As a preschool administrator or teacher, you not only have to keep your kiddos happy, but their families happy as well. After all, word of mouth is one of the top ways parents find a preschool. 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 preschools around the country and how they build relationships with families. Why not take a page from their book?
Make your families feel welcome all the time 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.
Streamline your processes.
From application and intake to daily check-in and billing–let’s face it, the load of preschool paperwork can be overwhelming. Brightwheel is an easy-to-use tool 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 students’ 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. Hold parent teacher conferences at least twice a year for formal reports, 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! Photos are a quick and easy way to distribute info on what’s happening in the classroom. We find that a quick photo or note during the day can really ease communication at drop off and pick up.