December 18, 2020

7 Steps to Bridge the Parent-Teacher Gap During COVID

By Nicolle Cuddey, Early Learning Academies’ SmartCare Administrator

For all the life-sustaining connection electronic communications provide, they’ll never be able to fully replace eye-to-eye, voice-to-ear or heart-to-heart. In education, the distance we’ve all felt since spring has become even more pronounced as the pandemic continues when, for public health reasons, parents aren’t able to access their childcare centers as often or as easily as they did pre-COVID.

As a former Center Director, I’m well-aware of the benefits of staying connected. It’s hard for both teachers and parents to have to be so distanced during this time. Every good center wants that relational give-and-take and two-way support between families and staff because it offers the very best support for the children…and that’s always going to be the highest goal.

Toward this end, consider the following creative ways for teachers to stay in close contact with parents and essentially bridge the connection gap.

  1. Post Away: Social media is a quick and wonderful way to showcase children engaged in learning and play—just make sure media releases are in place.
  2. Use Your Tools: With so many centers having their own childcare management app, it’s easy to send photos and text updates to parents quickly and easily.
  3. Get Hands-On: Help foster the home connection by sending a hands-on activity that parents can do with their child that reinforces what’s being learned in the classroom. Then, invite parents to take videos or pictures of the project to share with the teacher and classmates.
  4. Make the Call: Encourage teachers to pop out of the classroom for a few minutes during the week to call parents and share milestones or activity updates.
  5. Stay Connected: Conduct regular virtual conferences to discuss children’s progress and learning goals, and offer the same for parents who want more connection.
  6. Spread Good News: Create an area in the lobby to display children’s artwork or share learning “wins” for parents to see during drop-off/pick-up.
  7. Be Resource-full: Keep a list of local resources handy (e.g., assistance programs, food pantries, etc.); if you sense families are struggling with some of the basics, you can share, respectfully and privately, nearby options for help.

In many ways, childcare workers have become a type of “honorary family member” during the critical early years of learning and getting acclimated in a center setting. As such, we have a responsibility to communicate well and often and help wherever we can toward the child’s—and family’s—very best.