A thoughtful communication plan with families is an integral part to managing any childcare setting. Clear and open communication works to create a sense of calm, set expectations, and build trust between families and the school. Without this, families can feel disconnected, uncertain, and, at worst, question whether their child is in the right place. As you plan, implement, and review your communication strategy, keep these key tenets in mind for productive messaging and interaction with your school community.
Information empowers parents to be active partners in their child’s education. Therefore, communicate often and use multiple channels to ensure that you reach parents. When communicating with families, anticipate what parents might not know and what they need to know. From the start of the school year, make it clear to parents how you will be communicating with them and where they can look to find relevant information. Build in a structure for a weekly newsletter or email that goes out on a scheduled cadence. Make these messages as comprehensive as possible by including key information, dates, and notes about what to expect in the week ahead. And, in addition to this communication, be sure to send out reminders anytime a parent needs to take action or send items into school. These practices can eliminate unnecessary calls to teachers and school staff and prevent moments of stress for families from unexpected events or needs.
Clear and Organized Messaging
Parents are busy and often juggling multiple children, jobs, and other commitments. To maximize the effectiveness of communications, it is important to communicate in a clear, concise manner. When formatting messages, bold important dates and times and use headings to direct families to key information. Use simple, straightforward sentences that leave no room for misunderstanding. Before sending, verify that all information is accurate. If something is tentative or has a backup plan or rain date, annotate that within the message. This type of communication creates a sense of organization and calm that transcends the entire school community.
Positive & Respectful Tone
School to family communications are an important tool for making families feel supported by and connected to a school community. Ensure that messages are warm, positive, and friendly. When receiving messages, assume best intentions from parents and families. When challenging topics arise, answer with a grounded, respectful response. This type of communication conveys to parents and families that you are all on a team committed to the productive growth and development of their child.
Transparent and Open Approach
In order for a school-family partnership to be successful, parents must trust that the school will communicate any and all relevant information in a timely manner. This includes information about unanticipated events that a child might be thinking about after the school day as well as health and safety information that parents need to know to make decisions for their child. It is fundamental for a school to operate with transparency and openness in their communication in order for parents to feel safe and comfortable when their child is in your care.
Professional & Polished Product
Written communications with families are a significant proportion of the interactions parents have with the school, staff, and director. It is important that these communications are free of errors and convey a professional tone. Create a system for approving and proofreading important communications being sent to families. Consider sharing a template or guidance with teachers for their communications with families. This extra step of thought and care in communications instills a sense of confidence among parents.