Communication with parents is not just in the best interest of the child. There are a number of reasons engaging in open and honest communication is important, but today I am going to focus on how it affects the business as a whole.
As I’ve said before I own my own preschool, but this applies to everyone working in the ECE profession. No matter if you work for yourself or someone else. You need the business to prosper so that you continue to have a job so that you continue to have a place you are proud to say you work for. You want this place to be the best so that you can say you work for the best. (And if this is not the case, YOU NEED TO GET OUT NOW and work where you truly can say this and mean it!)
When you effectively communicate with parents and you treat them as if they were your friend or someone you see as a friend whom you are trying to get to know. When you take the time to get to know them, their children and their family, they feel secure in who you are as not only a teacher but a person. This security and trust in you are going to lead them to feel they can recommend you, to anyone…everywhere!
I don’t know how many times I have a parent come in and tell me they recommended me to someone they met at the park, or at the gym. Whenever preschool comes up my parents love to recommend because they truly trust me, they believe in me, they see the work I have put into being the best teacher I can be for their children and for them. They show appreciation by spreading the word about my preschool.
Countless times I’ve had someone come in to meet me to check out the preschool, look around and ask questions but then they get there and they have no questions to ask because my parent that recommended them had already told them everything, in detail!
Do I connect with EVERY parent no, but I do put in the effort! I ask questions, I engage them in conversation. I check in with them when their children are ill and are absent from school. I make efforts so that they know I value them and appreciate them.
I had a parent a few years ago, her goodbye to me daily as she left with her child was, “ I appreciate you!” Those are powerful words! It felt good to hear that. I realized I needed to start saying this more, to everyone in my life. So, I jumped right in and let me tell you it has been a game-changer. I haven’t met one person yet who has done anything other than beam ear to ear when I tell them “ I appreciate you.” Go ahead give it a try!
There’s not a lot of time for face to face at pick ups and drop offs but try and chose a few different families every day to engage with during these times, share the love, don’t just focus on the same families all the time, make sure you are giving equal attention.
Use a website for communication, an app, text messaging, emails. Make sure you have as many ways possible to keep the lines of communication open. Yes, there need to be boundaries, but you can’t lock yourself up, you have committed to loving and teaching their child. Talk to them! Work through things together. You can make them aware that you have certain hours they can expect a reply, and just say outside of those hours you are focused on your family. They have kids, they get it! They are doing the same thing! BE HONEST! Honesty goes a long way.
Do yourself a favor, go out there and get to know these families you are working with every day. They are nice people! You are going to start to see all of the benefits that come with getting to know them!
Abby Lazarus, M.Ed.
Over 15 years in the ECE profession. Bachelors in Child Development. Masters in Early Childhood Studies. Current Doctoral student in Early Childhood Education.
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