Here are just a few ways that programs can build a sense of community with families:
- Common goals
- Collaborate with families to identify learning and development goals that are appropriate for children. Share activities that can be done at home.
- Hold contests and other friendly competitions between classrooms in which families can participate.
- Identify opportunities for families to advocate for ECE initiatives alongside staff members.
- Freedom of expression
- Collect feedback from families on a regular basis through anonymous satisfaction surveys.
- Create an open door policy that encourages regular feedback – both positive and constructive.
- Show genuine appreciation for families’ concerns – they are an opportunity for growth.
- Address member concerns with sensitivity
- Maintain confidentiality with families at all times.
- Acknowledge concerns with empathy.
- Respond to concerns in a timely manner.
- Follow up with families after an incident to ensure it was handled in a satisfactory manner.
- Set clear policies and obligations
- Ensure families receive a copy of the programs policies and procedures.
- Provide reminders of policies in newsletters and other forms of communication.
- Ensure policies are enforced evenly.
- Offer opportunities to all families equally.
- Ask families to provide feedback on certain program decisions.
- Celebrate heritage and traditions
- Periodically pick one family to highlight in a program-wide communication. Publish an article that explores the family’s culture and traditions.
- Invite families to share stories, music, food, hobbies, occupations, celebrations, and traditions with their child’s class.
- Encourage families to create “All About Us” books that can be put in the class library. Highlight one book each week in the lobby for everyone to see.
- Reflect diversity in displays and materials available in the building and field trip locations you visit.
- Promote interactions among members
- Identify families who will welcome and build connections with newly enrolled families.
- Host frequent family events and family/teacher conferences at different times of day.
- Open up professional development events to families.
- Invite families to volunteer in a variety of ways.
- Allow families to place business cards on a community board to share their services with others.
- Elect leaders that stand by community values
- Invite families to participate in the family committee. Encourage them to take on leadership positions within the group. They can also take the lead on event planning initiatives.
- Review the program’s philosophy and mission statement at the beginning of each family committee meeting to ensure all topics covered align with the program’s values.
- Prioritize effective communication
- Use multiple forms of communication to share information with families, including digital options.
- Listen and ask lots of questions when addressing families.
- Utilize a translator if necessary.
- Make smart decisions
- Recognize situations that require deeper investigation and gather as much information as possible from everyone involved before acting on a solution.
- Provide resources and information that families need to make the best decisions for their children.
For the main article Community Building, CLICK HERE
For the article Characteristics of Positive Communities, CLICK HERE
For the article Building Community with Children, CLICK HERE
For the article Building a Team Community, CLICK HERE