Communicate Early Learning & Grow
Successful early learning services effectively communicate quality practice. However, many do not. For those services, it’s a missed opportunity.
The millennial parent is skeptical and results-oriented. Absent information to the contrary, she is a bargain shopper. However, she will pay for quality, but needs to understand it and she needs proof, lots of proof.
Is your service communicating your value each and every day, in every parent interaction? If you are not, then arguably, you are selling your service short.
Skepticism About Value
As we have discussed before, skepticism on early education abounds, as seen in the need to even write articles like Why Early Learning Matters. Or as seen in the importance of location in making preschool choices, often regardless of quality.
Don’t underestimate this skepticism about early education outcomes. Many see early education as being more about the having fun and being safe. They see a play-based service as just that, play.
The problem here is that keeping the children safe and happy is a relatively low ask, and therefore, many parents are bargain shoppers for child care services. They don’t think there is more value than this that is worth paying for.
Describing child care and preschool as warm and wonderful is not enough any more either. Parents won’t pay more for that and/or they won’t travel further for that.
And so, many providers who are advancing — with good NQS, QRIS, accreditation or other quality ratings, evolving curriculum as new research comes along, new technology to strengthen their connection to parents — are not seeing a financial return on their investment.
Along with affordability, this perception of lesser educational value is keeping a lid on pricing for many early learning services. To counteract these perceptions, early learning services need to prove that high quality early education is worth it.
Create Visibility & Confidence In Learning Outcomes
Communicate quality practice.
Parents very well could be attracted to services they believe to have a direct impact on better learning outcomes for their child.
Is your center doing that?
Do parents see and understand all of the good work that is being done daily by your educators?
Trust In the Process
No doubt, the argument that your service can impact learning outcomes positively requires a leap of faith by the parent. You are not going to be able to prove it.
Therefore, you need parents to buy into your vision and process. If they believe the process is powerful, you can build confidence simply by communicating:
- The How – connecting every little thing you do to learning and
- The What – providing evidence of progress
Keep reminding your parents that they made a great decision to choose your service by communicating learning growth vividly (through images) and persuasively (through connection to your approach). And at the same time let the wider community know what they are missing out on through the word of mouth that comes with happy, engaged parents.
The how includes highlighting the time a child spends with your trained professionals. Learning self-regulation, working in groups, carefully scaffolded fine motor skill tasks, language bombardment, projects that develop creativity, exploration, on and on. The kinds of things that make successful early learning services attractive to parents.
The what is proving context, evidence that these activities will impact outcomes, for today’s results-oriented young parents.
Communicating Your Curriculum (or It’s Not Just Play!)
You know “play-based” is not the same as “no real curriculum.” But do your parents understand that?
If you are using a special curriculum such as Reggio Emilia, Montessori, Waldorf, etc., parents probably guess there are connections to learning in everything you do, but do they truly understand? Do they understand the value of play?
For the most part, probably not. And so it’s up to you to educate the parent:
- Communicate often
- Connect activity to your approach and goals
The messages need to be engaging (include photos or videos), sent to a phone where they will be read, and they need to be frequent. And perhaps most of all, to answer the growing skepticism of today’s millennial parent, messages that claim learning growth need context, links.
Explain the Science
There is a ton of great research about the importance of the early years for brain development and learning. Keep referring your parents to sites like Zero to Three or talk about neuroplasticity. Then they will better understand the stakes, the crucial importance of the early years.
Furthermore, many parents still argue it’s a waste of time teaching a child until they can remember things. These parents need to know that way of thinking is outdated. Nowadays, students need to be thinkers. Our future leaders need to be resilient learners, creative and confident.
Building those skills starts at preschool. And so, investment in a quality education is not only incredibly powerful due to fertile state of the brain at an early age, the curriculum matters intensely.
Turning Confidence Into Growth
There are two ways that parent confidence in your approach can help you grow and build a successful early learning service. It helps:
- Word of mouth in your community
- Client retention.
These days parents want to be educated, and if they are excited about something they have the power to share.
You can turn your parents into advocates by constantly connecting the events in their child’s week to learning growth. It makes them feel good about their child’s future, about your service and about themselves, feeling they made a good decision.
Parent referrals that will stem from these positive feelings can have a powerful impact on your service.
Loyal Parents Stay
One key to growth is not losing existing clients.
Clearly, a communication approach that educates and engages parents will promote customer loyalty and improve customer retention.
Communicate Early & Often
The steps then to successful early learning service then are:
- Quality practice
- Communicate your process to parents
While curriculum and learning philosophies can vary widely, there is reasonable consensus about what represents quality practice in early education. The trick is communication, not being your town’s best kept secret, but rather being known as a service that has a strong process that makes a real difference.
This is where a communication tool like Educa’s online software comes in. It allows you to document and share helps you to communicate your approach. Every parent contact point is an opportunity to educate and create trust in your process.
To learn more about how Educa can help make your early learning service more successful, click here.