The decision-making on where to place children in the first instance when choosing a space where to leave them for at least 8 hours a day, has a very important weight for all parents and it is essential to take them into account.
They often choose based on proximity or cost, but these are not always the factors that weigh the most.
Let’s look at some points to consider…
Based on some testimonies and research, we understand that newer families, who are now largely responsible for filling vacancies in kindergartens everywhere (parents between the ages of 25 and 40, and more than 80% are new parents), show that they value and consider different factors.
So what does this generation look for in their childcare choices that differ from the old school?
For starters, millennials are known as “digital natives.” This means that they were created in a time of great use of technologies. They share parts of their lives on social media and have a loving and trusting relationship with their smartphones.
92% own smartphones and statistics show that most sleep with them. But what does the smartphone connection have to do with the attraction of mothers and fathers to their child care?!
After reading this article, you will understand, without a doubt, what matters most in the parents’ decision, giving you unique tools to differentiate yourself from other institutions and professionals, and position yourself as a reference in the eyes of the families of your area or school.
What are the choice topics of parents for the institution of their children?
Families work longer and longer hours, and that is why it is not surprising that they find it more difficult to decide which school to entrust their children’s education to, since that is where they will spend most of their days.
In order to understand which factors most influence parents when choosing an institution, a questionnaire was carried out with around 3000 parents of children aged between 4 months and 5 years.
In addition to costs, other factors emerged with as much or more relevance in the responses received by parents.
The team of professionals is one of the major criteria that is repeatedly found in our research. Parents regularly ask about the varsity team. They want to know the qualifications of the professionals, the pedagogical models they implement and how they involve families.
In addition, parents raise issues such as turnover rate and adult/child ratios as relevant to decision making.
Another factor that appears at the top of the list when choosing one school over another is food. For parents it is very important to know if the food used in the meals is fresh and well cooked. The variety of the weekly menus is very often taken into account by parents. With the increase in childhood obesity, this factor has also been a concern of other stakeholders in early childhood education.
Parents say they not only want to know this information for their choice of school, but they also want to know daily which meals and amounts are ingested by their students.
School regulations, especially those related to health and safety, are equally important to parents. Knowing whether or not they can take their child to school with a fever or what measures are taken to prevent accidents is, in fact, something that worries parents. Regulations concerning discipline and access to school on a day-to-day basis, the so-called “open door” policy, have also emerged quite frequently in response to this issue.
Some family members find it frustrating not being able to simply enter the schools to see the installations and works displayed on the walls and in the classrooms throughout the school year. Having to schedule a visit, sometimes weeks in advance, was referred to as something that annoys parents and contributes to a change of school.
With the most recent rules on privacy and data protection, parents are more attentive to these issues and express dissatisfaction with information sharing on social networks.
Another factor often mentioned by parents was the educational environment. In this topic, the parents indicated a set of criteria such as:
- the way the teacher interacts with each child;
- the way the adults interact with each other, how happy the child is at school;
- the pedagogical coordination posture as well as the benefits that the school offers.
As benefits, we understand the diversity of materials and toys and spaces available to children as well as the aesthetic aspect of the school spaces that indicate a harmonious, calm and familiar educational environment.
In addition to these factors, but less frequently, parents also mentioned that, when choosing the school for their children, they asked the schools for more specific information such as:
- learning methods in the early years;
- school routines;
- outdoor activities;
- nap spaces;
- and the differential of each school.
Where does ChildDiary help and influence this process?
How many times have we heard “It’s time to throw away the notebooks that come and go home…”?! Today’s parents, raised in the age of technology, want convenience and comfort in transmitting information. Being able to instantly access newsletters or key information with your phone is critical, and that includes your children’s school life!
ChildDiary has been the best way to communicate with families, send messages, show curriculum framework, plans, video calls, digital authorizations, menus, routines, etc. At the level of what Early Childhood Education deserves, and what parents ask for… most check their text messages within 3 minutes of receiving them! So it’s something to consider.
Millennial parents want to know exactly what is going on with their child at daycare/preschool/after-school, in real time. All day. They are great multi-taskers and manage to stay on top of all your digital notifications even while they are at work. These parents want to be connected and informed about their children’s lives.
But ATTENTION! The purpose of digital tools like ChildDiary should never be to require you to “be prepared to send them daily sheets where they report when their children nap, what they eat and don’t forget to also add some daily fun photos and highlights” in real time.
There are limits, barriers that separate the professional from the uneventful, and the primary objective will never be to give the pedagogical team more work or invade their space, but to speed up all these processes!
We no longer live in a 9am-5pm work world and families need adjustment and flexibility. Being able to offer early, or late hours, or even service on a weekend can make a huge difference for many families. Night care is an option for some areas and there are even institutions that seek to provide this essential service to today’s families in specific areas.
So the opening and closing hours of a school, as well as the value associated with it, can dictate the difference between being the choice or not.
Contrary to the way in which current families use social networks, they highly value the safety and privacy of children, not only in the physical space, but also in terms of the GDPR and data protection. So make sure the online or digital solutions you use are secure and confidential. Data breaches and privacy concerns are common and today’s family wants to be sure they are protected.
By using ChildDiary you can show parents that you are taking their privacy and security very seriously with all the European and National standards we comply with, as well as the documentation of acceptance of the terms and conditions of use of the platform.
Show the learnings
Today’s families increasingly tend to have positive parenting attitudes and tend to be less authoritarian, so they seek child care that reflects this. Parents are not just thinking about education, but also about outcomes that will benefit their children and ultimately help them grow in terms of development. Despite the lack of knowledge of the inner world of Early Childhood Education, in which most parents are unaware of the learning to be worked on and developed, and with ChildDiary this becomes possible as most of you know, and parents love it!
Variable payment options
As we know, smartphones are currently used for everything and this is also true for budgeting and paying bills. Many parents like to receive invoices digitally, and tend to pay electronically or set up self-pay/direct debit. Not losing control over them, but streamlining and facilitating the convenience of avoiding doing it every month in a repetitive way.
Competitiveness between Parents vs. Parents as Teams
As the most educated group in history, parents of the more technological generations tend to want nothing but the best for their children, but they also expect high service and value for the money they are spending, so be prepared to set goals for your program that include preparation between school years. Tutors want to give their children a step up when it comes to education and will look for programs that tick that box.
But don’t be fooled, indoors the old idea that the mother is the main caregiver and the father is the breadwinner has disappeared. Today’s parents tend to share the burden more equitably, so traditional attitudes toward parenting roles are less tolerated. They communicate equally with both sides and never make assumptions about how the family unit works.
Isn’t it fantastic that ChildDiary gives you the power to include infinite guardians and family members?!
In conclusion, what is the top 5?
We also carried out a questionnaire to families who use the ChildDiary platform and it is, with some surprise, that we share the results.
This questionnaire aimed to understand exactly what are the most important factors in choosing an early childhood education institution for their children, as well as what would be the ideal scenario for them to feel completely calm and secure in their decision.
More than 760 parents gave their opinion, and the results are illustrative of what any setting must necessarily give priority.
To get the most specific results possible, we asked parents to choose only the top 5 factors from a list of 15 possible.
Starting with the fifth choice, let’s see what were the 5 most voted factors:
5 – Educational Project Quality
Exactly 35.5% of the parents surveyed chose this option.
Which tells us that the educational project of each institution is really taken into account by the parents, and that this influences the choice of institution for their children.
The first important point to bear in mind is the need to be completely transparent about your institution’s educational project, highlighting the areas in which it manifests itself.
Ideally, including this on your institution’s website could be something that differentiates your institution from others, facilitating the decision-making process.
On the other hand, it is important to ensure that assessments follow the instructions of the Ministry of Education, and that they are based on observations.
By doing this, families are assured that their institution actually has a quality educational project that complies with all curricular parameters.
Now, the ChildDiary platform was built with exactly this in mind: to centralize all observations on a single platform in a totally secure and GDPR-compliant way, to easily create assessments that follow the instructions of both authorities: Ministries of Education and Social Security.
4 – Regular and Effective Communication About My Children’s Daily Life
This answer was chosen by 38% of parents.
In fact, the quality and regularity of school-family communication is one of the key points for parents today.
Parents are used to having instant access to all the information they need over their phones, and it no longer makes sense to use paper, notebooks or printouts to share evidence, routines, or observations (which are all too often lost or not read).
Having a platform that allows you to communicate daily with parents in a totally secure and private way is no longer a choice: it is a need.
And in that sense, ChildDiary can help you go one step further: in addition to facilitating school-family communication, it encourages parents’ involvement in children’s education.
Pedagogical work is no longer the responsibility just of the classroom team, but a team effort between the educator and the parents…
Making the process much more efficient, avoiding communication problems, false expectations, or blame.
3 – Healthy Eating
Neither more nor less than 38.5% of parents chose this answer as one of the 3 most important factors.
In recent years we have seen a growing awareness of the importance of healthy eating in preventing health problems.
And this is just as, or more, important for parents when it comes to choosing an institution for their children.
As in the case of the educational project, including the monthly menu on your institution’s website will give greater visibility to food diversification…
It can be an important “fuse” at the time of parents’ decision.
On the other hand, the way in which daily routines are shared is extremely important, as it gives parents immediate visibility on the type of food their children have on a daily basis.
In this sense, ChildDiary includes the functionality of recording daily routines, where educators or assistants can instantly record children’s eating routines, all within a few clicks.
As a result, educators spend much less time on paperwork, and parents receive information more regularly, which reassures them and conveys daily happiness.
2 – Quality, Safety and Hygiene of the Educational Space
This factor was highly preferred by parents, having collected 46.2% of responses.
Obviously, the space where your children will spend most of their days is extremely important for parents.
As such, one of our suggestions (if you haven’t already done so) is to opt for full transparency and adopt the “open-door” policy, so that parents can freely visit their space, and not have to make appointments and wait weeks until they can.
This can often make a difference when choosing an institution.
On the other hand, the regular sharing of photos and videos of important moments of the children helps a lot in this aspect, as it gives daily visibility on the quality of the space, and again a transparency that reassures any parent.
ChildDiary, of course, includes the possibility to easily, and in a completely secure and private way, share multimedia in real time (or whenever the institution wants).
In other words, educators will no longer be dependent on printing or uploading video files that are too “heavy” on computers, being able to do so directly from their mobile phone or tablet.
As a result, educators waste much less time, settings spend less money, the environment loses fewer resources, and parents are infinitely happier to see their children regularly.
1 – Quality of the Pedagogical Team (qualifications, experience, personality)
And finally… the moment of the truth…
The majority (67.2%) chose this answer as the most important factor in choosing the institution.
In fact, the qualifications, experience and personality of the teaching team have the greatest weight in the parents’ decision.
As such, we suggest that you include on the “About Us” page of your institution’s website the qualifications of the team, as well as the recruitment process followed by your institution.
If you want to go a step further, including each team member’s individual profile, including photos, qualifications, experience, and even a simple introduction can make a big difference.
On the other hand, one of the ways that parents have to know if the pedagogical team really performs a quality work is also through audit reports/inspections carried out by the guardians.
As mentioned above, ChildDiary specializes in this aspect, so the simple fact that your institution uses ChildDiary immediately sends the right message to parents.
We conclude that parents are, more than ever, aware of the need for a high quality education from early childhood, that is not limited to the care of their children. Families look for institutions that not only respond to the individual needs of their children, but also differentiate themselves in the way they listen and communicate with parents, allowing them to actively participate in the education of their children, even if they have to spend part of the day away from them.
Family involvement thus emerges as one of the key answers for the school to satisfy parents (and influence their choice) since, when they are involved from the first day, they feel more secure with their choice and predisposed to collaborate with the pedagogical team. It is therefore essential to define private communication strategies that allow the educator and the directors to share information with families in a private way.
Choosing a digital tool like ChildDiary is, without a doubt, an option to be considered by the school as it is a pioneering tool in parental involvement.
A pioneer because it is the only one in the sector that, having been created by a kindergarten teacher, combines the benefits of reducing time and costs with the speeding up of family involvement.
76.2% of educators who use ChildDiary say that one of the most relevant benefits of using it is, in fact, parental involvement.
What do you think?
If you want to know more about how you can implement these ideas, and ensure that your institution is always the number ONE choice of families at the moment of decision…
Contact us to find out exactly how ChildDiary can help you on your setting as the only viable solution for families.