While child care is largely about providing a safe and healthy environment for children to learn and grow, there is certainly a component to child care that involves effectively communicating with parents and guardians.
As a child care provider, learning how to communicate with parents effectively is key, but not every provider takes the time to build the skills.
1. Why Is Effective Communication Important?
Taking the time to learn how to communicate effectively with the parents and guardians of the children in your care will provide you with many benefits, ultimately making your job easier in the long run.
Before we dive into some good communication practices, let’s talk about why good communication is worth the effort:
- Effective communication builds understanding and trust
- Establishing and maintaining positive partnerships with parents
- Will make parents more comfortable with taking their child to your child care facility
Convinced? To get you started, let’s now talk about some key steps in effective communication with parents in child care.
2. Key Steps For Effective Communication With Families
When Learning how to communicate with families in child care, it’s important to try to understand the environment and the conversation from all different sides. When you consider where the parents (and even the children) are coming from, you will better be able to communicate what you’re trying to say in a way that makes the most sense to the other parties.
Here are some steps in how to communicate with parents effectively:
- Look at the interaction from the child’s point of view
- Notice how you are feeling and why you are reacting the way you are
- Make families comfortable with compassionate language and engaged gestures
- Listen to parents carefully, and show that you’re listening with these key non-verbal tactics:
- Be interested and nod;
- Let parents finish what they’re saying before you speak
- Use open-ended questions to get more info if you need it
- Listen with the intention of uncovering important information, rather than with the intention to simply communicate your own stance
- Try to understand parent’s perspectives and their objectives for the conversation
- Speak with parents in a clear, respectful and considerate way; try to be as specific as possible so conversations and tone of voice aren’t left up for interpretation
- Take the child’s parents’ concerns seriously
- Use a problem-solving approach and put your effort into finding a mutually beneficial solution
- Talk about concerns when they come up, rather than waiting for the parent to speak up
- Don’t put off parent meetings
- Be collaborative and try to find solutions together
A Family-Centred Approach
In today’s world, it’s important to understand that learning how to communicate with parents effectively means learning how to communicate with diverse families. No family is the same. For example, families with vulnerabilities may be more reactive to certain instances or kinds of language. Similarly, consider the unique desires and communication styles of rainbow families, blended families and culturally and linguistically diverse families when practicing effective communication with parents in child care.
Taking a family-centered approach is a great method of effective communication with parents in child care. As suggested by Raising Children, here are some basic principles to keep in mind when determining how to communicate with parents effectively:
- Remember that all families are different. Keeping this in mind means that you can offer support that takes into account each family’s individual goals, expectations, values and everyday life.
- Keep in mind that parents always know their children and their family best.
- Every family has strengths. Just like you, families learn and grow best when they use their strengths. Try to point out solutions that cater to the strengths of the parents and the family as a whole.
- Always consider that children’s wellbeing and development depends on the wellbeing of all other family members and of the family as a whole.
Not every family is created equal, and not every family is given the same access to resources, parenting guidance and support. When learning how to communicate with parents effectively remember that family well being depends on informal support and access.
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3. Best Techniques And Tools To Communicate With Families
Getting proactive with your communication is the best method for effective communication with parents in child care. Remember that different kinds of communication are suitable for different types of messages, so having a few go-to communication tactics to lean on when you’re trying to learn how to communicate with parents effectively is key.
Handbooks, such as a parent handbook, as well as a staff handbook. Ensuring that these are as up to date as possible will help you in the long run.
Digital channels allow you to connect with parents on the go through a method of communication that they likely already use. Some example of this could include :
- Mobile friendly newsletters (many child care providers use MailChimp
- A dedicated Facebook group for effective communication with parents in child care
- A WhatsApp or Viber group, which serves a similar purpose to a Facebook group but with less of a ‘social’ component
- Cloud-based services to share photos, videos, and digital portfolios. The most commonly used platforms for this are Dropbox or Google Drive.
- A simple blog or a website portal for parents. You may want to consider the privacy settings on this blog, depending on the type of sensitive information that could be shared on the blog or website.
In-person and traditional methods of communication include:
- Meetings (one-on-one sessions and group meetings)
- Notice boards within each center if you have multiple centers or areas within the center. These notice boards typically include Information concerning community events, the children’s weekly menu and the planned activities for the week.
- Center events, such as morning and afternoon teas, BBQs, special events.
Learning how to communicate with parents effectively and masterfully takes time, but with an open mind and the dedication to making it work, you will undoubtedly see a difference in the way the children’s parents interact with you at the child care facility.
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