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How to Welcome Families Back to In-Person Childcare

How to Welcome Families Back to In-Person Childcare

How to Welcome Families Back to In-Person Childcare

Over the past year, many childcare centers and preschools have operated at reduced capacities or switched to distance learning due to COVID-19. But now that more families are becoming vaccinated and returning to work, you may have incoming children who are coming back to in-person care for the first time in many months! 

Because each child and parent will have different feelings about returning to your center, part of your job is to make their transition as gentle and positive as possible. Here are 10 ideas for helping families feel safe, comfortable, and prepared for coming back to in-person care at your childcare center or preschool.

  1. 1. Send a video walkthrough of your center

If it’s been a while since families have been inside your facilities (or you have new families who have never visited), send them a video walkthrough of your center. Include clips of your classrooms, outdoor play areas, and drop-off and pick-up areas. This can help parents remember where to go and get reacquainted with some of your program’s procedures. A walkthrough video can also get children excited to learn and play at your center again! 

    1. 2. Send video greetings from your teachers

    Families will be eager to hear from their teachers before returning to your program. Have your teachers record short videos (under 1 minute) to welcome parents and children back! 

    Here are some tips for what to include in the video greetings:

    • Have the teacher introduce themself and something they love about school, such as their favorite book or activity.
    • Personalize the video for each child, and make sure the teacher says the student’s name and how excited they are to meet them.
    • Remind teachers to smile big and be genuinely excited. These emotions will carry through on video and help families feel more at ease! 

    Alternatively, you could also have teachers schedule FaceTime or Zoom calls with families. These calls should also be short, between 5-10 minutes long, and focused on making introductions and getting children excited about returning to your program.

    3. Teach a song that children sing in class

  1. Another easy way to help children transition back is to send home the words to a song (or a few songs) that they’ll be singing in class. Record a video of a teacher singing the song or link to a YouTube video of it. You can even encourage parents to sing the song at home and practice it with their children. Your children will feel more comfortable on the first days of school if they’re already familiar with some of your curriculum! 

  3. Tip: with brightwheel, you can easily send videos and photos to families all within the app, making parent communication a breeze! 

  4. Brightwheel. can help you transition families back to in-person child care!
    1. 4. Provide parents with some talking points

    Send parents a tip sheet of things to talk about as their child gets ready to start school. 

    The sheet can include:

    • Their teacher’s name
    • How many children are in the class
    • Some of the activities they have to look forward to
    • Behavior reminders

    You can also remind parents that they don’t need to cover all the information at once, as this may be overwhelming for their child. Instead, they should share details little by little leading up to the first day of school, so children have time to absorb it all.

    1. 5. Coach parents on how to talk about feelings

  5. Give parents a heads-up that children may have a lot of feelings as they prepare for school and during the first few days and weeks of returning to your center. 

    Advise parents to avoid “feeding” children feelings, or telling them how they may feel, such as, “You may feel nervous.” Instead, parents should ask open-ended questions and let children tell them how they’re feeling. You can also encourage parents to use puppets or pretend play if children are reluctant to talk about their emotions. 

    1. 6. Share some school scenarios with parents

    You can also give parents some example scenarios that come up at school to practice at home with their child. 

    Some example scenarios include:

    • How to invite another child to play
    • What to do if you didn’t understand the instructions for an activity
    • What to do if you feel sad or scared
    • How to ask if you can share a toy with another child

    If you have families who are starting childcare or preschool for the first time, it may be helpful to include a sample script for each scenario for them to follow.

    1. 7. Ask families to practice a special drop-off goodbye

  6. Drop-offs can be hard for both parents and children, and your drop-off setup may look different for families who haven’t attended in-person childcare since before COVID-19. Special goodbyes can help make drop-off less scary for children (and less stressful for adults)!

    Remind families to keep the drop-off goodbye short, such as a big hug and a high-five or a secret handshake. By practicing it beforehand, children will feel more familiar with it when it comes time to say goodbye for real! 

  8. Tip: with brightwheel, you can send messages and attachments (like a tip sheet) to prospective and waitlisted families with a click of a button. 

  9. Brightwheel can help you transition families back to in-person care with parent messaging!
    1. 8. Assign buddy families for summer playdates

    Invite your current families to volunteer to be “buddies” with incoming families. You can match up families who live nearby or have something in common, such as the age of their children. Ask your current families to reach out and introduce themselves a few weeks before the new families start so they can set up a playdate. This way, the new child will already have a friend in class before school begins! 

    1. 9. Create an “All About Me” book to keep in the classroom

    Ask parents to send you family photos and other pictures of their child’s favorite things, such as pets and toys. Print these images out and create a special page for each student, then compile all the pages into one book to keep in your classroom. When children get sad or homesick during school, they can instantly flip to their “All About Me” page for comfort! 

    1. 10. Host a welcome party before the school year begins

    A week or two before your first day of school, invite current and incoming families to a welcome party, such as a picnic or a barbecue. This will help both parents and children connect with one another and set the tone for a great school year ahead. Don’t forget to invite your teachers, too! 

  11. For more ways to connect with parents, check out our 10 Ways to Boost Family Participation at Your Childcare Center or Preschool.
  12. Additional resources for welcoming families back to your center

    To learn more about how to build trust with children and parents for a great transition back to in-person care, check out our additional articles and trainings: 

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