Parents have many options when evaluating childcare centers and preschools for their children to attend. And while proximity to their work and home will be crucial and cost plays a vital role in their decision-making, parents also evaluate several other factors.
The most important thing parents are looking for is the program’s quality of care. Before entrusting their child to you, parents will want to sit down and talk to administrators and teachers to learn more about who you are, what you offer, and how comfortable they believe their child will be spending the day with you.
During the initial decision-making process, parents will likely want to:
- Interview teachers and administrators
- Tour the facility
- Observe a class
An open house can help you engage with many potential parents at once. Many childcare centers and preschools offer an open house in the late winter or early spring to prepare for the upcoming year’s enrollment.
Parent Criteria for a Childcare Center or Preschool
Astoundingly, nearly half of parents who search for quality childcare cannot find a program that meets their needs. Each parent will have different goals when touring a childcare center or preschool. But they’ll likely share several similar criteria for selecting a place for their young child to begin their early education.
- Friendly, caring staff: your team is your greatest asset. Make sure they are well-prepared for parent visits. During your new staff and teacher onboarding, conduct training on interacting with parents during tours and visits. But also allow your teachers to be themselves. You don’t want anything to feel too canned or rehearsed.
- Experienced, qualified teachers: your center isn’t providing babysitters. Today’s parents are looking for educational programming that helps their children meet developmental milestones and prepare for kindergarten.
- Low teacher-student ratios: lower teacher-student ratios will help parents know that their child will be well-cared for. But it also signals that you have adequate coverage for spending time with each child during learning activities, such as art class. Weigh the benefits of lower ratios with the cost of more staff in each classroom. The goal is to have one teacher per 10 students, but most states have higher ratios for preschool programs.
- High–quality curriculum: parents want to know that you aren’t just providing a play environment for children, feeding them lunch, and putting them down for a nap. Demonstrate a clear understanding of what young children need to thrive and learn with various fine motor skills activities, gross motor skills, quiet time, art, literature, science, etc. Plan your programs based on early childhood research for the best results for your students.
- Safety: have a clear process for who can sign children in and out. Ensure your center is highly secure with locked doors so that only approved visitors and caregivers can get in and out throughout the day. Parents want to know that no one can remove their child from the center without the proper approvals. But also think through your processes in case of an emergency. Have forms on file for whether you can transport a child to the closest hospital and what care you can provide before the parent arrives. Track children’s wellness throughout the day and have a process for isolating them in case of a fever or other concerning symptoms using workflows within your childcare app.
- Cleanliness and childproofing: parents want to see a clean, well-organized center. This shows that there are spaces within each classroom for parents to work on various skills while learning. And it demonstrates your ability to create an excellent environment for children. Make sure classrooms are age-appropriate with suitable toys and childproofing.
- Clear policies: the parent handbook should be organized and easy for parents to read. It should answer their big questions and make them feel like you’ve thought of everything. The handbook should not leave parents with more questions than they started with.
- Responsiveness: how responsive a childcare center or preschool is during the exploration phase will tell parents how responsive you’ll be throughout the day when caring for their child, and they have questions. Call parents back within a few hours and respond to emails thoroughly to show you care about the parent’s experience as much as you care about the child’s experience.
Engaging Parents with Childcare Apps and Tools
Whether parents are exploring your center to learn more about your offering or have a child enrolled in your programs, they want easy, clear communication. The best way to provide that is through a high-quality childcare app that makes gaining information about their child’s day and activities simple as a button click.
To learn more about one of the best childcare apps available, schedule a demo of iCare Software.