Part Two: For Caregivers
OUR COMMUNICATION PLAN OF ACTION
No matter your size, one of the biggest challenges in center base care is COMMUNICATION. Everyone agrees- only through communication can one provide for the individualized care and attention a young child away from her family deserves.
Sometimes the drive to communicate with mom, with dad, with grandparent, with nanny, with playdate provider, with after school help, with substitutes, with administration, with each other….. Well, it can be a balancing act for sure.
Communication works best when it’s a team effort supported by parent, teacher and administration affording all parties to stay connected and active in the care and well being of each child. One way caregivers can help facilitate the communication process involves cultivating an attitude with parents from the start. We like to link new families with these suggestions: https://mmpschool.wordpress.com/2014/03/26/dear-parent-on-communication/
Likewise, caregivers shouldn’t wait to communicate when a need arises, but invest in caring for the communication process even prior to a new child’s enrollment.
June 1st marks the enrollment of several new families at the center, and so we decided to revisit the Communication Plan of Action-
1. Primary Initial Phone Call – Once class lists are generated, the communication is turned over from administration to the primary caregiver. Approximately a month before a child begins visiting the center, his primary teacher will reach out by phone for introductions, general Q & A, and confirm a series of center visits with parent and child. We have found this approach to be more open and informative then home visits.
2. Center Visits- Often referred to as the “warm-In”, parent and child coordinate an individual to small group series of visits as they become accustomed to the center culture. Enrollment forms necessary to have on file for each child may be completed together by parent and teacher. This helps break the ice in the new relationship and further foster the partnership between parent and teacher.
3. Communication Log- Once a week, plan to for a 5 minute touch base in person at drop off or pick up . If scheduling prevents you from seeing your parent once a week, try planning for regular phone contact, even if it’s just to say “hi.” Keep a record of your time together to help ensure that you are reaching family under your care and to look for reoccurring themes in your communication over time.
4. After three weeks, introduce parents to the quarterly parent community meetings and ask that they attend. Have a schedule in place for them and for the office. Let the parent know that if they have any questions, to drop you an email at the office and you will contact them within 24 hours. Also, let them know when to expect individual Parent/Teacher Conference. Often times this information is overwhelming when a new family is starting at the center. Wait to share until after things have settled down from the new school transition.
5. Continue to touch base proactively at least 5 minutes each week in person. Consider a 15 minute phone proactive contact every three months outside the Community Meetings and Parent/Teacher Conferences. Some parents will naturally keep you in the communication loop- others might be holding off or not wanting to disturb you to share information. Touching base individually for a slightly more extended time away from children will ensure that no matter your parent’s communication style, family and teacher will be moving forward collaboratively.
It is rare that a community enjoying a Cooperative Communication Relationship will find themselves at odds and in emotion if a concern arises. Still, be prepared if a parent approaches you angry or upset. Ruptures in the relationship are natural and bound to happen on occasion. Approach them with sensitivity that the repair process is an opportunity to learn and deepen that relationship knowing that the seeds you have sown in cultivating communication will fuel the process.