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How to retain your nursery parents and boost parent partnerships in the early years

11 min of reading
10 July 2023
retain your nursery parents - cover image

What’s the secret to a good parent partnership in the early years? The answer is happy children. Parents who feel like their child is happy, supported and well-cared for will remain with the nursery. Happy parents share positive stories about their child’s progress via word of mouth, leading to a nursery full of satisfied, loyal families. But how do you boost parent partnerships in the nursery? We share creative ways to engage your parents.

In this article, you will find:

    How to help children settle into nursery

    Moving onto the happy children, we talk of, settling in anxious children (and their parents) can be tricky. Apart from extended family and friends’ houses, EYFS settings are often the first place children experience without their parents. Joining a nursery is a big step for parents and children alike. Helping babies and toddlers experience a smooth transition into the early years is no easy feat. So, how do we help to settle children into the nursery routine?

    Getting to know your key worker children

    A well-timed conversation about Chase from PawPatrol or suggesting to water the sunflowers on arrival can motivate even the most reluctant toddlers. Knowing your key worker children’s interests, likes, and dislikes is essential to building positive relationships. Blossom’s Child Profile allows new information to be added from parents and practitioners. Knowledge is power; you never know when you may need to break into song from their favourite Disney movie to help settle when they feel nervous.

    EYFS routines for children

    We all know how important a routine is for an infant (and an adult!) Keeping structured routines in the nursery setting can help set children’s expectations. For example, if they know that you finish with a tidy-up song at the end of every day and then story time, this helps them transition from nursery to home. Notifying parents of important routine information such as nappy changes, nap times and food intake via a Child’s Diary can help maintain a steady home routine.

    SEND and additional needs in EYFS

    Children with additional needs or SEND may find the transition between home and nursery more challenging than others. By recognising patterns of anxious behaviour and recording them in the Observation Tracker, practitioners can adapt to the day to meet their needs. An example of this may be making sure your nursery operates Autism-friendly approaches. When their child’s needs are recognised and accommodated, parents feel supported and reassured that their child is understood and well-cared for.

    Getting the right balance of challenge in the early years

    Dr Dunster-Page mentions the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) in our recent article unpicking child development theories. Getting the balance between child-led and adult-led learning with young children is a trial-and-error process. How much support is too much?

    How do you challenge the children without overwhelming them? There is no black-and-white answer for this. It relies on secure relationships with the children, knowing their learning comfort zones and facilitating challenges that stretch their skills just enough.

    How to interact with nursery parents

    Your setting is now full of happy, supported children and babies-perfect! But how do you positively interact with EYFS parents so that they also feel supported? Communication, of course.

    Most parents use modern technology, such as smartphones, as their primary method of communication. Your setting may have already realised the easy-win for communication by using nursery software to interact with your parents. With the busy lives your families lead and the increase in nursery funding for working parents, having online communication methods can help to boost relationships with your parents. There are lots of different ways you can get creative to interact positively with nursery families.

    In-app communication

    Two-way communication features in nursery software are the easiest method of solving simple queries and questions between the nursery and home. Having the option to comment on pictures and videos shared via the Blossom Parent App can bring multiple family members together, celebrating the learning achievements together, virtually.

    Nursery newsletters

    A round-up of the latest news, useful articles to share, and upcoming events is an excellent way to keep parents happy and involved in the nursery community. You can share these newsletters via your nursery software; several close family members can be included in the mailing list for family inclusivity.

    Early years settings and social media platforms

    Nurseries commonly use Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram to celebrate and share their exciting learning adventures. However, this public platform does come with potential safeguarding concerns and can cause nursery managers and owners to choose safe, enclosed social media-style newsfeeds. Social media can be utilised to market your childcare setting effectively if used carefully. A newsfeed with relevant information about children’s trips out, story times and tips for improving language development can purposefully engage parents.

    Stay-and-play session ideas for nurseries

    There is nothing that demonstrates how settled a child is in their nursery setting than parents being able to witness it for themselves. Organising stay-and-play sessions regularly allows parents and close relatives to see how confident, enthusiastic and happy a child is with the staff and children in their room. Giving guidance for new parents on ideas how to play with their baby and toddler can be gratefully received. Here are a few of our favourite stay-and-play session ideas for you to try:

    How to retain parents and boost parent partnerships in early years

    Parents supporting your setting’s ethos, values and curriculum implementation will likely stay loyal, valued customers. But parent partnerships can always be strengthened. A secure parent-nursery partnership helps children to progress to achieve their outcomes and gives them an excellent start in their educational, social and emotional journey. What boosts effective parent partnerships, and how do we continuously improve these across the EYFS setting?

    Make parents feel included in the learning process

    You are the early years’ experts, and the parents are the experts on their child. Together you have the dream team for progress and development! Making parents feel involved in the learning process is essential for building a strong nursery community. After all, it takes a village to raise a child; parents that feel they have a say in the learning process are more likely to be actively engaged in their child’s development.

    Personalise your nursery offer

    Think of a secondary school setting; personalised is not often the first descriptor that comes into your head. In contrast, nurseries are intimate and nurturing. Smaller settings where parents are known by name and their child is uniquely different rather than lost in a crowd of children. Celebrate the closeness nursery settings offer and make parents feel individually valued. One way your nursery team may choose to do this is to use the commenting system to reply to uploaded home observations. Recognition of a family forest walk or practice with gross motor skills at home through liking and commenting as a child’s key worker can help a parent feel valued.

    Sympathise with busy family schedules

    Drop-off and pick-up times can be chaotic. Parents have places to be, and the time spent at the nursery and with your staff can be brief. Online communication platforms can help forge strong working relationships even around busy family schedules. Don’t forget that advertising your nursery’s communication methods can help to convert parents to customers during prospective walkarounds. Good communication can often be the deciding factor for childcare provision choice.

    Make interactions easy for parents

    Online nursery invoicing systems, virtual payment methods (BE-Paid), and extra session requests on short notice all help to make interactions easy for busy parents. Partnerships with parents can be improved by recognising the need to have all interactions in one place. Occasionally parents may need support with transferring to new nursery software; help your families with parent set-up guides to make the transition smooth.

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