Is the quality of your service delivery being communicated effectively, understood by your families and echoed throughout your community? In the early learning environment, quality communication is vital in building the trust that forms meaningful & respectful relationships within your centre.
There are many different aspects to communication in the early learning environment. However, today we will explore how communication in relation to technology, educators, families and your early learning centre can help sustain and improve occupancy levels.
We are currently living in the digital age, where communication is instantaneous and can reach you in various ways. Many early learning centres are moving on from traditional forms of communication and are utilising text, emails, e-newsletters and social media to communicate with their parents and families.
However, we believe that early learning centres who rely heavily on technology to communicate are at a greater risk of disconnect with their staff, families and community. Finding the balance between digital and face-to-face communication in your early learning environment is crucial for ensuring effective delivery of all communication.
By becoming dependent on the use of technology for communication within your centre, you are depriving parents and families of the warmth of eye contact, tone of voice, body language and facial expressions – some may feel this is impersonal.
The correct implementation of both digital and face-to-face communication can prove to be successful and parents will select to use whichever suits their needs and circumstances at a particular time.
However, the key is delivering both digital and face-to-face communication as options with quality communication.
Consider the families that attend your early learning environment, do they all communicate with you in the same way? Of course not! With different families attending your centre, also comes different methods of preferred and culturally appropriate communication.
What do we mean by different methods of preferred communication? Some parents may prefer a phone call, some will choose to be emailed and some will still prefer a face-to-face conversation. Make time to touch base with all of your families to enquire what their preferred method of communication is – offer them options and discuss alternative methods.
Delivering quality communication with your families, will not only help improve the delivery of your service, it will also encourage families to share your centres best practice within your local community.
Remember – your families are your best advocates for the quality of service and care you deliver. The 2015 Nielsen Global Trust in Advertising report states that, 92 per cent of consumer’s trust recommendations from friends and family, above all other forms of advertising.
However, if you neglect to communicate effectively with your current and potential families, it could have a detrimental effect on the ability of your service to sustain and increase enrolments.
Educators of all levels should continually be reflecting and developing their own personal & professional communication skills. This will contribute towards building positive partnerships & relationships with families and the extended early education community.
The ability of educators to confidently discuss and promote their centres philosophy, policies and the standards set by regulatory authorities within their early learning community will create opportunities for engagement with colleagues, families and outside professionals.
Remember, most people will form an opinion of you within the first three seconds of meeting you. It is vital, that in those first three seconds of meeting a new parent and family that educators create a positive image of not only themselves but the early learning centre they are representing.
One idea to help develop the communication skills of educators is to have role play sessions during staff meetings. It is an excellent opportunity for the more experienced communicators within your educational environment to mentor staff who may be experiencing challenges with face-to-face/verbal communication.
The early learning centre
High occupancy is a clear indicator from families that they are happy with the early childhood education and care you are providing for their child.
As we enter the final quarter of 2016, enrolments for 2017 will become a focus for owners, directors and educators. Before potential parents visit your centre, they will have viewed your website, your social media pages, and those of your competitors.
When they visit your centre, they will expect to be welcomed, they will expect eye contact, they will expect meaningful conversation that projects the quality of the education and care you are providing.
The association or mention of the words ‘for profit’ and ‘early childhood education’ in the same context doesn’t sit well with some in the wider early education family. However, businesses have to be profitable to run effectively.
High occupancy is a clear statement by families that they are happy with the care and education you are providing for their children regardless of the distribution of profits within the business. Good communication is a contributing factor in profitability of any business.
In the environment of early childhood education, it becomes a flow on effect:
The use of informative, timely and quality communication in early childhood should focus on building loyalty and trust with parents, families and your local community. By successfully developing and implementing communication strategies & goals, it will set the foundation for sustaining and improving your occupancy levels.
We believe by finding the balance in your early childhood environment, utilising both digital and face-to-face communication, it will create positive outcomes in maintaining and increasing family involvement.
However, we believe nothing will ever replace a good conversation!
© Committed to Childcare Conferences 2016