Parents are trusting you with a precious family member who will be going through many milestones and changes that the parents won't see. They want to know that you are ready to take care of everything and able to help them relive some of those experiences.Technology helps. Today's parents can see images the same day they were created. They can watch a video. Email and text messaging keep them in constant touch with their chosen caregiver.
Here are some communication strategies to keep parents in the know about how their child progresses and, more generally, how your business operates. Communication equals reassurance - something parents need in abundance.
Listen and Take Parental Concerns Seriously
It can be easy to assume what parents want and to dismiss some of their worries, especially if you have heard the same thing before. Remember that this is still new to them. They haven’t seen multiple children move through their growth stages. They are concerned about their own child.
Keep in touch with parents. Find a way to check in daily, even if it's just a quick hello. If a problem presents itself, find the solution together. You bring expertise in childhood development, and the parents know their child. Both sides are needed to nurture a growing human.
Create a Handbook
Strictly speaking, you need two handbooks: one for parents and one for staff. The handbook contains all the information a parent needs to know about how you run your business.
Both contain much of the same information. A handbook contains your mission statement and business philosophy, setting the tone for your relationship with parents and children.
The handbook contains your child care facility’s days and times of operations, information about tuition, late fees, and the age range you accept for care. Be sure to add liability waivers and other legal forms to protect your business and the child.
Let parents know how you handle illness and absences. And don’t forget the contact information for the school and any relevant staff, teachers, or administrators.
Hold Regular Parent Meetings
You may not be able to schedule parent meetings frequently because everyone has a busy schedule. Make an effort to get on their calendar, especially if you have something important to discuss. Sometimes face to face discussions are more fruitful than texting or emailing back and forth.
By speaking directly with parents, you can ask and answer questions that come up and elaborate immediately if something isn't clear. Meetings allow you to get to know one another better and be a source of problem-solving and support.
Establish Preferred Communication Methods
It may seem like everyone has a smartphone and is available by text, but that isn't necessarily true. Also, text messages may not be the best way to communicate, depending on the information you need to convey.
A parent portal is a handy way to keep parents in the loop and offers them a way to fill out documentation and receive messages from your staff. Email also works very well for passing along news and discussion topics.
If the parents can receive them, text messages are an excellent method of emergency communication, like announcing a weather closure or requesting a sick child pickup.
Print It Out
There is still a place in the world for printed materials. Sometimes, parents need a physical note to help them keep track of special events or field trips. An urgent notification for the near future is another good candidate for print. Parents can put the note somewhere everyone will see it, rather than leave it as an electronic message.
Make sure to give the printed document directly to the parent or caregiver. Don’t count on the child to pass it along.
A daily or weekly report helps parents keep up with everything going on with their child. These reports can be printed or electronic, depending on how parents wish to receive them. A parent portal is an excellent tool for reporting on a child's progress and activities, including what that child ate each day, the number of diapers they went through, and how they are progressing compared to their peers and expected milestones.
Electronic reports can include photos and videos showing first steps or other accomplishments.
If there is a behavioral issue, you can mention it in the regular report and state how you expect to handle it.
Emergency Action Plans
It’s uncomfortable to think about, but natural disasters and other emergencies occur. Parents need to know how you will communicate with them in the event of a tornado, injury, or severe illness.
Outline various emergency situations and the steps you would take for each. Prominently display how you will notify parents in each case.
Templates for Parent Communication
Standardization in communication ensures nothing is left out of a report or letter to parents. Get together with your staff to design a template for various types of communications, so everyone passes on the right information at the right time.
For example, a daily report may have space for meals, naps, learning goals and accomplishments, and a notation about how the child behaved that day. You can print templates for teachers to fill out or design electronic ones to send via email or share on a parent portal.
EZChildTrack streamlines this process by providing a way for you to set up your templates within the childcare management system and make them available to those who need them.
The templates include forms for email blasts, incident reports, and automated messaging. Select and customize each template to fit your childcare business needs. Using a template not only standardizes the communication but makes it quicker to generate.
Maintaining open communication with parents is essential for a child’s progress and a parent’s peace of mind. It’s also a necessary component of a successful business. One of the most appreciated characteristics of a well-regarded childcare company is how open it is with parents.
Using EZChildTrack simplifies that process. If you want to know more, please contact us.