As a child care administrator, you not only have to keep your kiddos happy, but their families as well. After all, word of mouth is one of the top ways parents find a childcare facility. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) did some research and came up with a list of guiding principles to successful family engagement. They looked at some outstanding childcare facilities around the country and how they build relationships with families. Why not take a page from their book?
Make your families feel welcome with an open door policy
Sure, it can be disruptive sometimes, but your families should have the right to drop in and visit anytime they’d like. Encourage parents to come and visit for lunch with their child, or to read a book at circle time. If you have the physical space, consider having some dedicated space where families can hang out and connect, or a transition zone, where families can hang out before or after drop off and pickup.
Invite frequent family participation
But unless you’re running a co-op, don’t pressure for involvement either. 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 10am 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.
One great way to invite parent participation from the very beginning of the school year is to host a new family orientation. For easy planning, check out our free tool, New Family Orientation Checklist for Childcare Centers and Preschools!
Streamline your processes
From application and intake to daily check-in and billing--let’s face it, the load of paperwork can be overwhelming. Brightwheel is an all-in-one platform designed specifically to make everyone’s life easier. From a digital check-in system (no more clipboards!) to paperless billing, this tool will change the way you do business. It also gives your families a real-time feed of their student's day, including photos, notes, reminders, reports, and updates.
Develop strong channels of communication
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 conferences as requested or as necessary, but also communicate on a daily basis. Use brightwheel to share anecdotal bits as much as possible--if a student finally managed to put his jacket on by himself, share the news right away!