6th September 2023 Partnership with Parents All Posts

Parental engagement best practice; four top tips for UK nurseries

Blog image outlining parental engagement best practice; four top tips for UK nurseries

Establishing productive and honest partnerships with parents is crucial to achieving the best possible outcomes for children — as well as commercial success — for UK nurseries. But what does best practice truly look like for those early years setting looking to increase and improve parental engagement?

To gain insight into this complex topic, we recently surveyed 107 nursery managers and practitioners to uncover what best practice looks like for them and what they’re looking to improve upon. Here, we delve deeper into what UK nursery practitioners can do more of to continue building on their existing relationships with parents and caregivers…

1. There is no substitute for face-to-face communication, but it does have it disadvantages

In our recent survey, 64.5% of nursery managers (69/107 of the sample) said their communications with parents took place predominantly in person. Now while there are a variety of methods available to practitioners to be able to speak to parents effectively, if there is the option to have a face-to-face chat in the same room, nothing can quite beat this.

However, a chat either in the classroom or the nursery doorway at drop-off and pick-up times doesn’t come without its challenges. 24.5% of our recent survey sample agreed that on occasion, they encountered the problem of messages not being passed on. Another obstacle to consider is the likelihood of verbal miscommunications too. If parents are rushing to drop-off and pick-up their child, there is the possibility of messages being misheard due to rushed explanations — 21% of our sample agreed to having experienced frustrations with this. 

2. App and electronic-based communications are becoming increasingly more reliable

One of the core themes that has come from our recent survey is that app-based communications are becoming an increasingly more reliable tool when compared to traditional in-person chats. Some of the functionality of electronic platforms is loved more by parents and practitioners compared to face-to-face discussions. Almost a quarter of respondents said the app they use to communicate with their child’s nursery takes precedence when it comes to catching up with practitioners, with 11.2% confirming that emails played the biggest role in this process.

It’s no surprise that electronic communications between parents and practitioners is becoming increasingly popular. Apps such as ParentZone allow parents to engage in their child’s learning journey remotely, with them being able to access picture updates and snapshots of key moments, as well as have the ability to access early years framework and guidance. 

3. Paper no longer has a place in early years settings

30.4% of nursery managers admitted to having trouble with lost paperwork and unread documents.  This gives a clear indication as to why nurseries are continuing to generate less paper-based communications, not just as a cost-saving exercise, but to avoid messages not being passed on, too. 

As more parents rely on app-based communications to chat with their child’s nursery, it makes sense for all messages to be directed to one place for ease of reference and also to ensure that those all important messages will be read!

4. There is no ‘one size fits all’ approach to communicating with parents

67% of practitioners in our recent survey sample admitted that their nursery could communicate more effectively. Now it’s important to remember that there are of course a range of best practice techniques that can be implemented to improve the parent-practitioner relationship, but that doesn’t mean all nurseries should take the same blanket approach. What works for one early years setting may not work for another.

That being said, one fifth of our sample said they wish they were more digitally savvy when it comes to engaging parents, with a further 33% agreeing that they wish they could have more time for face-to-face chats at drop-off and pick-up times. 

Regardless of the type of communication tool that works best for speaking to parents at your nursery, it’s essential that they also engage with their child’s practitioners too. 34.9% of participants felt parents could be more active in sharing news of their child’s key moments from home.

As long as parents are offered the opportunity to easily respond to messages, as well as having the time available for meaningful in person dialogue, nurseries will be able to forge and develop better partnerships with parents. Overall, our highly experienced, professional sample agreed that regular, honest, open dialogue is the foundation to a child achieving the best possible outcomes from their early years setting.

To find more about what parental engagement best practice looks like following our recent survey of 107 senior practitioners, download our latest guide for progressive nursery managers.

Parental Engagement: A Guide for Progressive Nursery Managers

Improving parent partnerships and engagement is a journey, and one which benefits from the expertise of experienced, empathetic and progressive professionals.

To discover more about what parental engagement best practice looks like, download our free and dedicated guide on the subject.
Share this article
About the Author

Content Marketing Executive at Connect Childcare