By fostering a strong relationship between parents and center staff, everyone is able to be open about their feelings and ideas. When communication with parents is effective, early childhood educators can understand what is happening at a child’s home and how their families would like their behavior managed while in care. When staff make an effort to actively communicate with families in their preferred communication channel, they can explain to parents what has happened over the course of the child’s day and how they are progressing in their overall development.
In order to develop this type of relationship and improve communication with parents, consider the following:
1. Ensure families feel comfortable
Families and staff must feel comfortable with each other in order to initiate communication. Different families may have various ways of communicating, so you and your staff members must be flexible and adapt to varying styles. Whether a parent prefers face-to-face conversation, emails, notes, or phone calls, be prepared to use the parents’ ideal method.
2. Listen carefully
When a family member brings up an issue about what is going on in their child’s life at home, take time to actively listen. Parents want to be heard. Be patient and work to truly understand their point of view. If it’s not a good time for you to listen, schedule a time later so you can focus on what they have to say. Following up electronically is a good way to keep records of your conversation.
3. Take parent concerns seriously
After hearing a concern, reassure the family member that his/her concerns will not be taken lightly. If possible, explain how you will address any concerns. If your facility is unable to accommodate their requests, be compassionate and practice active listening. Explain that you wish you could accommodate them, but are unable to due to rules or regulations that apply to your childcare facility.
4. Find solutions together
If a problem arises, see if your staff and the family can work together to find a solution that works for everyone involved. Look for a compromise, asking parents for their input. Brainstorm several possible solutions, and evaluate the pros and cons of each solution together to make a decision or plan of action. No one enjoys conflict, and ideally keeping lines of communication open can reduce tension long term.
5. Check in regularly
Don’t forget to check in with parents every so often to see how things are going and how they feel about their child’s progress. Remember that your relationship and communication styles will change over time, so you may have to adjust your strategies to make your partnership work.
Keep in mind the above simple strategies to make communication with parents open and honest. Working to improve your communication with families will make your job easier, and help parents feel more comfortable with their choice in your childcare facility!
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