The relationship between you and parents is a critical component of every center. I’m sure you have already experienced the good, the bad and the ugly of this fact. So, let me share a few thoughts about this relationship. Then, I’ll share some ideas to make it a great relationship.
Notice that the title of this article is Starting … in YOUR Child Care Center. “YOUR” is extremely important. You are the professional. You own and/or operate the center; and the center is designed for the benefit of all of the children that you serve. Therefore, you get to make the rules.
Parents can’t go to The Spaghetti Land Restaurant and demand to be served a steak. So then, why do they think they can come to your center and tell you what to put on your menu, or what rules they are willing to follow? You are the one that knows what is best in your shop!
Pre-Enrollment of the Child
The meeting you have with parents of prospective admissions to your center should not be taken lightly. This is the time when you will learn about one another and hopefully stop problems before they ever start.
Tips #1 & #2
So, my first tip is for you to be perfectly clear (with yourself) that you are in charge and you make the rules. The next tip is for you to convince parents that it is your shop and you make the rules.
This is not meant to sound harsh or arrogant. It is meant for you to own that responsibility – for the good of everyone. No one child or one family is entitled to special treatment just because they try to demand it.
When you take the time to meet with parents PRIOR to them enrolling their child, you can set expectations for everyone. This meeting should be an opportunity for you to interview them and them to interview you. IF, and only if, there is a good match (agreement that they are entering into your center with your programs and your rules), then there will be a win for you and for the family.
If you find during this meeting that there are “red flags” that you and the parents do not have the same goals or the same ideas of how to reach these goals, STOP. You need to talk more and iron out these issues before the child is accepted.
Post Enrollment of the Child
Well, you thought you had worked out all of the potential problems with parents before they enrolled their child, and things did go smoothly at first. But now, the parent read an article that gave them a different perspective of how to raise their child. You are supposed to change for their new ideas???
When you find you and the parents have different views of how their child should be functioning in your center, it is time to sit down with them – just like you did in the beginning – and review your center’s philosophy, policies and procedures.
You must again clarify that you are the professional with many years of education and experience in early childhood development. You are running your center for the benefit of all of the children enrolled in your center.
Agree to disagree if necessary and let the parents find a center that will better meet the needs of their family.
Never put yourself in a position of making a special rule for a particular parent. You will find out in a short amount of time that 30 parents will require 30 special rules.