More than Mozart, Little Einsteins, and Sesame Street, communicating effectively with parents has a positive impact on early childhood success. When you and a child’s Mom or Dad are on the same page, that child will continue learning at home what you taught at childcare. Mom and Dad trust that you have the best interests of their child at heart. And you have greater insight into each child.
Finding ways to keep the lines of communication open and effective is the topic of this post. Here you will learn about ways to build communications and trust between you and parents while setting the stage for childcare success.
Everyone is so busy that there is little time to discuss issues with parents at drop-off and pickup. Miscommunication occurs, and the relationship can become wobbly. It takes effort to maintain openness and to encourage it in others, so both the teacher and the parents need to concentrate on creating the best learning environment.
EZChildTrack childcare management software is the perfect conduit for engaging with parents and potential clients.
The Benefits of Effective Communication
Today’s generation of parents wants to be involved in their children's education. If the childcare provider makes little attempt at including them, parents can feel locked out of an essential part of their children's lives. Many childcare businesses flourish because they have a reputation for welcoming parents as partners rather than adversaries.
Children are masters at playing one adult off another. If you and a child’s parents speak regularly and you have made yourself available to hear concerns, there is less chance of miscommunication due to a little one’s desire to have his or her own way.
Another benefit of effective communication is letting parents keep track of what their child is learning. This way, lessons can be reinforced at home. If the same lessons are emphasized in both settings, the depth of learning increases. The child retains more, and cognitive development flourishes.
In turn, reinforcement of lessons at home makes the child a better student, so that childcare and preschool are fun rather than difficult.
How to Communicate Effectively with Parents
Opening and maintaining the lines of communication between you and parents is a multi-step process. You begin by establishing a baseline for the child. Where is each child starting academically and in life skills? How will what you teach impact the child at home? Here are some tips for communicating effectively:
- Set expectations early. When the school year or period of care begins, let parents know you want to be able to reach out to them and they to you. Ask them the best way to get in touch with them for various reasons, and let them know how they can set up times to speak with you.
- Build trust. Establish the credentials and experience you and your staff bring to childcare, so parents can have confidence in your skills and your ability to care for their child. Trust is also built by being discrete. Don't gossip in the teacher’s lounge or with other parents.
- Be transparent about daily activities and operations. Consider what parents might ask and develop answers so you can provide immediate feedback. Better yet, approach them before they approach you.
- Create partnerships. Again, parents want to be a valuable part of their children's lives. Show them that you aren't in competition with them for their child's affection. Instead, bring them in on your plans, so you create a united front.
Developing a rapport with any parent is a skill you can learn and cultivate. While you may feel more confident relating to a small child, remember that the parents are part of that child’s background and formed personality.
Find areas of commonality around which you can build a dialogue about each child and his or her needs.
Set the Stage for Childcare Success
Make communication a priority when planning your childcare business operations and curriculum. Deliberately carve out time each day to speak with parents or let them know what their kids did today at school.
Always, always, always be honest with parents about their children’s performance. Honesty doesn’t need to be painful or blunt. Find ways to talk about issues without inviting defensiveness. If you have built trust, set expectations, and remained open to new ideas, parents will work with you and not against you.
In years past, communication was often through a written form filled out by the staff. It told parents what mood the child was in today, how much that child ate, and which activity seemed to be most popular.
Now you have access to many more lines of communication with parents. You can tell talk about things the whole class did and provide insight into each child’s day separately and privately. Using electronic communication, you can provide more information than can be written on a form or discussed at pickup time.
Effective communication results in a more inclusive environment where everyone feels part of the team. Offer methods to collaborate with parents to help the child learn. By learning more about the family and the child’s background, you can extend your own experience of the world, share cultures with the class, and build understanding.
When parents are engaged, their kids are engaged, which leads to better behavior, health, and cognition.
How Software Can Help
EZChildTrack childcare software provides multiple methods of keeping the lines of communication open between you, the children’s parents, and your staff. Here's some tips for using the software to its full potential:
- Use the parent portal for secure communication with each parent via email.
- If the parent prefers text communications, the centralized database has all the information to make that happen.
- Use the solution to create one-on-one conversations or to make announcements to parents of the entire class simultaneously.
- Post images, video, and text to the parent portal so parents can see exactly what their children are doing.
- Invite parents to comment or offer suggestions for other things to do on the parent portal.
Leverage software to develop a place where you and your clients can meet for discussions or simply to answer questions - from both sides. Encourage parents to open up with their concerns and ideas, and let them know you will always respond to them promptly.