Why Parent Engagement is Important in Child Care
You may think that the best childcare centers have great funding, awesome classroom design, high quality curriculum, incorporate technology and apps for education or any number of other things that we hope will boost student achievement.
But did you know that the amount of engagement families have with your center often determines their satisfaction with your program and their child's overall success? We’ve probably all realized that parent engagement is important, but how often do we really examine how important it really is?
Today I want to break down the top 3 reasons why it is essential to connect with the families in your child care center. When we understand the deeper significance of involving parents in childcare, not only will we be more excited about building engagement, but it’ll be easier to get our teams on board as well.
Let’s jump right into the top 3 reasons why parent engagement is essential:
1. It Predicts a Child’s Success
The title says it all. I love this article published by Waterford, an educational organization founded by Dr. Dustin Heuston, a pioneering educator who believed every child is entitled to lifelong learning success. The article begins by asking what the biggest predictor of a child's success is, and their answer isn’t what you would think.
Although some obvious answers might be individual IQ, quality curriculum, or qualified educators, evidence shows that the best predictor of success is actually “the extent to which families encourage learning at home and involve themselves in their child’s education.” They go on to note that “when parents are engaged in their children’s school lives, students have the home support and knowledge they need to not only finish their assignments, but also develop a lifelong love of learning.”
We know that whether we are talking about a child in the nursery or a young adult in college, or continuing education and the workplace, learning doesn’t stop at the school doors at the end of the day. What a child learns is meant to extend into their homelife and expand their understanding and appreciation of life in general.
This is especially a role of the parent in the early learning years. By encouraging family involvement as much as possible, we as early learning educators are contributing an important piece to our children’s long-term success in ways that we often don’t even realize.
2. Benefits for the child’s attitudes
But Why do children do better when their parents are involved? Another that we don’t always think about is how parent involvement impacts a child’s attitudes towards their childcare center, classroom, and education in general.
Research shows that parental involvement doesn’t just boost grades, but also positively influences student attitude and behaviour. When parents collaborate on their child’s education, this improves the child’s attitude toward school, which is reflected in better in-class behaviour, improved self esteem and motivation, and lower absenteeism.
This brings home an essential point for us as early learning educators. If we know that a parents' feelings on their child’s learning environment impact their child's long term outcomes are we doing everything we can to have a positive impact on the earliest stages of education?
We are the often first people to contribute in a large way toward parent's feelings, beliefs, and involvement in their child’s school. This impacts how parents relate to the classroom, and how they view education in general. By creating deeply rooted and authentic relationships with the families in our centers we are teaching them to positively contribute to their child’s long-term education.
This will create huge improvements towards a child's behaviors and beliefs about the center and their education, and will ultimately not only benefit the child, but equip them to take up an important role as a contributing member of society for years to come!
3. Opens up Communication
Another key reason why parent engagement is important is it simply opens up communication channels between the parents and the center. Parents need to feel comfortable in the center and have ways to give feedback without feeling threatened.
If parents are uncomfortable in a school setting they will be less likely to advocate for their child or even support or participate in school events. This creates a disconnect that sabotages the opportunity to strengthen the home-school connection and foster creativity, a joy for learning, and a striving for excellence.
No matter the child or family there will be times when essential conversations need to occur and the best case scenario is that these conversations happen sooner than later. When a parent has an open channel of communication they will be much more likely to bring issues sooner which will allow the center to address any issues or concerns right away, and provide an opportunity for feedback and improvement that might otherwise be missed.
If I have seen one thing in my years as a director it is that parents want to engage! they desire to be known, seen, and acknowledged but they don’t always know how to start the communication. As leaders it is our job to open up as many communication channels as possible and make sure that families feel comfortable in our center and able to communicate in the ways we have made possible.
Just remember that not everyone will communicate best through email, and phone calls may not always be practical. Everyone is different and that’s why we need as many ways to engage as possible. By expanding your business onto social media or creating communication channels via childcare management software you can create centers where families feel welcome, where they are heard and listened to, and where they play an important part in creating and developing their child’s learning opportunities.
Reach out to your parents today and find out how collaborating on their child’s future can be a win win that makes your center stand out from the rest by boosting your children’s attitude, engagement, and attendance, leading to the success that we all want for our children!