As we’ve discussed recently, most childcare centers now embrace the importance of early learning and aim to be spaces of high-quality early childhood education. Research continues to prove the importance of a child’s earliest years; in fact, “studies show that after the first 2000 days—roughly 5-1/2 years—a child’s brain is already 90% developed.” The more childcare providers and families can be on the same page, the better! Many parents want to be actively involved in their child’s early learning years, but may not know how. Here are three ways your center can help connect learning at daycare to learning at home:
1. Establish open lines of communication
Parents won’t know what is going on at your childcare center unless there are clear and open means of communication! Healthy dialogue is one of the best ways to build a strong relationship with families and can set the foundation for learning at the center and at home. Consider these tips for strengthening communication and connecting with more parents by reaching out in a variety of ways:
Send out a regular newsletter describing the learning going on with each age group (for example, seasonal topics like butterflies and flowers, or baby farm animals).
Keep up-to-date bulletin boards with pictures and themes.
Maintain a social media or website presence with information about current topics, events, field trips, and visitors to the center.
Offer in-person conferences with parents—never underestimate the power of a face‑to‑face meeting in building relationships!
Send out a brief update on each child’s day with information about what they ate, whether they napped, their bathroom habits, and projects and enrichment activities in which they participated. Rather than use paper notes, childcare centers can make this a seamless process with tools like Smartcare’s cloud-based parent chat, student progress reporting features, and real-time updates.
2. Provide families with volunteer opportunities
Engaged families are involved families. Invite parents to spend more than just drop-off and pick‑up times at your center. Parents can even help center staff in classrooms at the center, read to children, and be an extra hand to support big projects. Other parents may feel more comfortable helping out behind the scenes, whether in the office or in the garden. Families can also help plan special events, such as staff appreciation potlucks, spring cleaning days, and holiday celebrations.
3. Offer parent education and resources
When you’ve taken the time to build strong relationships through communication and family engagement, parents will come to see your center as an expert source of information about early learning. Provide parents with resources about what is developmentally appropriate, so they understand the approach your center takes to early learning and how they can support it. Several nonprofit organizations, with missions of giving young children a solid start in life, offer resources that can be shared with families:
Healthy Children is a parenting website from the American Academy of Pediatrics, offering articles, research, tips, and activities.
Get Ready to Read! is designed to support educators, parents, and young children in the development of early literacy skills in the years before kindergarten. The website has free activities and information.
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)’s For Families section provides research-based resources, tips, and ideas for families.
When your childcare center makes the effort to keep families informed and involved, the children in your care will benefit from improved daycare and home connections. Keep the important early learning going with real-time updates sent to parents via a software solution like Smartcare that makes it quick and simple to stay in touch!