Parent involvement can be one of the most frustrating things about working in child care. Parents are busy with their jobs and don’t always appear to be interested in communicating with you and/or participating in school activities. Be empathetic with parents and try to understand their stress levels and living situations. It is important to realize that no matter how hard you try, not EVERY parent will show the level of involvement that you hope for. However, here are various parent involvement ideas to try. Try not to rely on one single method. Getting parents involved is partly related to understanding how your families operate and what works best to get their attention.
Ideas to get parents involved:
Greet every parent personally – Always say hello and welcome to the parent when they drop their child off. Yes, you want to greet the child too, but don’t forget to greet the parent by name. This easy friendly guesture will make parents feel welcome, which can lead to more parent involvement in the future.
(Tip: Try to get to know the parents – find out their interests, hobbies, passions, etc. This will help in more in-depth conversations. Ask about something they have talked about previously.)
Set up a Private Facebook Group – Invite parents to join your classroom’s private Facebook group (most of them are probably very already active on Facebook anyway). Only those in a private group can see the posts. On this page, post pictures of the children involved in activities, suggestions for ideas to do at home, reminders, parenting tips, etc.
(Tip: Make the page interactive…Create polls, ask simple questions, create contests/giveaways, etc.)
Create Pinterest Boards – Create a Pinterest account with boards and pins that will be of interest to your families. Ideas include: Weekend Activity Ideas, Recommended books for Toddlers (or the age group you work with), and Family Meal Recipes.
(Tip: You could also offer the option of turning your boards private and adding parents as pinning collaborators.)
Use Communication Apps – There are many child care and preschool teacher apps that are recommended by early childhood educators to share pictures and updates with parents. CLICK HERE for app suggestions.
(Tip: Communicate on a regular basis – and commit to the amount of time you will communicate.)
Make “Sunshine” Calls – Reach out with a quick phone call when you see that parents need some cheering up. Or make a practice of calling at least one parent a week to relay good news.
(Tip: Keep track of these sunshine calls and make sure each family receives the same amount of calls throughout the year.)
Monthly Family Projects – Provide a monthly activity for the families to create something together. At the end of each month, have each child show their family’s creation during circle time. Examples: January – create a snowman character out of construction paper; April – Send home bean seeds and have families plant the seeds; October: carve a pumpkin
(Tip: Send home a project information sheet at the beginning of the month with directions, as well as materials that may be needed.)
Host Family Nights – Set up learning stations with activities based your current theme. Allow the parents to rotate through the stations with their child and do the activities.
(Tip: Provide dinner! Everyone loves free food, and this takes the stress off of parents to provide dinner for their family.)
Family Posters – Ask families to work together to create a family poster. Explain that they can fill their poster with photos, drawings, notes, and handprints.
(Tip: Give each family the posterboard, so that they have a base to get started.)
Use a Class Mascot – Choose a class mascot, such as a stuffed animal. Send the mascot home with a different child each weekend (or every other weekend). Include a brief note introducing the mascot and a fill-in-the-blank journal for parents and child to fill out and return on Monday.
(Tip: Encourage the parents to take pictures of the mascot at home or participating in family activities. Ask the parents to text you pictures so that you can share them with the children.)
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