The goal of this document is to help child care center owners and directors understand the basics of parent communication. This is a beginner’s guide to parent and family communication for the child care industry.
Parent communication encompasses a wide variety of communication types sent to and from parents and the child care center staff. Various forms of communication include email, text messages, daily sheets, parent
newsletters, ﬁeld trip sign-up forms, phone calls, and more. The way child care center staff communicates with parents and children plays an important role in how they develop and maintain relationships with them. Good communication between child care center staff and parents can prevent misperceptions and false expectations, encourage cooperation, and create a team approach to caring for children.
Terms to Know
A self-contained program or piece of software designed to fulfill a particular purpose and downloaded by a user to a mobile device. SmartCare is available as an app to parents in the Apple App Store and the Google Play Store.
Daily sheets are a piece of paper distributed at the end of each day letting parents know about bottle fedings, meals, diaper changes, incidents, and more. These pieces of paper are either put in cubbies, children's backpacks, or are available for pickup by the parent in each classroom.
The timeline feature in SmartCare is where parents can see posts/updates from teachers and photos their child is tagged in organized by the date they were posted. These updates are available on the app and on the web portal.
As a child care center owner or director, building trust with parents is fundamental. Avoid discussing students with other parents or engaging in any negative discussions in the teachers’ lounge (this goes for teachers and volunteers as well). If a teacher or volunteer witnesses negative student behavior in class, ensure that the situation remains in the classroom and conﬁdential.
Daily sheets are used for children of all ages in child care and are sent home with parents at many centers. Daily sheets are a way for child care centers to let parents know about meals, diaper changes, naps, accomplishments, behavioral issues, and more. Many times teachers ﬁll these out at the end of the day and put them in cubbies for parents to review after sign-out. With SmartCare, parents no longer have to wait until the end of the day to receive updates. SmartCare sends out this information and more (including milestones) with the option to attach a photo so parents have peace of mind of knowing what their child is doing throughout the day.
Peace of Mind
Every parent has at least one day where they feel guilty when dropping their child off at child care. Maybe it’s because the child is crying when they leave or for a number of other reasons, but they go to work feeling uneasy. With SmartCare’s photo/journaling features, parents are able to see photos that their child is happy within minutes of dropping them off or get updates from teachers throughout the day that let them know that their child is engaged and learning. Parents love getting updates throughout the day and with real-time updates from SmartCare, they no longer have to wait until the end of the day to know how their child is doing in child care.
Parent newsletters are typically written weekly or monthly and are printed out or sent to parents via email. The newsletter informs parents and family members about school news, upcoming events, field trips and activities, resources available, and more.
Handling Tough Issues
When presenting a concern to parents, be prepared to explain what methods have already been used to address the issue and what new plan of action is being considered. Parents do not want concerns shared without a tentative action plan.
Current Ways to Communicate with Parents:
- Bulletin boards
- Daily sheets
- Lunchtime visits
- Quarterly meetings
- Notes or phones calls
- An open-door policy
- Volunteer opportunities
- SmartCare parent app
- SmartCare parent web portal
Parents Communicating with a Center
Parents should communicate to child care center staff about any issues or developments that may affect a child's behavior such as teething, potty training, an absent parent, or even a new sibling. An open line of communication is essential to keeping both parents and staff on the same page. Effective communication is vital to a child care center's success.
Find out what method of communication works best for parents: in-person, phone, email, or using an app. Knowing the best way to reach parents can ensure they receive all the critical communication coming from the child care center.