Family engagement is important in any preschool. Teachers and parents have to work together in order for the children to get the most out of early childhood education. When teachers and families work together it benefits the child greatly. It is also fun to get families involved and have everyone come together to show their support.
We encourage our families to read at home together by sending home reading logs and doing a classroom/school competition. This year we are seeing which classroom can read the most books by the end of 2018, and then again by the end of the school year (June, 2019). Each classroom is keeping track of their reading logs and how many books each child is reading. At the end of the school year we will see which child has read the most books. The classroom that wins will get something for their class, and the child that wins will be given a new book. The children are excited to turn in each reading log and that helps keep the parents excited, too.
Another way we encourage families to get together is by hosting family nights. This year we are hosting family night once per quarter. It is an hour long, and something fun is planned each family night. Some family nights we have done in the past include game night, a picnic in the park, a scavenger hunt with pizza for dinner, and a picnic at the fountains downtown. Family nights are always fun and it gives the families an opportunity to meet with each other, and put a face to the name their child might always be mentioning. Family nights are a great way to encourage family engagement and bring everyone together.
Our teachers try to make themselves available at drop-off and pick-up, but sometimes that just isn’t enough time to have a full conversation with a parent regarding their child. We try to set aside one day in the fall for Parent-Teacher conferences and then by appointment in the Spring, especially for our Pre-K children, after we have completed their Child Progress Monitoring Reports from Mother Goose Time. This is a great time for parents to hear how well their child is doing, and the things they are working on. It is also good for the teachers to learn more about the child from the parent’s perspective.
Finances for Early Childhood programs struggle like all educational programs and it is hard to ask parents for more than they are already paying. Let’s face it, childcare isn’t cheap, but neither are quality teachers and outstanding curriculum. We are so thankful to be part of the Blogger Program with Mother Goose Time to not only share the amazing things this curriculum has to offer in the classroom, but also to help us lower the cost to a point where it is possible for our program.
To offset the costs, we have done some fundraising this Fall and will have a new set of options for the Spring. These extra funds help us do field trips, purchase new materials/toys/supplies, and allow for a tiny buffer for our budget.
Many local restaurants offer Dine-out Fundraising options. It is a fun and easy way to raise money and to see all the families go out to dinner together.
The Benefit App is a great way for families to contribute with minimal effort and no extra expense. All they have to do is download the app on their mobile device. They can connect Credit or Debit cards through the app. Then when they shop at any participating retailer, they simply select what payment method they would like to use, and purchase an e-gift card for the exact amount to be used right then. They can also purchase these “gift cards” for places they frequent, to be used as payment anytime. A percentage of every purchase comes right back to our school.
Our final fundraiser for the fall was “Cards for a Cause” through Usborne books. Find a local Usborne consultant to set up your fundraiser. These box sets of cards for all occasions are very nice and our families were excited about them. They sold for $30 each and $13 of that came right back to our school!
This program is by far our favorite way to engage parents! We use HiMama to help us communicate with parents. They get daily reports filled with pictures, and all the details of the day including what they had for snack. The reports can also include the child’s mood, how long they napped, and any supplies that they may need, any health issues, etc.. The reports automatically get emailed to the parents every night. Several parents use the reports to talk to their children about their day. The children love looking at the pictures from the day and telling their parents about what they did. One parent said that sometimes her child explains what they did exactly how it is written in the report (yes, they really do listen!) and for those that say they cannot remember what they did, the report is there to show the parents exactly what their child did for the day. HiMama also allows us to keep track of where the children are checked in to (classroom, playground, bathroom, etc.) which helps us keep track of ratios.
We use HiMama to send important emails to an individual, class, or the whole center. The parents can email their child’s classroom directly making for a great way to communicate because sometimes we do not catch them at drop off or pick up due to busy schedules. Parents can check in throughout the day to see pictures that may have been posted. We have the menu posted for parents to view so that they know what their children are eating. The calendar for the year is also posted, allowing for parents to keep track of any important things coming up. We have been very happy with HiMama, and so have our families!