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Communication With Parents


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Does anyone have any good ideas of how to give out information to parents in sessional/fullday care? At the moment any letters to parents go into the child's individual tray but we have no way of knowing whether parents have received the letter bar checking every tray.

Also how do people encourage staff to interact with parents on a daily basis?

Any ideas would be appreciated!

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Hi iom

Welcome to the forum and thanks for making your first post.

All our letters are handed to parents/carers at the end of the session so we at least know that they have left the building.

As to encouraging staff to talk with parents on a daily basis I suppose it depends how your sessions are run, starting and finishing times etc. We chat with parents as they arrive in the morning and at home time, some more than others because of what they want to do. Our problem in some ways is getting parents to leave!!! Not because they are concerned about their child but because they enjoy talking with staff and each other.

I really think this one is difficult because it depends on so many factors. Do you have set times for starting and finishing? Who sees the children off the premises? How many children do you have and what ages?

Linda

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Hi iom, and welcome :D I'm in a playgroup with all parents arriving and leaving at the same time so it's probably easier for us, but we stand at the door and give letters out to each parent or carer at the start or end of the session. If you make the letters just short notes there's probably more chance of it being read too. If you've got lots to tell them have you thought about a termly/half termly newsletter? We cram ours full of stuff so that letters throughout the term are reduced and put one on the notice board too!

As for how to encourage staff to interact with parents, erm...why dont they already? Are they shy, busy, cant be bothered? Are the parents unapproachable? Do the parents take the children right into the room or are the children encouraged to go in side on their own? Are the parents met at the door and welcomed by anyone in particular? Do the children have a key worker who the parent has dealings with? Presumably they are welcomed with a 'good morning' and a smile, build on that, chat with the children while they take their coats off involving the parent in the conversation. It can be difficult to talk especially when parents are probably in a hurry so I give out survey once or twice a year to get feedback that way.

Sorry for all the questions, not very positive I know and I certainly dont want you to be scared off after making your first post, and yes I can ramble :o !!! But hopefully somebody else will be able to give you a better start. Good luck :D

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Hi Linda

 

Thanks for quick reply! There are no set times for children arriving and leaving within session times. We have 79 children aged 2 to 5 each day split into 3 age groups across 2 floors. Children are collected by parents/carers from their activity rooms and are not therefore shown off the premises.

 

The problem we have is that either parents may collect when staff are occupied with the children or several parents may turn up at the same time and we don't get to speak to them all.

Any more ideas?!

Thanks

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Hello iom welcome to the forum. When I give out info for parents i put it on

a table in the entranceway. Parents now know where to find it. Any uncollectected info is give by had to the parent at the end of the session by the staff member whose responsibility is to "guard the door"at hometime. I always personally answer parents questions but if they wish to speak to the key worker at the end of the session they are available.Also each child has a home-link news book that the key worker can jot down any progress or difficulty that the child has.

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Thanks for replies I'm new to this so not even sure if I'm using the forum correctly! Doors issue isn't too much of an issue for us as the children can't get out of the building without adult help - very high handles and hard to push doors! The meet and greet issue I'm afraid is one that I know lots of people have issues with (after just reading another forum). Appraisals are happening tomorrow so hopefully staff will identify the problems themselves! Here's hoping!!

Giving out information to parents probably comes down a to willingness for staff to involve themselves with parents (or maybe just certain parents). We'll work with them on this. We have some customer care training scheduled for March. Maybe this will make them realise that its the parents that the nursery fees indirectly paying their wages! Once they realise that maybe things will change rapidly.

 

Thanks

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Also make sure that your staff that children whose parents who work with the group do the best. Do you have a "Communicating with parents" policy and are they aware of it. Staff must all work together for the benefits of the child they have to put any negative feelings to one side.As Ria says if they are passing on written information it is a lot easier for them.

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we also put out termly newsletters on a table for partents to collect, makes it easier to target those who dont pick them up, always the same ones . we do find that this is adequate and other information is usually verbal for a lot of the time. Parents like the idea of the personal touch.

 

As to Door access - while children cannot get out what about strangers or unauthorised / unsupervised adults getting in ? we have had to lock the doors and only allow anyone in the building supervised. we use a door bell but I know others use an intercom system. (fire exits not locked but access out only from inside.) In this way someone is always there to greet them when they come and go and speak to the parents/carers.

we encourage Keyworkers to speak to the parent of each child regularly.

 

even though we have set session times this can often be just as difficult if not more than with staggered collection, we often have to deal with 5 or 6 parents each all wanting information at the same time!! (orderly queue? we try but it seems an increasing problem that they all want to be first!!)

 

No easy answer. Things will change as parents and children change so what works now is unlikely to work next year

 

Inge

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I have had an orderley queue ever since one of the grandparents told another grandparent off for pushing in. Now every one is too scared to jump the queue. The disgruntled grandparent told me after what had happened and I had to agree with her after all we would correct a child that did this.

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Hopefully your appraisals and customer care training will bring in some ideas from the staff ( if it's their idea it will work better).

 

How about a short questionairre to parents asking them ways in which they would like you to communicate with them, ie: a tick list of different methods, as each parent will have a preferred method, you may be able to plan your methods from this information. Ask them what they would like to know about ( they may not know !!! )

Newsletters

Talk with keyworker drop off time

Talk with keyworker collection time

Home / preschool notebook / diary

Notices / letters

telephone call morning / afternoon

informal chat (as and when available)

appointment

e:mail

any other methods you can think of...

parents may tick more than one method.

 

I did this last year and was amazed that 40% of parents used their e:mail regularly so now send newsletters this way (saves on printing / paper as well..and I know they get them and they don't get lost)

 

Peggy

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I think the use of email is an excellent option. I am going to include email on our contact sheet. Thanks who ever mentioned it. :)

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I found with new or inexperienced staff, they were just unsure of what to say to parents whilst keeping the "friendly, approachable but professional" balance. I suggested that each member of staff worked out one thing to say to each of her keyworker children's parents at picking up time. That way, each member of staff only had to remember 6 or so things! Simple things to start off with, like "I really enjoyed sharing a book with Tom on the comfy sofa today; he could point to the words as I was reading them". As the members of staff got more confident, this kind of exchange really took off, and, as mentioned above, it's difficult to get the parents and carers off the premises now! :o

As for newsletters, invoices, party invitations between children, etc, we have two fabric shoe-tidy things hanging up, where each pocket has a child's laminated name velcroed (is that a word?!) to it. At the end of each session, we can see at a glance who hasn't taken the stuff home! We have a real "I 've lost my socks!" problem at nursery, and these pockets are great for putting those in too xD

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I am a registered childminder but use a variety of contact methods, as even with our setting we may have 6/7 sets of parents all arriving at the same time! We use newsletters 1/2 termly for general information, and daily diaries for specific information and requests for appointments etc.

We also use an idea which we have recently 'borrowed' :o from the local secondary school, using moble phone texts. In the days of mobile phones being widely used, we have discovered this to be quite successful for requesting appointments etc with parents and delivering important but not urgent information. This may not be practical in really big settings but smaller preschools could use this for urgent information that may not have been passed on at handover time.

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