Involving Parents to Improve Your Child Care Program
Involving Parents is one of the Most Effective Ways to Improve your Child Care Program
Do you want to create a community atmosphere in your center or family child care program? Have you wondered about how to get parents more involved in their child’s learning? The following information will provide you with many ideas on how to do just that.
Invite families to participate in decision making and goal setting for their child. Invite families to actively take part in making decisions concerning their children’s education. Have the teachers and families jointly set goals for children’s education and learning both at home and at school.
- Some of these goals could be based on the Wisconsin Model Early Learning Standards (WMELS), which specify developmental expectations for children from birth through entrance to first grade.
- If you don’t know where to start, look over the National Center of Parent, Family, and Community Engagement article: The Family Partnership Process: Engaging and Goal-Setting with Families.
Involve families in two-way communication. Allow for both center and family initiated communication that is timely and continuous. Your communication should take multiple forms and reflects each family’s language preference. Examples include, but aren’t limited to:
- Sending a weekly or biweekly newsletter to parents
- Greeting parents personally as they drop off or pick up (if possible)
- Contacting parents by phone – a positive phone call means a lot
- Creating a family bulletin board
- Sending artwork home with children
- Sending notes home with children or emailing parents
- Take pictures and have an electronic photo album accessible to parents – be sure to ask for their permission first!
Engage families in ways that are truly reciprocal. Centers and families both benefit from shared resources and information. How can you do that?
- Create a family-friendly environment! Simple additions like extra coat hooks and chairs, a message board, or a special area for family members to settle in and play with or read to a child offer obvious signs of welcome. Let parents know that their presence is expected and appreciated by showing them where books, craft items and toys are stored so they can participate spontaneously.
- Invite family members directly into the classroom to share hobbies, cultural traditions, special recipes, family pets, etc. This is not only a wonderful opportunity for the young child to see and take pride in her own family, and a terrific learning experience for the other children in your care, but it also shows families that their unique stories are appreciated and valued in the classroom.
- Create volunteer and social opportunities for families who have inflexible work hours: after-work pot-lucks, craft preparation (which might include cutting or assembling), gardening, painting, fundraising, etc. Be creative and flexible. Don’t assume that a parent who is always in a hurry or barely makes it in on time for pickup is not interested in your program. Offer him a chance to help or socialize outside of business hours.
- Make a collage using the traced and cut-out hands of family members. Help the children label the hands and then join them together, creating a beautiful visual tribute to the families in your care/classroom.
Provide learning activities for the home. Teachers create learning activities for the children to do at home to encourage and support families’ efforts to create a learning environment beyond the program.
- Create “Buddy Bags” or “Literacy Bags” for the children to take home and work on with their parents. Find some great ideas for these at pre-kpages.com.
- Pinterest has many pages full of ideas that you could use to create literacy bags as well.
Plan trainings on topics that parents may be interested in:
- Home and or paper organization
- Yoga with kids
- Healthy eating
- Positive discipline – 1,2,3 Magic, Love and Logic, etc.
- Train parents to use the Ages & Stages Questionnaire, a developmental and social-emotional screening tool.
Invite families to participate in program-level decisions. Ask for parent volunteers to head up activities and provide ongoing and meaningful input about programming.
Plan events for families:
- Plan a picnic
- Organize “Olympic Games” night – Obstacle courses, bean bag tosses, etc.
- Hold an ice cream social
Use some of these suggestions to give children the opportunity to see that the adults in their life want to work together.
At the end of the day, the most overwhelming key to a child’s success is the positive involvement of parents. ~Jane D. Hull