19th January 2024 All Posts

5 Ways to Improve Your Nursery Occupancy in 2024

Happy children playing at nursery

Running a successful nursery in 2024 comes with its own set of challenges but maintaining high occupancy rates is essential for most childcare providers. While a waiting list of children is many nursery’s dream — getting to this point requires continuous effort and determination. 

In a rapidly evolving landscape, where parents have more options than ever before, Connect Childcare is here to help you stay ahead. Let’s explore five effective strategies to boost your nursery’s occupancy and ensure a thriving childcare setting.

1. First impressions are lasting impressions

Parents often make quick decisions based on their initial experiences when visiting a childcare setting. A positive first impression fosters confidence and sets the tone for a trusting and long-lasting relationship between childcare providers and parents.

Parents will often ask to have a look around a setting before they decide whether or not it is the right fit for them and their child. The opportunity to tour a setting not only allows parents to visually assess the environment but also provides a unique chance to engage with staff, ask questions, and gain insights into the day-to-day workings of the setting.

As a childcare provider, your goal during these walkthroughs should extend beyond a simple tour. It’s about creating an experience that leaves a lasting and positive impression. The ambience should be welcoming, the staff friendly, and the facilities well-maintained. A clean and organised space not only reflects professionalism but also assures parents of your commitment to their child’s wellbeing.

During the walkthrough, take the time to engage with parents. Answer their questions patiently and provide insights into the daily routine, learning activities, and safety measures. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase the strengths of your childcare setting. Be transparent about policies, share success stories, and demonstrate how your team nurtures a supportive and stimulating environment for children.

Most importantly, confidence is contagious. If you portray professionalism and confidence during the walkthrough, you build a sense of trust in parents. Clear communication, a well-organised setting, and knowledgeable staff all contribute to building this trust. A parent who leaves with confidence in your childcare setting is more likely to form a long-lasting partnership with you.

2. Build a strong online presence

With the increasing role of online channels in our daily lives, your website is often the first point of contact for parents interested in your childcare setting. Ensure that your website is not only user-friendly but also reflects the professionalism and warmth of your setting.

Use your website as an opportunity to showcase just how great your setting is. If you have received positive feedback from Ofsted, proudly display it for parents to see. You could even incorporate parent testimonials that speak to the quality of care and learning experiences you provide. This not only adds credibility but also reinforces the positive first impression parents are seeking.

In 2024, it is also important to harness the power of social media to connect with parents and the wider community. Regularly update your profiles with exciting nursery news, upcoming events, and snapshots of daily life. Share posts that highlight different aspects of your childcare provision, from educational activities to fun events. Encourage parent involvement by creating a sense of community through online platforms.

Position your social media accounts as valuable resources for parents. Share ad-hoc suggestions for at-home activities, parenting tips, or relevant articles. By providing helpful and engaging content, you position your childcare setting as a partner in the parenting journey, fostering a sense of trust and connection.

3. Ensure parents feel involved

A great way to ensure parents are involved in their children’s care is by inviting them to parents’ evenings, developing a crucial bridge between educators and families. These structured events provide an opportunity for parents to discuss their child’s progress, development, and any concerns they may have. Ensure that parents feel comfortable and encouraged to actively participate in these sessions. Share insights into the child’s achievements, areas of focus, and collaborative goals for their continued growth. This open line of communication fosters trust and strengthens the partnership between parents and childcare providers.

Organising family fun days is an excellent way to bring parents, children, and staff together in a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere. These events can include various activities, games, and entertainment, creating opportunities for families to bond and share positive experiences. Incorporate elements that reflect the diversity of the families within your childcare community, fostering a sense of inclusion and belonging. Family fun days not only strengthen the sense of community but also provide an informal platform for parents and staff to connect on a personal level.

Why not invite parents to stay and play sessions to actively participate in their child’s daily activities within the childcare setting? Whether it’s joining in on a specific learning activity, participating in playtime, or engaging in storytelling, these sessions create a hands-on experience for parents. It allows them to witness firsthand the learning environment, interact with educators, and gain insights into their child’s daily routines. Stay-and-play sessions also encourage parents to share their skills and talents, contributing to a diverse and enriching learning environment.

By incorporating parents’ evenings, family fun days, stay-and-play sessions, and maintaining open communication channels, childcare providers can create an inclusive and supportive environment. This collaborative effort between educators and parents not only enhances children’s learning experiences but also strengthens the overall sense of community within the childcare setting. If parents have the opportunity to engage and develop a strong relationship with you and your setting, they’re more likely to make referrals to friends and family members looking for childcare providers.

4. Embrace technology for efficient operations

In today’s digital age, leveraging technology is key to streamlining operations and enhancing communication with parents. Connect Childcare offers innovative solutions to manage registrations, streamline billing processes, and provide real-time updates to parents. By adopting such tools, you not only improve efficiency but also create a positive impression of your nursery as one that stays ahead in embracing modern solutions.

Our ParentZone app goes beyond conventional communication methods, offering parents a real-time glimpse into their children’s daily experiences at nursery. This strengthens the partnership between parents and childcare providers and saves valuable time spent on traditional daily log books and lengthy end-of-day feedback sessions. With ParentZone, parents have instant access to information, allowing them to revisit and review important details without the need for follow-up phone calls or unnecessary worries due to misunderstandings during the busy collection time.

5. Reflection and continuous development

As we step into 2024, strategic initiatives become pivotal in navigating the challenges and opportunities within the early years sector. Regular reflection on your childcare setting is not just a recommended practice but a fundamental necessity.  Implementing new policies, encouraging ongoing professional development, and integrating childcare management software can have a profound impact on your setting’s success. This ensures that your approach aligns with the best interests of your staff, parents, and the children under your care. 

Recognising reflection as a vital process is key to fostering growth within your setting. By embracing change, implementing innovative policies, prioritising continuous professional development, and leveraging childcare management software, you not only enhance operational efficiency but also create a foundation for sustained growth and excellence.

Running a successful nursery in 2024 demands a multifaceted approach, and maintaining high occupancy rates is integral to the success of childcare providers. Hopefully, this article will guide you towards a nursery that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of both parents and staff, ensuring a journey of growth, partnership, and success.

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About the Author

Content Marketing Executive at Connect Childcare