Running a child care center is a big responsibility. There are many state and local laws that govern your actions. There may be corporate policies as well. You have your own rules. Is there room for parent input? Let’s take a quick look at the pros and cons of including parents in your center activities.
- Parents will feel invested in the center and will be less likely to look for another center.
- Parents will be more likely to talk to you about any issues they have instead of talking poorly about you in the community.
- Parents could have some good suggestions for your center.
- Parents may be willing to volunteer their services, adding some extra hands.
- Parents will have a more realistic understanding of the daily activities and the behavior of their child during the day.
- Parents may feel they have they may have more input than you want them to have.
- Children may act out when their parents are in the center.
- Staff may feel intimidated by parents watching them discipline their child.
- Parents may be disruptive by distracting the staff, ignoring the schedule, or inappropriately disciplining children.
- Parents may carry information out of the center into the community that is somewhat confidential.
So, you get the idea. There are probably as many pros as cons. Now it is up to you to determine if including parents in the center is an idea that will work for you.
If you decide it will, which would be my personal preference, you will be wise to set up a lot of boundaries before you open the doors. It will help staff, parents and children not to unknowingly step over the line.
- Very clearly determine what parents can and cannot do. Getting staff input on compiling this list will be helpful.
- Set up a “trial” event to see how it goes. For example, suggest a one-time activity that will last for a week. This will give you an opportunity to evaluate potential problems.
- Invite parents to participate in by giving them a very clear description of what they are invited to do and when.
- Evaluate the successes and needs of the trial event.
- Repeat with edits.
My experience was that parents were very surprised to see what an actual day in the center entailed. It is quite different from a half-hour birthday party! They were much more supportive of the staff and all that is involved in a day in a child care center.