As a daycare owner, it’s important for you to encourage communication between parents and your staff members. This communication helps to create a positive relationship and ultimately increases engagement with the family. The bond that you create through communication also helps you provide the best service for the kids in your care, while also keeping the parents satisfied. Keeping the lines of communication open helps you appeal to your current families and appeal to new ones as well.
Establish Communication Early
To foster communication, start by creating a culture of open communication within your childcare service, beginning with your employees. Train your staff to communicate directly, respectfully, and professionally to one another and parents, so that everyone experiences the same welcoming feeling, no matter whom they interact with. When potential clients visit the daycare, greet them warmly.
A parent handbook is another way for you to get communication flowing early on. Highlight your policies, so parents know what to expect, and include a section on contacting the center to let parents know the best ways to get in touch with you or your staff. Building that parent relationship early naturally helps if issues arise in the future.
Use Various Channels
Instead of a one-size-fits-all approach to communicating, try to offer up multiple ways to stay in touch with what’s happening at your daycare.
For example, in-person communication works well for problems or concerns, because it’s easier to understand the emotions involved and to resolve the issue quickly.
On the other hand, print materials offer an easy reference for information the parents may need later. Try giving your clients advance warning for things like conferences by posting notices on a central bulletin board.
As a daycare owner, you may find that online communication reaches parents quickly and allows for fast responses. When sending emails, be sure to follow professional email etiquette to avoid causing additional problems. Also, verify that you have current email addresses for parents periodically.
By offering information in different formats, you make it easier for parents to get the details in a way that fits their preferences.
Some formats for presenting the information include:
- Daily child reports
- Weekly email newsletters
- Private Facebook groups only accessible to parents
- Bulletin boards with printed information
- Periodic conferences between providers and parents
- Informal chats during drop-off and pick-up
- Individual email messages regarding specific concerns
- Special events such as open houses
Any time you share information, make it easily accessible to parents.
Building trust with parents comes from consistent, professional interactions between you, your staff, and the families you serve. Remember, parents are often emotional about situations that involve their children. Instead of shying away from concerns in hopes of avoiding a confrontation, acknowledge the complaint immediately. In some cases, the parent may need some time to cool down before you can handle the situation, but acknowledging the situation can help the parent calm down.
Also, listen to any concerns with an open mind. You have a different perspective as the childcare provider than the parent does, but you need to consider the parent’s perspective to resolve the issue calmly and to the parent’s satisfaction. It’s easy to think ahead to your response while the person is talking. However, keeping your mind clear helps you truly understand what the parent is saying. Remember that parents do everything they can to protect their kids, so their concerns are coming from a good place.
Caring for kids is a huge responsibility. You essentially have two clients: the child and the parent. By practicing open, honest, respectful communication from the start, you can keep a positive relationship going between home and daycare.