Advice and tricks for meeting new parents
The first contact you have with parents is somewhat like a blind date.
The first few minutes are crucial. Of course, I am not speaking only of appearance, but also attitude. Imagine that your are about to meet the person who may take care of your precious child and she seems impatient, tells you about the trouble she had with a child today, and about a parent who is never on time...
I am exaggerating but I am sure that you understand what I am saying. The first moments you share with new parents must set the stage for them to trust in you. You must show them that you share some of their values.
I know very few people who are not shy when meeting someone for the first time. Even if I am a very sociable person, I am so uncomfortable when I meet someone that I speak very quickly. I think it is important to state that we are shy. Chances are that if you tell parents you are nervous, the uneasiness will dissipate. Keep in mind, most parents are feeling nervous too and in verbalizing it, you may make them feel better too. If I didn't tell parents that I speak very quickly when I am nervous they may think I am a stressed person!
Next, you must demonstrate your love of children and how it translates into daily daycare life. Describe a normal day within your daycare without being monotonous.
- Setup is of utmost importance. Does your entrance reflect your daycare? I do not mean only tidiness and cleanliness. If your entrance is white and lifeless, do you think it is inspiring? I understand that you may not want to hang garlands in the main entrance of your home but what about the daycare entrance? Pictures are a fantastic way of showing, in a glance, what goes on in your daycare: special activities, funny moments, little ones in action... Are your walls covered with children's artwork? Are your pedagogical tools visible?
- The guided tour of your daycare is also very important. Show each room children have access to and explain the activities which take place in them.
- Have parents visualize a normal daycare day. Visit each corner of the daycare in the order that you use them. Explain each activity, show them the toys children may play with, etc. You may even prepare a small activity for them!
- Why not show parents a photo album or scrapbook displaying the best moments you have had with the children under your care? Like the pictures displayed on your wall, you may include pictures of outings, special crafts or projects, parties, etc.
- You may also prepare a short video. This original idea may seem complicated but you can turn it into a daycare project. Children will love watching their very own "movie". Be sure to request written authorization from parents, they must accept that you film their child.
- You may use an object which accurately represents your personality to introduce yourself. Parents must gain a better understanding of who you are. You need not mention the details of your love life but you may tell them about your passions which apply to early childhood.
- You may want to have parents taste a typical daycare meal. Nutrition is often part of parents' criteria. By serving them a meal, they will understand that nutrition is important for you too. Show them your menus and explain how you organize your lunch and snack periods.
- If you have your own website, present it!
Finally, remember to ask parents about their expectations and goals. Be very clear about your own expectations and limits, explaining your daily reality. Respect is essential. After all, this family may be part of your daycare for years to come!
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