Boosting Child Satisfaction

In the November newsletter, we explore different ways that programs can measure and address customer and teacher satisfaction. Making sure that families and teachers are happy with the program can reduce disenrollment and teacher turnover.  Both of these scenarios impact the program’s reputation, the bottom line, and the culture of the program.  Most importantly, happy families and employees create a warm, nurturing, and consistent environment for young children.

One audience we neglected to consider when exploring customer satisfaction was the children. How often do we consider the satisfaction level of the children in our care?  As you reflect on overall customer satisfaction with your program, consider ways that you can bring children’s voices into the discussion.

Take some time this month to reflect on what child satisfaction looks and feels like in your program.  Consider talking with the children about the concept of satisfaction using language that is appropriate for their level of understanding.

Some synonyms of satisfaction include:

  • Happiness
  • Enjoyment
  • Joy
  • Delight
  • Fulfillment
  • Contentment

Create opportunities for children to share their thoughts and opinions about different elements of the program. Here are just a few ideas:

Thumbs-up or thumbs-down

Begin to ask children to rate different learning experiences by giving a thumbs up if they enjoyed the activity or a thumbs down if they did not enjoy it.  You can introduce a sideways thumb as a way to express neutral feelings about the situation.

It might be good to ask these questions to children in private conversations to prevent children from copying what their peers are doing.

Visual rating scales.

Create a visual rating scale with 3-5 facial features ranging from excited to neutral to unhappy. You can use illustrations or, better yet, take pictures of the children making these faces. You can rotate images so that children get to see themselves in the rating scale from time to time. Post this scale in the classroom in a place that is accessible to children.

Introduce the rating scale to the children by identifying the facial images and defining the feelings as they relate to satisfaction. From time to time, ask children how they are feeling about their day.  Ask them to point to the face that represents how they are feeling about being in school.  Follow up with a few open-ended questions to see if the children can tell you why they feel that way.

  • What happened on the field trip that made you give it an excited review?
  • I see that you are unhappy with the puppet show. What happened that made you feel that way?
  • What would have made water play better for you today?
  • Last week you were excited about music class but this week you are so-so. What changed?
  • Can you think of a way we can improve the block area?
  • Homework time can be frustrating. How can we make it better for you?

Children may not always be able to answer these questions or provide any helpful information. However, you are asking questions that encourage them to reflect on their thoughts and feelings. Eventually, they will be able to answer with more concrete responses that you can use to make decisions about future events.

Responding to feedback.

Be sure to incorporate more of what the children say they like and create a plan to address any areas in which children are less than thrilled.

Ask children to help you think of ideas for improving the environment and activities.

Create a happiness committee made up of children, teachers, and family members who focus on ways to improve the day-to-day experiences of everyone in the program.

Share summaries of some of the changes that you are making in program newsletters or on social media to show your dedication to a caring community where everyone has a voice!