Parents are typically a child’s first educator, and most wish to continue playing a role in their children’s education once they begin school.
It’s well known that children whose parents play an active role in their education are more likely to be successful later in life. Additionally, being involved in their children’s education gives parents a sense of belonging in the childcare community. And the closer parents feel to their childcare community, the more likely they are to be satisfied with the care their child is receiving.
So, parent involvement in early childhood education is good for children, good for parents, and good for educators. A parent association enables that involvement and gives it structure.
What is a parent association?
A parent association is an organization run by the parents of children who attend a childcare center. The organization raises funds and arranges activities to enrich the lives of the children in and out of the classroom. All parents are welcome to join!
Parents volunteer their time to participate, joining or chairing meetings and committees, with tasks prioritized and assigned on an as-needed basis, most often decided by a simple vote.
Parents and guardians contribute their voice, energy, and ideas through active involvement. Being present at meetings and functions conveys a commitment to their children’s education.
Benefits of parent associations
Parent associations strengthen the community around your childcare center. They provide an opportunity for parents to get to know each other and better support educators and children. Some of the main benefits of parent associations are:
Advocacy: Building a group of caregivers into a unified association allows them to come together and advocate for the children, childcare center, and early childhood education as a whole. The best parents associations rally together to work towards changes they want to see!
TIP: Encourage your parent association to connect rather than complain. Be solution-oriented.
Appreciation: Parents are some of the only people who can come close to understanding how difficult working in early childhood education can be. A parent association can come together to provide recognition to childcare center staff in the form of appreciation events, gifts, kind words, etc.
Community: Bringing parents together through formal association binds them into a community. They are able to share their experiences, opinions, and stories with each other, lean on each other and advocate for change. When people share collective experiences together, they form a sense of community that will be felt throughout your center by all staff and children. It’s also much easier to get feedback from one, unified source, as opposed to every parent and caregiver jockeying for your attention!
Putting children first: Parent associations can brainstorm the best ways for their children to thrive and advocate for any necessary changes to the learning environment. They are also able to better share with educators the individual needs of their children and ensure that educators are able to get to know and care for their children on a deeper level.
Parent association roles
There are many roles in parent associations, and the groups themselves can operate in many different ways. Whatever the formal structure, it’s all about volunteers participating for the betterment of their children!
Here are some of the most common parent association roles and responsibilities:
Parent committee chair:
- Sets the agenda for and runs association meetings
- Finds parent volunteers to join the association
- Liaises with director, educators, and other staff members
- Coordinates special events
- Communicates on behalf of the Parent Association with the parent community at large
Parent committee treasurer:
- Takes charge of the Parent Association bank account and manages money from fundraising activities
- Oversees the annual budget
- Reimburses approved expenses
- Files tax claims and/or issues receipts as applicable
Fundraising/social events committee:
Oversees events such as…
- Silent auctions
- Book fairs
- Parent nights
- Teacher appreciation events
Additional volunteers are needed to assist with:
- Event set-up and clean-up
- Event coordination
- Event supervision
As a director, you can enhance the visibility of your parent association by creating a display in a prominent, high-traffic area of your center and on your website. This will allow parents to be motivated to join in and participate!