Jump to content
Home
Forum
Join Us
Articles
About Us
Tapestry

Aarrrrghhh! Just Can't Please Parents!


Guest
 Share

Recommended Posts

Sorry, need to offload!!

 

I've been chair for about 2 years now and in that time I have helped our setting build a garden, create a new outdoor space by purchasing barriers, move to having 3 full time staff, move to opening 5 days a week and an afternoon from only 4 mornings, update planning methods, write a business plan, create a cash flow and win a £2.5k grant from the LEA (that last bit was me and me alone!) plus much much more.

 

Although my own children no longer go to the setting, I have agreed to stay on and help because I have a lot of respect for the leader who has helped me build up the setting in partnership and who is really committed to the preschool. At the last AGM, only 8 people attended, 3 of those were staff, the other 5 are now the committee officers.

 

I've just started to receive returns from a parent questionnaire and they STILL aren't happy!! If anything, the results are slightly worse than last year. Don't get me wrong, they are not bad, everyone is ticking 'good' for most things. But the same old complaints are still there, despite all the things we've done to address them.

 

There seem to be two main concerns:

 

1. They don't know enough about what their children are doing at preschool.

 

We've addressed this in the past by - creating a website, termly newsletter, parent conferences twice a year, learning profiles in children's drawers and can be taken home. Staff are always willing to talk with parents if they want.

 

I've just created a board about 'what we are learning at preschool' and we are planning to hold a parent workshop after half term (which I bet will be poorly attended). I used to do a weekly breakdown of what specific activities were going on, but I just can't dedicate the time to that anymore, I have my own job to do. Parents are very unwilling to come in and work as parent helpers, no matter what we try, which would be one great way to see what their children are doing. My question now is: WHAT MORE CAN WE DO!!!

 

2. The learning isn't structured enough - why aren't they being pushed to sit down and write their names - the age old complaint!!

 

What can I say to that one? We do give them info about the EYFS, we can't force them to read or understand it. Again hopefully the parent workshop will address that.

 

To be honest I think the more you do, the more parents expect. If I was paid to do all this, or if my children were still at the setting, or if anyone ever just said thank you, I wouldn't mind. But to be honest I think most of them are oblivious to all the effort and time I (and my leader) put in.

 

:o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I do understand all that, you are definitely not alone!

On top of a lot of that I had some of the more important people in the village saying that they would happily throw us out of our building "even if that meant we went out of business"!

We have been very lucky to move into the school where everyone has been wonderful to us and the parents are much more impressed, at the moment anyway!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

These are the two things that are always brought up by our parents so you are not alone. We even have a board that shows the adult led activities that have been planned each day, we do half-termly newsletters, twice yearly parent/keyperson meetings and a yearly parent information evening but still parents want to know more

 

 

AAAAAAARRRRRRRRRRRRRGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So glad to know I'm not alone!

 

The irony is that, when I was a parent of a child at the setting, I always ticked 'outstanding' in every box on the questionnaire, because I knew it was a great way to thank staff for all their hard work.

 

At the very least I would have expected parents to tick outstanding for the quality of care, I can't see how we could get any better at that.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is this just one or two parents or a majority? Sometimes we focus on those little niggles which you will always get but in the grand scheme of things are small in number (but still irritating).

 

Suzie, could you try and unpick exactly what information they feel you are not giving them, perhaps in response to the questionnaire along the lines of you acknowledge the comments and would like ideas as to what sort of information they feel they would like that they are not getting.

 

Sometimes batting things back can make people think about exactly what it is they want.

 

 

And of course you're not alone, it's that cant please all the people all the time thing isnt it?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Suzie - how frustrating for you.....

 

Here's my suggestion - for what it's worth......

 

Dear xxxxxxxx,

Thank you so much for returning your questionnaire, we value your input.

I am a little surprised that you feel that you do not have enough information with regard to what your child is enjoying and achieving at pre-school. Surprised because, I feel, that we have so many systems in place i.e. our website, termly newsletters, bi-annual parent conferences, your child's Learning profile which is available for you to read, either at the setting or, if you prefer, to take home, the 'what we are learning board at pre-school' board and of course, the opportunity to come into our setting to work alongside your child and pre-school staff - this is a wonderful way to ensure that you are familiar with the pre-school routine and activities.

I would really value your further input with this matter, I wonder if you could suggest a way that we might improve our communication with parents.

 

Staple that to the questionnaire and keep on file - obviously sending a copy home ........bet you don't hear another word - but you have shown that you have addressed their 'concerns'.........

 

If you come up with a 'solution' re. the not structured enough - please share it :o I'm sure we have all heard that one!!!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Sunny, I should employ you as our official letter writer!

 

I was so frustrated that I spent the morning making a large display saying pretty much what you had said in your reply.

 

How mad am I? :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks Sunny, I should employ you as our official letter writer!

 

I was so frustrated that I spent the morning making a large display saying pretty much what you had said in your reply.

 

How mad am I? :o

 

Oh - would I get paid? :(xD

 

You're not mad at all, I wouldn't be able to just 'ignore' these parents with a 'problem' either! :(

Link to comment
Share on other sites

i agree it is so frustrating, we do exactely the same and have the same complaints, but the ones saying we dont do enough never turn up and we cannot pin them down for parents appointments!

 

was told this week by a parent that i was talking to about thier childs poor behavaiour that it is because we dont make him sit and learn, he is very bright and sees us like friends not teachers!

 

constantly telling parents why we dont sit and teach and how this is not dont even in year r, why we dont seem to have structure!

 

oh well, some people will never be happy

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Same old, same old Suzie. I've had it for years.

The parents who complain that tHey dont get given enough information are the very ones who dont read newsletters, web sites, notice boards, they are the ones who dash in and out so dont have time to speak to staff too.

Do what sunnyday suggests. If your questionaires are annonymous just put out a letter thanking everyone for their wonderful support but that the one or two negative comments can be addressed like this. Then tell them everything you do to communicate. Ask or constructive ideas on how parents can be made to read the notices available and if you get any answers that work let me know.

I feel for you, honestly. :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

perhaps you need to take a different approach to your questionnaires? if you feel that you have done enough then perhaps explore some other areas of your provision and question them about that instead ....remember you cant please all of the people all of the time! :o how about two stars and a wish format which is what we now do tends to concentrate on what you are doing right not wrong....find it gives more positive feedback and the suggestions are really helpful rather than just critical

Link to comment
Share on other sites

The only thing to add to the above Suzie - which is brilliantly supportive and I would agree with everyone, is change the format of your questionnaire! Ask either more specific questions or drop the ones which invite the parents to be negative :o

 

The old structure one appears to me to be parents repeating each other's comments, they don't know what to say, but have heard others say it before. I often ask parents when they are viewing our pre-school what their understanding of "structure" is when they ask, "so what structured activities do you have?" Now I say that we have scaffolded activities, where the children are fullly supported by adults in what they are learning and how they like to learn.

 

I seem to remember some years ago that some Committee run pre-schools made it a condition that parents would help out at least once per term - are you not allowed to do that any longer?

Edited by Panders
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi and just to agree you can't please everybody all the time with all the best intentions in the world. xD

I have just sent out a questionaire with specific questions for them to answer, and a section for any other ideas, thoughts and comments.

Having a tick list may not encourage them to answer in a positive vane and may leave you feeling less than pleased.

One of our questions was "do you feel we provide a healthy selection of snack", one answer was "don't know what they have".

Well they do infact know what they have as we provide a parent/carer sheet each half-term stating all snacks to be offered as well as a loose link of activities their child may have the opportunity to take part in and helpful hints in what they could do to support children at home.

So don't beat yourself up over this you know how hard you jolly well work for the benefit of all the children in your care.

Sorry rant over. :(:o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Suzie

 

Same here! Sent out questionnaire online, paper copies etc and had 22 back! Most quite positive but some saying they did not know about wesbite, newsletter etc . Considering that there was a huge notice put up on the door of club about the website I feel they must be blind!!?? We actually email out as much info as we can now and this seems to be the way the parents want it.

 

Parents say they dont want tv on, kids say that this is one of the the things they really like! Parents want them to have quiet area for homework, kids say thay dont want to do their homework at club! Most complaints seem to be about the way we do our bookings as we are very busy club and have had to refuse parents some sessions last month. The fact that one of our committee was affected by this has not pleased her (why should she be any different) and she has now asked all her firends to complete the questionnaire putting this as a major gripe! Great support eh?

 

I hav already drafted a letter in response to some of the issues raised. Do you give parents a copy of the results of your questionnaire?

 

Forgot to say that one question gave details that we are committee run would close without etc .....would you be willing to think about joining the committee?.......91% said no as too busy working...what do they think the rest of us do whilst our children are at school club eh????

Edited by marley
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I don't even have the confidence to send out questionnaires - how bad is that!!

 

I know I should, but we have a very 'open door' policy and always try to verbally engage with the parents.... it's just I really can't face the 'why don't don't they sit and write names' etc comments - when I can't defend our actions with face-to-face talking.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

We too have the same moanss from parents.!

 

We started a home school diary following a questionaire this seems to be working and they are happy but I will say that only a 3rd of parents actually write anything back to us even though it was put in place as they felt they were not given enough opportunity to speak to us!!! even though we do termly key worker days, newsletters, notice board, speaking to them at the end of session.

 

 

I think that whatever we do we will always get people moan! I do not think we will ever please all parents and some of them im sure are put on this earth to annoy us ( and there was not one swear word in that sentence!!!!)

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In the years we have sent out questionnaires at school, we have found that if you give them space to comment, they will usually fill it in with something negative. Some of the sillier suggestions to how can we improve included a 15 minute appointment everyday to update them about their child's performance that day ( we worked out we would still be seeing parents at 10.45pm every night if we didn't have break!) Sometimes you get a lovely comment.

 

The HT now questions every parent about the negative comments asking them to explain themselves - interestingly they then daren't either fill one in the following year or if they do they don't put a comment. :o

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Hi Suzie,

 

Can I just add that I think you are a pretty amazing chair!!!!! Can you bottle it up and post me some????

 

 

Well done for being so pro-active, willing and interested in your pre-school.

 

:o

 

xx

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Aw thanks, I enjoy it (must truly be mad).

 

One hilarious comment was 'why don't you let the children in at 9.20 so they are settled by 9.30am.' Do they really not understand the nature of a pack away setting! It's not as though I don't ask repeatedly for them to help staff on full packaway days. I am definitely going to write a (polite) response with info about how long set up takes, risk assessments, not to mention our insurance would not cover us for that.

 

I will also look at changing the questionnaire format, which is a very good point. Like the idea of using 'two stars and a wish'!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 2 weeks later...

Just found your thread because I was searching to find discussions on exactly the same issue! I'm chair person too and have been around a long long time. We've just had our mid-year questionnaires back and, while they are mainly very positive, it is the negative comments that always stick, and it is always about feedback. We've worked out that for some it is because they are used to day nurseries where they pick up at any time and so can get daily feedback (perhaps generalised). But when 22 are picking up at the same time it is chaotic. One parent suggested we have a flexible pick up and parents can come 10 minutes earlier but then do they all expect to talk to a member of staff? Because who would be looking after the children? I really feel for the staff because it is hard to be criticised when you are working really hard and trying to be friendly to everyone.

 

We have a parent helper rota but lots of people don't come in. I think, as you say, the more you do, the more people expect. We used to be packaway and morning only, now thanks to a lot of work and a massive loan we have a lovely building and nice furniture, and so people don't feel they need to help anymore.

 

Re display boards, etc, it seems that some parents just don't see them. We have great noticeboards/display boards but had to invest in an A-style whiteboard plonked on the path where parents virtually trip over it and it is the only one they read (and some still don't). And in response to last year's feedback comments, we invested in some shelves and now put the children's files in the room above the drawers and at the entrance. Yet of the 20 odd response (about a third of everyone in preschool) several of them did not know where the files were! Um, right in front of your face ... We'd a young apprentice in recently and I mentioned this to her and she said 'How can you NOT see them?' We have the very positive parents who say they get lots of comments and feedback, we tell everyone they can book consultations whenever they want to, and then we get those who say they have not had any feedback at all. Though I think sometimes they have comments and files and newsletters and e-newsletters and display boards and chats, etc, etc, but unless they get half an hour of the manager's time then it doesn't count.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I was in playgroup last week and noticed the staff member on the door at arrivals and departures tell the parents there is a new notice on the window. Maybe a constant remnder might help, I think it has at playgroup a bit, also putting the notice on the window has helped rather than the notice board.

Honelsty dont know what else to suggest though.

Does your induction include thes things? An explanation of how they will be communicated with and what a session involves and why children arent made to sit witha pencil in hand?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find that often the comments about not knowing what their child has done, is more to do with the child not wanting to talk about their day - rather than a breakdown of what has gone on at pre-school generally.

 

I designed a form which we fill in regularly for children so that the parents know what they have been doing and have a conversation starter about something that has engaged the child that day (you could amend this to include learning outcome), it's quick and easy to fill in and the parents love it.... especially at it is from the child!

 

ask_me_about.doc

 

There are some poems here about learning through play. Thans to 'Lorna' I don't know how to link to a thread but it was in one from 2005 called "what did you learn at school? stories for parents"

 

play_peoms.doc

 

Works well for us...

 

x x x x

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue. (Privacy Policy)