For any Early Years Setting (EYS) to be successful, enrollment and retention must be as close to 100 per cent as possible. The issue of retention is easy to talk about and describe, but for some EYS, the solution to the retention problem is elusive.
With ChildDiary you can easily share each child daily record and communicate privately with parents.
To understand the problem, the first step is to understand why parents choose one childcare setting over another in the first place. Seven primary factors influence this decision:
- Recommendations and referrals
- Adult/Child ratio
- EYS/Parent Communication
Your EYS can control some of these factors more than others, and all parents are different – location may be a deal-breaker for some and a non-issue for others. At a high level, however, three of these even factors fall under a single umbrella: communication.
Why Retention Fails
Teacher/parent communication, reputation, and recommendations are referrals are all communication issues. When EYS provide too little information to parents, don’t update parents about news and events, or fail to provide progress reports, parents are motivated to enrol their children elsewhere.
To make matters worse for your EYS, parents share their experiences with other, so communication issues with one child can compound into multiple enrolment losses. And there’s always a danger of misinformation: if you don’t put the right message about your childcare setting out into the world, someone else may put the wrong one out for you.
The Source of the Communication Gap
In the Early Years Sector, a parent’s perception is everything. If parents perceive that their child is slow to hit age-appropriate milestones or in not integrating well with other children, it’s easy for them to question whether experts tasked with the child’s preschool education are effective at their jobs. When one parent starts questioning, others are likely to follow. This is why parental education and engagement is key.
This occurs with misinformation, too. A misinformed belief or distorted perception will plant a seed of doubt in parents, causing them to question your staff’s abilities. If one doubtful parent shares her thoughts with a friend, the friend may start to scrutinizing his experience at your EYS as well: “I heard this was happening, so I’m moving my child.” It is one of the most frustrating things any EYS can hear.
Take Control of Your Communications
Any EYS can send home a newsletter and end-of-the-week progress report. The school that actually customizes communication between parents and teachers is the one that will stand out. Direct and frequent communication is the only way for both sides – parents and teachers – to know how a child is progressing, or where they’re getting stuck.
The fact is, no parents want to take their children out of EYS they have carefully selected. Prior to enrollment, moms and dads hone in on a location-a neighborhood that is either convenient for its proximity to home or work. They have a budget, they’re aware of the adult-to-child ratio, and they research the curriculum. It’s a big decision, and moving a child to a different EYS means disrupting his early education and care, breaking crucial foundational relationships with teachers and peers.
Nevertheless, the communication issues outlined above have the power to derail the early childhood education and care process. Maintaining your reputation and perfecting your communication strategy can create and solidify trust between your administration and parents, which is the bedrock that shapes an experience that parents value.
It’s up to you to take control of the information (or misinformation) shared about your EYS.