Welcoming New Families to Your Learning Service
Choosing an early childhood service is a significant decision for most parents of young children. Having strategies to make new families feel welcome and included is so important. Here are some tried and tested suggestions to help a new child and their family feel a sense of belonging in your learning service:
- Keep in mind that settling in is a process and allow extra time each day for an exchange of information that will help you develop an understanding of the child’s routines, and to develop an open and trusting relationship with the child and parents. Having an open-door policy means parents feel welcome at your centre. This will reassure them and can help to alleviate any separation anxiety a parent may experience.
- Before the child’s first day, label their cubby or hook and add their name to all relevant charts/sheets. This will support the child and family’s transition, and help them develop a sense of belonging. Ensure you have communicated the name of the child and other family members with your teaching team, along with the child’s start date. It’s equally important to take the time to introduce the family and child to any educators they may not have met during the decision making and orientation process.
- If your service uses an app like Storypark to share children’s learning with families, take time to show parents how to download the app from the app store, how to accept your invitation and how it works. Explain the benefits of using a digital documentation tool, and encourage them to share stories from home too. They can even start using Storypark before starting at your centre and build a picture of their child and family which will help you support the transition process.
Here are a few other resources about welcoming parents:
- On the child’s first day, remember to walk the parents through the sign-in process, show them where their child’s belongings are to be kept, where they can view the menu for the day, and whether there are any planned activities happening on the day. Remember, sharing your processes and systems with new families will make them feel more comfortable and included. Writing a message on your notice board is a great way to welcome new families. If English is not the families first language, take the time to search for a greeting in their own language. Consider sharing a photo, a welcome story and a short summary of their first day on Storypark. Sharing a first-day photo of them settled can decrease the parent’s anxiety of leaving their child. You could also make a quick phone call to a new parent to provide a progress update on how their child is doing.
- Inviting another parent and/or child to be a ‘welcome ambassador’ for new families is a fantastic way to help build relationships within your learning community. These trusted contacts can be a valuable source of support for parents. It’s also a great way for new children to establish relationships with their peers.
Building strong relationships with families is so important for the wellbeing of children. Strong relationships are built on trust and confidence, which is built over time by having open and honest communication and truly working in partnership with families.
Care for Kids offers families a range of resources to support and inform them through the process of choosing an early childhood service. Our comprehensive search engine ensures families can quickly and easily find high-quality local services with vacancies.
Once the research is complete and the all-important decision is made, we hand over to our amazing network of high-quality early childhood providers, to take care of the rest. Those first few days and weeks after a new family joins a service offer a valuable opportunity to build a strong and enduring relationship with both the parents and the child.