Nursery managers share four top tips on how to improve parent partnerships
Establishing and maintaining productive and fruitful parent partnerships is essential — contributing towards not only the commercial success of UK nurseries but also achieving the best outcomes for the children under their care.
Developing these pivotal relationships, however, is a finely-balanced process that is dependent on active, honest and open dialogue — which isn’t always easily achievable due to a range of factors, including busy parent schedules, lost paperwork or poor communication methods.
Building these relationships should be prioritised, so to help childcare providers gain a better insight into best practices across early years settings, we’ve compiled a list of four top tips on how to improve the practitioner-parent partnership, taken from a recent survey we ran on the topic.
Read on to find out more…
1. Talk to families
Though it may sound obvious, getting to know the families of the children in your care is foundational to building successful partnerships.
Making the effort to build a genuine relationship that goes beyond a surface-level interaction enables nursery staff to really become acquainted with the background of a child, helping to build a rapport between all parties which is conducive to honest and open conversations. This means ensuring that regular conversations take place, where you can be truthful and tactful about a child’s development.
Talking to family members and carers can also help employees identify whether more support is needed. Parents and guardians are, afterall, a child’s first educator — so ensuring that they are happy and comfortable is an important piece of the puzzle. In practice, this could involve working with parents by asking how you can support them.
However, it’s equally important to tread carefully — this is a delicate topic, and some parents or guardians may take offence. Always approach these situations carefully, don’t make assumptions and make sure that any concerns or worries have been carefully documented.
2. Implement effective communication
Building solid partnerships with parents is dependent on having good communication methods in place.
In a survey of 107 experienced nursery owners and managers we conducted, almost a third (30.4%) of participants said they had trouble with lost or unread documents — highlighting the problems of paper-based communications. Face-to-face chats also have their share of challenges, with verbal miscommunications being cited as a source of frustration. Electronic communications, however, seem to pose fewer problems, with only 15.7% of survey participants mentioning instances of families having difficulty accessing electronic communications.
This indicates the efficacy of electronic-based communication as it reduces the margin for lost information — though the success of this technology depends on all parties using it correctly. Ultimately, getting to know the family members of the children in your nursery will help inform what communication works best to build successful partnerships, and offers an opportunity to raise and resolve any issues at hand.
For example, if you’re keen to banish paper communications entirely, having an in-person conversation highlighting the benefits of dedicated apps, like ParentZone, will really go a long way. Similarly, for those parents or carers who have no interest in emails or using dedicated apps, taking the time to engage with them face-to-face during drop-off or pick-up will be appreciated.
3. Share key moments
Sharing achievements with parents and guardians is an effective way for nursery employees to bolster parent partnerships.
Parents and guardians love to be kept updated with what their child is up to when they are not present. Pictures, updates and regular check-ins can help parents feel more connected, and relieve any anxieties about missing out on pivotal moments in their child’s learning and development journey. These updates are highly appreciated, as it shows how their child has behaved at a particular time, which can then be later discussed with the child or nursery staff as and when necessary. It’s also a great way to keep parents and guardians in the loop regardless of their location or schedules, offering them valuable snapshots into their child’s day.
This is reflected in our survey statistics, where when asked ‘What do parents love most about the way your nursery communicates?’, the thoughtful and timely use of photos and videos was felt to be the single most popular form of information sharing.
This can be done through dedicated technology, like our ParentZone platform, which allows parents to access snapshots of their child’s ‘wow’ moments, including pictures, videos and links to early years frameworks and guidance.
4. Consider technology
Our survey revealed two clear themes; the first being that there is no substitute for honest, ongoing, face-to-face communication, and the second is that app-based communications are increasingly the reliable companion to in-person conversation — surpassing previously favoured methods such as emails, phone calls and pieces of paper.
These themes highlight just how important it is to move with the times and embrace technology that has been designed for the early years setting environment. Our software, ParentZone, is used by a wide range of nurseries from across the UK and has been created specifically to increase partnerships with parents by facilitating two-way communication between parents and your nursery.
Parental Engagement: A Guide for Progressive Nursery Managers
To discover more about what parental engagement best practice looks like, download our free and dedicated guide on the subject.