How to Revamp Your Center's Parent and Staff Communication System
5/13/2022 | Emily Jaeger
Take it from former rugby player and coach Brian McClennan: “Communication is what makes a team strong.” This is definitely true of early childcare, however, unlike rugby, your team is large, multi-faceted, and complex. Internally, teachers and administrators need to be able to communicate successfully amongst themselves. Externally, administrators and teachers need to keep families up-to-date, share learner milestones, and problem solve in real-time.
Most importantly, in early childcare, the stakes are much higher. Poor and disorganized communication directly impacts the safety of your learners and can quickly erode relationships with your families.
Identifying the Problem
The first step to improving your communication system is to identify the problem(s). What is your biggest time suck? What is falling through the cracks? Where do you sense the most frustration?
Sometimes, the best way to determine what is going wrong with internal or external communications is to conduct an audit of your current system. For example, you might keep track of how many families or staff respond to an email announcement, in-class handout, or survey. Or just count how many different technologies and systems you use to accomplish all communications at your facility.
Without the right tools to easily connect with families and staff, you may begin to feel like your organization has a strong case of the “personal invitation” syndrome--where to get anything done each person requires one or more individualized check-ins. Missed internal announcements can breed frustration and disrupt everything from schedule changes to organization-wide programming rollouts. The impact of missed external communications and poor record-keeping can vary from annoyance to major disaster.
With a wide range of communication technologies--flyers, phone calls, and text messages, individual emails and e-blasts, etc.--and limited time on the part of families and staff, it is very easy for something important to fall through the cracks.
To keep things from getting overwhelming, it is important to prioritize what you want to improve in your current communications system. For each business, these answers might be slightly different, but you will probably be able to recognize where you feel the most pain--confused staff and parents, messy records, missed announcements, and lack of participation.
Choosing which elements of your business’s communications you want to change first will help guide you towards the best solution. For example, if you notice that families often forget upcoming events and activities, consider a provider that makes it easy to automatically send reminders.
How to Evaluate a Provider
With the variety of solutions available, you need clear guidelines for assessing the best providers and making sure that they demonstrate measurable results. The last thing you need is to replace one faulty system with another! Some important questions to consider when choosing a provider are:
- Is every facet of communications contained within one application?
- Can staff and families access communication features from anywhere?
- Can you message staff and/or families one-on-one and also send out organization-wide announcements?
- Can staff efficiently record and share photos of learner activities and milestones with families?
- Can the application link communications and memories to learner profiles?
- Can staff securely communicate with families without giving out personal phone numbers?
- How will you measure the results of implementing this new tool?
How Playground Can Help
Connect with every family and strengthen your administrative team with Playground’s Communication technology. No more shuffling between apps, flyers, and emails to spread the word (or find it). No more missed details or memories. Playground combines what are often separate communication technologies into one application: where all internal and external group and one-on-one messaging, announcements, and reminders all arrive and are stored in one place. Staff can also efficiently record and share memories--photos and videos of learners--with families.
Our goal is to free up your staff while also making internal and external communications as easy as possible for your families. Playground saves time and money by avoiding that “personal invitation” syndrome as well as efficiently sharing and saving information. So then the question becomes what will you do with all that saved time? Some childcare centers have used financial savings to give staff raises. Other administrators use the time to be more present in the classroom or build deeper relationships with families. Whatever you choose will definitely be more enjoyable than individually reminding each family for the sixteenth time to label their children’s identical water bottles.
Emily Jaeger is a professional writer with a background in education (she's taught every age group from preschool to retirement). Her writing has been featured on Parents Magazine, Kveller, Motherfigure and more. You can connect with Emily via her website emilyjaeger.com or on instagram @soulinparaphrase.
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