Here’s the scenario: your school is closed for Professional Development Day and it looks like a handful of families missed the memo. Now, instead of kicking off with training, you are dealing with frazzled parents because they didn’t plan for the day, and so you’re now behind on your planned agenda. This is very frustrating especially since you’ve had a notice put up about being closed for a month now.
Teachers and child care administrators send out reminders and notices for a number of reasons:
- Fee payment
- Field trips
- Needing additional supplies
- Events happening at the school
- Professional development days
- Closure for maintenance
These reminders even come in different forms: a note in the child’s binder or on the sign-in sheet, a notice put up on the bulletin board, handed out as flyers, sent out as an email, texted, you name it – the list goes on.
Let’s pause for a moment to acknowledge that staying top of mind to the busy parent is not the easiest thing to do. Between running to work, managing their schedules and keeping track of everything that’s going on with their child(ren), things can definitely fall through the cracks.
If you are in a position where there’s always a handful of families that just didn’t get the memo after repeated reminders, read on. Here are some strategies that you can use to ensure that parents read your reminders.
1. Consider the Design
If you are using flyers or pinning up notices on your bulletin boards, it is worth considering how they are designed. Are you just printing some words on a plain sheet of paper and sticking it up, or did you put some thought into whether it attracts attention?
Another thing to think about is how your bulletin board looks as a whole. Is it packed full of reminders stuck onto each other? Are they all relevant? Is the information organized? For each notice you post on your board, the harder it will be for each one to stand out.
However you do it, a board that is free of administrative clutter and contains up to date information makes a huge difference in how parents (and teachers!) consume the information. In this case, less is definitely more.
2. Use Your Relationships
Childcare is all about relationships and that’s a good thing to leverage when trying to get a message across! Instead of just putting up or sending out a written reminder, make it verbal.
A quick and simple, “I wanted to remind you that we’re closed on Friday for PD” can make all the difference and get things on the radar.Try to also identify if there is a different person in charge of drop off for that particular day. If it is a guardian instead of a parent that is dropping the kiddo off, a word with them could be helpful.
The more that people know about what’s going on, the more likely that your message will get across.
Take some time to send out a weekly or bi-weekly newsletter to parents. This is a good way to ensure that there is a centralized place for parents to reference when looking for information on what’s going on at the center.
Newsletters are also great for center-wide updates and to help build a sense of community. Other than highlighting things like closures or trips, you can also use it as a place to showcase and celebrate your teachers’ hard work.
4. Social Media Announcements
If you have social media accounts for your center, you can use them as a digital bulletin board to keep parents in the loop.
For Facebook, you can pin important messages to the top of your feed so that things don’t get missed by parents. If the announcement is something like a school closure, you could even make it a Facebook event and invite parents to it.
The only thing with social media is that not 100% of your parents will be active on there. But, remember that everyone consumes information differently so if you missed them in person at pick-up or drop-off, this is still a good way to get on their radar.
5. Use a Calendar
This might seem like a no-brainer but keeping an updated calendar is a good way to stay on top of everything. You can do this by sending home a monthly Parent Calendar that highlights everything that is happening at the center.
Consolidate schedules for things like topping up on supplies so that you’re not waiting until you are empty before reminding parents. With a consistent routine and schedule, parents know what to expect and you will minimize the stress of chasing individual people for different things.
This calendar can take the form of a physical one that is handed out monthly, or even a Google Calendar that is managed on a class by class basis. The benefit of this is that most parents live by their calendars and you can make the center a priority this way!
6. Remind the Kiddos
We mentioned leveraging your relationships with parents earlier in this post. Now, don’t forget the kiddos!
Your students are a huge asset for notifying parents on what’s happening at the center – let them play a part in reminding their parents and make them feel important for it. If there is a field trip happening next week, really make it an event. Kids being excited about what’s happening at the center will automatically carry the message over to parents.
Alternatively, you can get creative with how you send out notices. For example, get crafty by printing the notices on paper bracelets and send those home with the kids to pass to their parents.
7. Use an App
A childcare app is another great way to bring multiple parent communication elements together. For example, adding a note on the daily sheet means that parents will be reminded in real time to pick up supplies and can add that to their routine on the way home.
An app like HiMama also has a built-in message centers where you can send out standalone reminders for things like school closures, events and field trips. You can even do it in a calendar format.
The great thing about an app is that you have multiple touchpoints to remind parents. So, if you have a parent that prefers email, they will get the message through the message center that syncs to their Inbox. If you have a parent that only looks at the digital daily sheets, there is a note there. And if you have someone that is a repeat offender and always forgets, you can send them a message that is tailored just for them.
Whatever you choose to use, the key thing with parent communication is to not rely on one single method. Keeping connected is partly related to understanding how your families operate and what works best to get their attention.
How do you make sure that parents read your notices? Leave a comment below if you have a creative way to getting the message across!
Fill out the form below to learn more about how HiMama can help you with parent communication!
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- What to Expect as a Pre-K Parent Volunteer
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