If you’re looking to increase enrollment at your childcare center, open houses provide an opportunity for parents and children to come and check out your space in a low-pressure setting. For parents choosing a daycare for their child, first impressions matter, so the feeling they get from your childcare center firsthand can make a big difference to their decision.
Potential parents value the opportunity to see all classrooms, outdoor play areas, bathrooms, kitchens, etc., and get a real feel for what their child’s day-to-day structure would be if they choose your center.
Planning your open house
The first thing to consider when planning your open house is the date and time you will host it. You want to ensure that as many parents are able to attend as possible. Therefore, it is important to avoid standard working hours and schedule your open house during the evening or weekend. For most parents, the evening can be hectic with closing out the workday, preparing dinner, and bedtime routines. Because of this, weekends are often the best time to host your open house event.
If your enrollment occurs on a seasonal basis, try to schedule your open house event a few months in advance of when you want parents to register. If your enrollment is consistently open, you can consider scheduling your open houses at a regular cadence (such as monthly or quarterly) and plan them in advance for interested parents to put in their calendars!
Activities to offer during your open house event
You want parents who attend your open houses to feel motivated and comfortable sending their children into care at your center. Therefore, you want to immerse them into your center’s culture and showcase as much as you can about your learning environments. Try offering the following activities:
- Tours: Tours are the most important element of an open house. They allow parents to get acquainted with the ins and outs of the center and how each space is utilized. Ensure that the director or educator providing the tour is knowledgeable, friendly, able to answer questions and personalize each tour based on the needs of the family they are speaking to. You want to make sure that the tour guide embodies your center’s goals and culture.
- Activities and crafts: Showcase your curriculum by having activities and crafts directly from your lesson plans ready for parents who bring children to try! Parents will love getting to see their children in action and participating in activities that would be a part of their daily routine at your center. If you need activity inspiration, check out HiMama Activities for hundreds of free ideas!
- Food samples: If you serve snacks or meals at your center, your open house is a perfect chance to showcase them! Have sample sizes available for adults and children to taste!
- Educator meet and greet: A child’s educators are often the make-it-or-break-it factor in their enjoyment of childcare. Having educators on-site at an open house for parents to get to know can make them feel very comfortable having their children in the environment and be a motivating factor for them to register!
- Information table: Ensure you have information readily available for parents who would like to take it home in hard copy. While some parents have likely combed your website in detail and have all the information they need, there are others that prefer to take it in person and have something tangible they can take home to their partner and the other caregivers in the child’s life so that they can make this informed decision together. Make sure to have printouts of your policies, fees, curriculum, menu, and parent handbook ready for the taking!
Preparing for your open house
On the days leading up to your open house event, make sure you put time aside to prepare. This includes:
- Schedule the cleaners to come the day before or of your event.
- Do a walkthrough of all classes and declutter. Ensure all learning materials are age-appropriate and safely stored.
- Ensure signage is in place and in good condition on the outside of the building, in the hallway, office, each classroom, etc.
- Assign roles to each staff member that will be assisting during the event. For example, some give tours, some be greeters out front, some lead activities and some chat and answer parent questions! Ensure each educator is comfortable with their assigned role and prepared for the event.
Promoting your open house
It is very important to promote any open houses you are offering so that your community members are aware and can plan to attend. Use this free printable template to promote your childcare center’s next open house! Print it out and hang it up at neighboring businesses in your community, as well as on your own doors!
As well, be sure to promote your open house electronically via emails to prospective parents, posts on your social media and in parent groups, on your website, and in your newsletters.
Do not forget to tell your current parents about your open house event as well! Word of mouth and referrals can often be the largest source of new business for childcare centers.
Open houses are an important opportunity to showcase your center to your community of prospective parents. Ensuring you are prepared and have promoted your event will be key to setting it up for success. Good luck, and be sure to let us know how it goes!