How can you help improve the communication style at your childcare center?
The parents who choose your center as the right fit for their growing families are often enrolling their children before they can even form complete sentences. No doubt about it, your parent/staff communication style is woven into the fabric of your business success. A tremendous amount of trust is needed for a parent to leave their child at your school, especially when they are so young. Your school may be where the child and parent have been separated the most since birth. Keep that in mind when you’re communicating with each and every parent. You are taking care of a precious gift to them and you want them to feel at ease when they walk out the door.
Check out these 20 tips for developing positive relationships with parents at your child care center:
1. Smile When You See Parents
Greet them. Make sure that at least 90 percent of your encounters with them are positive, warm, and friendly.
2. Learn Their Names
Learn how they like to be addressed (Mr. ____? Señora? By their first name?) and how to pronounce them correctly.
3. Declare Your Intention
Tell them that you want to partner with them, that you appreciate their support, and look forward to working together.
4. Communicate Often and in Various Forms
Provide information about what’s going on in your class (weekly would be ideal): what students are learning, what they’ve accomplished, what you’re excited about, what they’re excited about, and the learning and growth you’re seeing.
5. Make a Positive Phone Call Home
Call all homes within the first couple of weeks and then at regular intervals throughout the year. If you have many children, identify those who perhaps need a positive call home.
6. Lead with the Good News
Give positive praise first when calling parents or meeting with them to discuss a concern. Every kid has something good about him/her. Find it. Share it. Then share your concern. Adhere strictly to this rule.
7. Find a Translator
If you can’t speak their language, seek a translator for at least one parent conference and/or phone call. Reach out to those parents as well; do whatever you can to connect.
8. Your Language is Powerful
It communicates an awareness that there are many different kinds of families. Be careful not to assume a mother is, or isn’t married, or even that if she is married, she’s married to a man. Learn to ask open-ended questions and understand that sometimes parents/guardians might not want to share some information.
9. Ask Questions about the Child
“What kinds of things does he enjoy doing outside of school? Who are the special people in her life — family or family friends? What do you think are her best characteristics? What was he like as a little boy?” Demonstrate an interest in knowing your student.
10. Listen to Parents
Really listen. They know a whole lot about their kid.
11. Smile at the Child
When talking to a parent in front of a child, smile and make eye contact with the student to demonstrate that you care about him/her. Recognize what he/she has done well at school in front of the parents. Then share a concern, if you have one.
12. Invite Parents to Share
Distribute a survey at the beginning of the year (if parents don’t read/write in English, students can interview them and relay their answers). Find out what parents know about and what skills they have. Invite them in especially if it connects the curriculum and content. Let them share with you their cultural traditions, interests, passions, skills, knowledge.
13. Let Parents Know How They Can Help
Share ideas of what they can ask their children at home or how they can volunteer at your school. Getting them involved with their child’s education will be beneficial to all involved.
14. Be Very Specific
Provide ways parents can support their child at home: “As you’re reading stories at night, ask your child to make predictions. This strengthens reading comprehension.”
15. Be a Broker of Resources
If they share a concern, be prepared to point them to a direction where they can find help. If you share a concern (“Your daughter spaces out and doesn’t pay attention”) be prepared to suggest what the parents can do.
16. Explain Your Instructional Decisions
Take the time to do this and help them learn about the education system if they’re not familiar with it. Help them understand what you’re doing and why.
17. Invite Parents to Participate in Making Some Decisions
Invite their input, give them information that will help them form an opinion, and listen to their conclusions.
18. Thank Parents
Both individually and publicly for their support, perhaps in your weekly newsletter. Recognize what they do to help your class and how it’s impacting students.
19. Share Every Success
Let parents know what their child is doing well, what academic skills, social skills or knowledge he’s mastered.
20. Invite Parents to Celebrate and Break Bread Together
Communities are strengthened when people come together in celebration. Start the year with a potluck. Share food and stories about food. We all bond over food.