Are you looking to increase engagement among your parents? Do you want to connect better with your families and build stronger relationships? As a childcare provider, you most likely answered both of those questions with an emphatic “yes!” Increasing parent engagement is essential to running a successful childcare center or preschool. Engaging the parents and guardians of the children at your center can have many benefits as well. Strong engagement and communication can improve parent and guardian satisfaction. In addition, happier families are more likely to promote your center and help with word-of-mouth marketing.
We asked some early childhood education experts their favorite tips for increasing engagement among families. Here are their tips and recommendations:
1. Think Beyond Compliance.
Christina Fecio, educational consultant, shares, “Much like the desired outcome of student engagement is more than just learning a specific skill or earning a specific test score, the desired outcome of family engagement is more than just participating or compliance. We want families to be optimistic, inspired, and passionate so they make a genuine emotional commitment.” Christina provides more detail about parent engagement in a Kangarootime webinar, 4 Keys to Authentic Parent Engagement.
2. Communicate with Parents Where They’re At.
ChildcareCRM CEO, Matt Amoia says “Our 2020 Building Blocks for Success report found that 60% of today’s parents prefer texting over email or phone when communicating with businesses. To increase your open and response rates at your own center, find out your enrolled parents’ preferred channel of communication. In particular, focus on the families who have not been engaging as much as others enrolled in your program. Once you understand which approach your parents prefer–whether email, SMS text message, or phone calls–use that method with them as often as possible to ensure they always receive your messages.”
3. Communicate Often.
Director of Education at Kangarootime, Lindsay Leusch, pulls from her previous experience at an enterprise regional childcare center explaining, “When communication is frequent and expectations are clear, relationships have the opportunity to thrive. This is critical at all levels of care because there is nothing scarier (and more frustrating) for a parent than a ‘surprise.’ While time can be limited, try setting aside a small window of time at drop off and pick up to say ‘hello’ and check-in with families so communication can be used proactively. A communication tool, like Kangarootime, is also helpful—parents and guardians can use Kangarootime’s smartphone app to check in on their child’s day and send messages to staff members at the center.”
4. Create Opportunities for Parents to Connect with One Another and Build Relationships.
Shira Leibowitz, CEO at Discovery Village in Tarrytown, NY, explains the many forums she has created to engage parents:
- Parents and teachers engage in informal conversation on our very own Discovery Village Slack account. Personal introductions have helped us to get to know one another. Families reach out with general questions about things to do with young children and organize informal meet-ups on the weekends at local parks.
- We also meet once a month in the evening on Zoom to discuss topics recommended by parents. Recent topics have included how to talk so kids will listen; social-emotional learning for young children; and preparing delicious, nutritious kid-friendly meals. Parents vote on slack for topics of greatest interest to them.
- Each month we have a way for our Discovery Village community to give back to the community. We’ve had food drives, clothing drives, and book drives. Currently, we are collecting recyclables that we will use in earth-friendly crafts and projects within our very own classrooms.
5. Host Parents-Only Events.
Daycare center owner and childcare consultant, Dani Christine recommends, “hosting annual events for adults only that parents can look forward to is a great way to increase parent engagement. For instance, we host a celebration every year for the adults in our students’ lives: our teachers, administrators, parents, and their family and friends. We sell tickets to pay for the event and donate some funds to a good cause or initiative. It gives parents a night off, something fun to do, and a reason to dress up!”
Kangarootime is the leading all-in-one childcare management software for daycares and preschools. With billing and invoicing capabilities, parent communication and staff management tools and classroom automation, Kangarootime helps childcare centers grow and scale. To learn more about optimizing your center with Kangarootime, visit kangarootime.com.