As the holiday memories begin to fade and we focus on the year ahead, an important part of the next few weeks is providing a thoughtful and stress-free welcome for parents and families as they return or start at your early learning service.
This blog post shares some of the most successful tips and techniques practised by leading educators using Storypark.
Effectively welcoming and educating parents is an important step in helping set expectations and build trust and confidence in your relationship.
Services using Storypark have many innovative ways of communicating with parents, including:
- Writing private messages welcoming parents, asking questions about the families culture and context to learn more about the child, and answering any initial questions in a non-threatening, non-confrontational way (important for less confident parents) within a Storypark conversation.
- Sharing short videos or photos of a child’s first few days at a centre to show parents that their child is happy and settling in – reassuring them and getting rid of any worries or guilt they might be feeling.
- Sending regular community posts with news and information for children new to the centre through a Storypark conversation.
- Creating a new Storypark community for children on their waiting list and sharing notices, news and messaging parents through this community. By creating a separate Storypark community for children on the waiting list, parents feel included, experience the centres commitment to including them in their child’s learning and can start building a picture of their child within Storypark before the child actually starts at your centre – all done without being able to see information about other children.
- Some early learning services encourage parents to sign up during the first tour of their centre sharing the message that “our service is so committed to providing the most personalised experience for your child and including you in that journey that we use Storypark. It’s free for you to use for the lifetime of your child and is a record which travels with them. You’ll be able to look back on your child’s development for years to come.
Sonya McIntyre of Owhiro Bay Kindergarten describes one of their techniques:
“Educators share a photo of themselves and a short introduction to parents. As the enrolment process is often dealt with by the head teacher/manager, introducing yourself in this way is a great start to building a relationship with the family. Also if there are 2 parents, but you often don’t see one, it is a nice way to make BOTH parents feel involved, and like they know you.
We also encourage them to add some photos of family, pets and people or things that are important in their child’s life as this then helps us get to know more about their child when they officially begin. We also think it then helps the family take ownership of their child’s profile, rather than view it as only being about the child’s life at kindergarten. This is so important to us, as we have found that some families are reluctant to add photos and stories that they are unable to explain with an educational lens.”
Shirley Fyfe, an Educator from Victoria, Australia says
“Once families were enrolled at our service, they were invited to attend our annual Information Night in November last year where we shared quite a bit of information about using Storypark. We distributed one of the Storypark flyers & did a brief talk about how Storypark works & the benefits that it brought to our program & to our relationships with the children themselves & all our families. An Orientation Afternoon was held later in that same month where children & families could come & spend a couple of hours at the kindergarten. Children’s learning & development was mostly discussed BUT a few questions about Storypark also arose & many families indicated that they were looking forward to seeing how it all worked.”
When parents first get started with Storypark they usually want to know:
- why you are implementing Storypark
- how it will benefit their child’s learning
- who owns children’s information
- how much it will cost them (nothing!)
- how private and secure Storypark is
- what they have to do next.
- how to invite family members
This document is designed for you to share with parents to help answer these initial questions. We have also created an email template you can adapt and send to parents to let them know more about Storypark, and a suite of articles and videos to help parents which are available here.
Do you have children moving to new rooms in your service this year? Find out how to easily move plans between rooms here.
If parents have additional questions about security and privacy here are some key points:
- Storypark uses global security and privacy best practices which have been independently audited by PriceWaterhouseCoopers
- Storypark’s servers are based in Sydney, Australia and we comply with Australia Privacy Principles, New Zealand Privacy law, and other specific privacy laws in North America
- Parents have the right to delete all their child’s information off Storypark if they wish. Storypark does not retain any information if they do so (Educators can keep an offline backup for their records). Storypark also has this section in our help centre just for parents that you can refer them to should they seek further information. (Note: Sometimes parents might be web developers or experts in digital security. These people often ask much more technical questions, including around privacy and security. If you have parents that want specific technical information just connect them with us by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org). To help you get the most out of your use of Storypark for parents, there are also graphics you can use on your website, posters and you can put up in your centre.
If you’re not using Storypark yet but would like to be welcoming parents and families to your centre using some of these ideas, you can create a free trial here. We’d also love to hear from you in the comments, what are some of the ways you help families feel welcome in your practice?