to school gets easier with each passing year; but for preschool families, this process can be gut-wrenching, to say the least. Getting parents involved in preschool is a great way to ease fears and build healthy relationships with your families. Parents are handing over their hearts to you each day at drop-off, so maintaining a close connection is important.
Getting parents involved in preschool throughout the day, even from afar, does wonders to contribute to meaningful and lasting relationships with your families and beyond. After all, there’s no better marketing tool than satisfied customers. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) uses family engagement as a litmus test for quality programming. Becoming an NAEYC-accredited program involves meeting a set of standards, many of which touch on the theme of family engagement. Here are a few key ideas from their recommendations.
Programs that exhibit high levels of cultural competency build stronger ties with families, which leads to deeper understandings of a child’s development. Each student’s performance in the classroom is just a piece of the puzzle of the whole child. Staff that are sensitive to different cultures and languages build a stronger relationship with families. Teachers should take time to build an understanding of the different cultures and customs present in the families they serve. Encourage participation in community cultural events, and invite storytellers, musicians, and artists to visit your classrooms.
Invite parent participation.
Some families have the flexibility to participate in classroom events, but some don’t, and they shouldn’t feel ashamed that they can’t get off work for a 10 AM classroom holiday celebration.
Holding a few annual school-wide events is a great way to get your families together and show off the community you’re building or the progress of your students. Host events at a few different days/times throughout the year, planning for at least a few weeknight or weekend events, so that working families can attend.
Keep families informed.
From daily verbal check-ins to monthly newsletters, we guarantee that your parents want to hear from you as much as possible about the progress of their children. Hold parent teacher conferences at least twice a year for formal reports, but also communicate on a daily basis. Use brightwheel, an easy-to-use mobile software app that will help you stay in touch with families. Your staff will use brightwheel for recording and tracking daily events and activities in the classroom, and parents get real-time updates delivered to their mobile device throughout the day. This is a great way to keep your families looped in and engaged with daily activities.
Build a strong school-to-home connection.
We all know learning doesn’t stop the minute a student is signed out at the end of the day. In these early years when a child’s development is so exponential, take the time to engage families in building a bridge between school and home. Provide opportunities for families to build off of daily work and progress by recommending home learning activities. Make your families truly feel like valued team members working with you towards your common goal of educating their young child.