As a director of a center that caters to younger parents all the way through grandparents, I find it very difficult to communicate to all of our families. You have some that will throw away every paper that you give to them or not even look at the note that is posted and then you have some that don’t have an email or any type of tech device to read the information given.
We have had to become very innovative when it comes to making sure that we can reach all of the parents in our center because of the different ways of taking in communication. We have had to think about those families that are younger and more tech-savvy and those families that have maybe grandparents or aunts and uncles raising them. I thought that this would be a great opportunity to share with you some tips and tricks of ways that we have found to be helpful in reaching multigenerational families and within a more tech-savvy world.
Survey your families.
Find out what fits your families and try to accommodate them all. This sounds somewhat time-consuming, but it is beneficial when finding out what fits your facility. What fits one program is not going to fit another and finding out what works best for your facility is key. You can do a google survey or survey monkey for those families that are more, or you could do a simple paper and pencil, one question box and allow the families and children do the survey together. Short, Sweet, and to the point is best.
Have Different options for Families
Utilize technology for your families that work best with technology. Make sure you use more than just one type of informational source when it comes to technology. Use email but also either some type of social media or text reminder. Band or Remind are some resources of text messaging that will allow you to text a large number of people at one time, mail chimp will allow you to email a large number of people at one time, or Class Dojo will allow a lot of different options when it comes to informing your parents. There are many more different options than just these that will allow you to do different things with technology. But also provide a paper form and flyers to those parents that may not have technology as a resource or may need that paper to put on their fridge to keep them in tune with what’s going on.
Connect the Classroom to the Parents
As a parent it makes me feel more in tune when I can see what is happening in my child’s classroom and be able to stay up to date on what they are working on and get to enhance that at home or ask her what she thought about a specific activity that they had done in class. There is no more of asking what she did for the day and hearing I don’t know because she knows that I know and I have seen what she has done in the classroom. Connecting the parents to the classroom electronically will help you as the teacher increase your parent involvement, but also make the parent’s feel more involved in what’s going on which in turn helps you help the child understand the learning material, and you get the parent’s buy-in.
Connect the curriculum to the parents and give them access to what you are doing. There are curriculums out there that are pre-made that allow parent access to the themes, activities, and even books that they are reading in the classroom. This is a great resource for families and an enriching way to help the families with resources to help enhance the child’s literacy involvement. Big Day Curriculum is on that has these resources available to the families and the teachers. But there are a lot of programs that do not have access to this type of curriculum, and that’s ok. Provide resources for parents on your classroom blog or facebook page. Class Dojo will also allow for you to provide resources for your families and activities that you can do together at home. There are many different ways of doing this, but it is up to you to find which program that best fits your needs or the needs of your program.
Show off your classrooms hard work
Utilize these programs to their fullest potential. Show off what your children are doing in the classroom. Not only are you showing the parents that they are learning, but you are also building the trust of the parents in the classroom. They feel more comfortable when they can see what their children are doing and that you are encouraging their growth in the ways that they are learning.
Give information to your parents about what Early Education looks like
Not only should you provide information on what Early Education is and what it should look like but provide video and pictures of what you are doing in your classroom and explain why these activities are crucial to the growth of their child and how and what they are learning from these activities.
Show Respect for Technology but also know when enough is way too much
Technology is a great tool for our classrooms in many different ways. It can be a great tool for communication and enhancing the educational benefits for children within the classroom. But one thing that I see that happens way too much in classrooms is that teachers abuse it and try to use it more for a babysitter which it is not. Children need to play. This is how they learn best. They need to be able to manipulate their environment and learn how things work. If they are always looking at a screen, then they are losing beneficial playtime that will enhance their ability to learn in a real-life situation. Limit viewing time. It is recommended that children do not have more than 15 minutes per day of playing on tablets or computers.
Make sure that you create boundaries of what will be acceptable within your facility and in the classroom on what technology will be utilized for. If you have a tablet that the children can use what will be allowed on the tablet and what can the children access.
Make your families aware of the rules and recommended times within your classroom so that they may mimic at home what is done within the classroom.
Promoting info in a fun way
For those parents that are not tech savvy, create a flyer or a note that is eye-catching telling in very few words the information that you have posted.
Make your posts or information that you provide fun and inviting, but also frequent. Frequency is key. If you are doing some type of informational post make sure that you do it weekly or even daily. When you post something just once in a blue moon people are not going to be used to checking it and will ignore any information that you put up. But if you post on a daily basis or weekly basis, make it fun and inviting then parents are going to be more likely to look for the information and be more apt to check what you send. To do this add pictures of your classroom, short little video clips, or colorful words will even do the trick. Do something that is eye-catching.