When you’re building relationships with people, communication is key. This is especially true when you’re a childcare provider and need to keep parents up-to-date on important happenings at your center. Good communication delivered in a convenient manner makes it easier to talk to parents when you have concerns about their children. Open lines of communication also enable you to more effectively work with staff to provide the best possible childcare. In short, open communication allows for better collaboration among all stakeholders. Here are five essentials for improving communication so staff and families can support one another in bringing out the best in their children.
1. Check in Frequently
Touch base with parents frequently to see if they have any concerns and encourage them to provide feedback to help you and your staff understand what their needs are. Checking in periodically invites parents to engage with you and gives them the opportunity to talk about problems they may be having with their children early on, before the issues become more serious. Recognize that communication styles aren’t the same for everyone, so some families may not take the initiative to voice their concerns unless you reach out first.
2. Meet Parents Where They Are
Find out what parents’ preferred communication channels are. Again, this won’t be one-size-fits-all, so being flexible is crucial. For parents who prefer face-to-face meetings, set aside time for one-on-one conferences in-person. For parents who prefer digital dialogue, find a platform that allows you to post updates, send direct messages, and more. The idea is to make communication as convenient as possible so parents feel that they can approach you in the way that makes them most comfortable. A hybrid of digital and face-to-face communication may also prove to be a good solution for everyone.
3. Practice Active Listening
Parents and staff are empowered when they feel listened to. Take their concerns seriously. If they come to you with an issue when you’re distracted by other tasks, find a time to talk to them when you don’t have anything else going on, or postpone what you’re doing if it isn’t urgent. Take the time to really listen to what parents and staff are saying to ensure you have a good understanding of what’s on their mind. That way, you can ask thoughtful questions if you need clarification. Keep a record of what was discussed if needed so important details aren’t overlooked, and follow up with parents later to ensure their question or concern has been resolved.
4. Look for Ways to Get Parents Involved
Remember that communication is rarely, if ever, black and white, meaning that reaching out to parents usually takes more than just sending printed notices home with their children. These can easily become lost among piles of junk mail or set aside and forgotten altogether.
In addition to offering multiple channels of communication, look for ways to get parents actively involved with your childcare center. Encourage them to volunteer their time, perhaps by forming a committee to plan a special event or offering their creativity to make classroom decor or design T-shirts that children can wear to promote your center.
Welcome families to partner with you to provide the best care possible. If a child exhibits behavior problems or suddenly stops making progress, discuss the issue with the parents to get a better understanding of possible causes.
Likewise, encourage families to collaborate with you to come up with potential solutions, and be as accommodating as possible in meeting their needs. Not only does this empower parents, it also helps your staff feel supported when dealing with problems that come up in the classroom.
5. Emphasize Open Communication
Promoting transparency between families and staff builds trust and makes it easier for them to share their feelings and concerns. Be sure to address issues in a timely manner so your team doesn’t get the impression that things are being swept under the rug. Let parents get to know you on a personal level — your hobbies, interests, and if appropriate, some of the challenges you face in the classroom (provided you can do this without undermining your credibility). Admitting your own vulnerability can make it easier for your team to relate to you.
Fostering constructive communication among team members will optimize their ability to fulfill their roles, promote an atmosphere of honesty and respect, and create an environment in which children can thrive. Whether you’re looking to engage your families or relay important information, there are plenty of digital tools to help you improve parent-teacher relationships and teacher-teacher relationships. Create a free Go2s account today and see for yourself!