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10 Ways to Create Partnerships with Childcare Families

When you care for and educate someone’s child, family members want to know you care, how they can be involved, be reassured of their choice to send their child to your program, and how their child is developing. Read 10 ways to create partnerships with childcare families and develop mutual respect.

10 Ways to Create Partnerships with Childcare Families

10 Ways to Create Partnerships with Childcare Families

Parents want to be in the know and part of their child’s learning. Strong partnerships, effective communication and parent involvement are marks of quality early childhood education and lead to positive outcomes for children. Parents are children’s first teachers and play the most important role in a child’s life, so we must find ways to partner with families.

Provide Policies and Handbooks

All early childhood programs must create a set of policies for their childcare business. A detailed parent handbook communicates what you want families to know and expect. Providing this important information upfront reduces conflicts and reduces issues in the future. Even if they don’t read them, you can refer the families to the policies and handbook if questions or problems arise. The beginning of the school year is an excellent time to review your policies and make changes if necessary. 

Read NAEYC’s Five Rs for Promoting Positive Family Engagement

Host a Preschool Open House

Think of this as your first family event of the year. Plan an open house event, even if you have the same children you cared for in the summer. You’ve organized your space, maybe redecorated, planned the curriculum, and are excited for back to school. Invite families to see what you’ve done and share your excitement! 

An open house is the perfect time to provide information or updates about your program’s curriculum, policies, and staff. The time and effort invested helps build a sense of community and transparency.  Open houses can be casual and include handouts, a couple of activities, a tour of the classroom or childcare space, a time to get to know each other better or get 

If you haven’t already, put out a family questionnaire for families to complete at your open house. It’s a good way to get to know each family personally. Place a  written questionnaire in a file and refer to it throughout the year. You can’t possibly remember everything families might share with you when you first meet. Be sure to add notes to their file from time to time. 

Plan Family Events

Plan special days where families can participate in activities at the child care center. Families participating in events could involve story reading, arts and crafts, or outdoor games, fostering interaction between parents, children, and educators—other events like holiday celebrations, Muffins for Moms, family picnics, or park meet-ups. Read my Tips for Hosting Preschool Family Events. At least plan the dates in advance so families can mark their calendars and encourage family participation. Plan the rest of the details closer to the date of the event. Fun activities can go a long way to build collaborative relationships. Keep it simple and invite parents to participate in an activity with their child at pick up time once a month.

Hold Parent Teacher Conferences

It seems so formal, especially for family or in-home child care. It can be, or you can make it an inviting time in your program where you connect with families on a different level. All early childhood settings should reserve time to sit down with families to communicate and address concerns. It’s an excellent opportunity for you to show parents what you know about their child, how you are helping them develop, and reinforce yourself as a child development expert.

Parent-teacher conferences are a great way to review children’s learning and development, share some good news about their child or address challenging behaviors. There’s only so much that can be said or addressed during pick-up times. Face-to-face, respectful communication with students’ families establishes that families and educators are equal partners in their child’s education. 

Offer Ongoing and Multiple Communication Methods

Use social media platforms, like Facebook or Instagram, to share regular updates, tips, and resources related to child care and early childhood education.

This type of communication connects families and preschools but also works as a marketing system. When you organically share activities, daily photos, and updates, current families comment and share your posts, sharing your business with their friends. Be sure you have written permission to share photos on social media, and do not use names. If families want to tag themselves in pictures, it’s up to them. Only share complimentary photos and demonstrate professionalism and care within your program.

Monthly newsletters and activity calendars are typical methods of child care communications and can be shared on websites, via email or within apps. Newsletters can include curriculum updates, upcoming events or special days like birthdays or holiday celebrations. 

Apps like brightwheel are excellent for sharing individual development and personal updates with families throughout the day. Although most people use apps these days, not everyone is comfortable with digital technology, so ensure you find the best way to communicate with each family to reach them. Communication journals or daily notes may work best for some families.

Create a Family Resource Library

Collect reputable books and find resources online that you can print and make available. Think about topics parents need – teething, sleep issues, discipline, recipes, and community resources. Consider refreshing the resources monthly. For example, during a winter month, provide a health tips sheet, soup recipe, and indoor play ideas. Listen and be on the lookout for ways to unique ways to support the families in your program. A variety of supports may be needed depending on the needs within your childcare community. 

Set up a small bookshelf or book basket. Provide handouts or share resources digitally on your website or via your newsletter. Offer to help create an action plan for any family that needs community resources.

Offer a Toy or Book Check Out System

Extend the learning by offering a toy kit or book checkout system. A small bag with a book, puzzle, coordinating color sheet, or matching game can be enjoyable! Only offer materials you are okay with not getting back. 

Consider creating a policy to charge for unreturned or damaged materials or require a  limit on how much you send home with one family. A “two strikes and you’re out” system may also work if resources aren’t respected. Find materials for a toy and book checkout system at thrift stores or Marketplace but make sure toys are safe and in good condition. Games make a great checkout item!

Provide Volunteer & Donation Opportunities

Children are in your care because families need to work, but that doesn’t mean they can’t or won’t volunteer. Need work done on your playground? Need events planned or resources made? Ask families what skills they can offer and what they would like to help with. They could organize a fundraiser or set up a rummage sale.

Are there community involvement events you could participate in as a center? Think of parades or hosting a vendor space at a community event. Can you collaborate with other community groups?

Provide opportunities for families to volunteer in the classroom on party days, field trips, reading stories, or sharing their family’s cultural celebrations, traditions, or foods.

Sometimes parents’ responsibilities don’t allow them to have time to leave work and participate in your program. Still, they can collect and donate recycled items or household resources you could use in your activities. Make a list of recycled items you collect or an Amazon wish list.

Offer Parent Workshops

One way to support families is to arrange to host an expert, like a parenting expert, social worker or therapist, to teach families about discipline, eating issues, or sensory concerns. If you don’t have enough space to arrange such an event in your home or facility, consider setting it up as a community event or find one already planned locally. Discover what may be available through human services or community organizations. Collaborate with other child care providers in your community to share expenses and offer new ways to build collaborative partnerships in your community. 

Offer Family Feedback Surveys

Regularly solicit feedback from parents through surveys or informal discussions. Offering a way for families to provide feedback shows that you value their input and are committed to continuous improvement. Some practical ways to collect feedback include:

  • paper survey
  • suggestion box
  • Google Form
  • Survey Monkey

Gathering feedback from parents is essential for improving childcare services. Here are some open-ended questions you can include in your survey:

1. What aspects of our childcare program have positively impacted your child’s development?
2. How could we enhance the communication between parents and educators for a more collaborative experience?
3. Can you share any specific moments or activities your child has enjoyed most at our child care center?
4. Are there areas where you believe we could improve your child’s learning environment or overall experience?
5. How can we better support your child’s unique needs and interests?
6. Do you have any suggestions for incorporating more parent involvement or engagement in our childcare community?
7. Is there anything you would like to know more about regarding our curriculum, teaching methods, or daily routines?
8. How well do you feel our child care center prepares your child for future educational experiences?
9. Are there any additional resources, workshops, or topics you would like to explore to support your child’s early learning journey?

Feel free to adapt these questions to fit your survey’s goals and the parents’ preferences. Encouraging thoughtful and detailed responses will provide valuable insights for improving your childcare services.

These 10 Ways to Create Partnerships with Childcare Families should be tailored to your preferences and the needs of the families you work with. They can help create a collaborative and supportive environment that benefits children and parents.