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Forming Family Connections, Even When Schedules are Busy

Nov 18, 2021    |   Family Engagement

ECE classrooms are typically busy from the beginning to the end of the day. From drop-offs to pick-ups and everything in between, educators almost always have their hands full. Maintaining connections with parents is important, but carving out time for conversations and check-ins can be logistically difficult. COVID-19 has created additional challenges, as access to the classroom has been limited for families. In this article, we offer simple but effective ideas for keeping the lines of communication open.


A picture is worth a thousand words! A quick snapshot of a child at play is a great way to connect with parents and send an update about how their child is doing during the day. You might take a photo of a child enjoying a book, playing with a friend, or even holding up a completed art project. Parents love to see that their children are happy, engaged, and playing, and these images help parents to feel connected to their children during the day.  Photos can also be conversation starters about activities that a child particularly enjoys.

Photos can be sent via email, a private Facebook group, or even a message if your center has a virtual communication system set up. If sharing photos virtually is not feasible, you might consider printing out a few pictures and placing them near your classroom sign-out sheet so that parents can see them at the end of the day.  


Checking in with families during drop-off and pick-up can be tricky, as there are often multiple parents arriving at similar times. For this reason, it can be helpful to put together a quick newsletter that can be shared with parents on a regular basis to share classroom updates, upcoming events, and more. Newsletters can be particularly helpful because you can put them together at a time that fits into your schedule, such as while children are napping. Because parents are busy too, they will likely also appreciate information that they can review at a time that fits into their day.

For more information about setting up a newsletter, you might enjoy this article from the Good2Know Network archives: Tips for Creating a Newsletter for your Early Learning Program

Written Notes & Messages

Exchanging notes can be a quick and easy way to share information and check in with families. You might post a handwritten note for all families to see, or place individual notes in children’s cubbies so that parents can read them at the end of the day. This kind of communication is best used for quick reminders, classroom updates, or fun anecdotes about the child’s day. 

If you would like parents to have an opportunity to leave notes as well, create a “mailbox” or dedicated place in your classroom for parents to leave messages to the educators. This can be done with a box, small pieces of paper, and pens so that parents can jot down quick thoughts and ideas for their children’s caregivers. 

Pre-Scheduled Meetings 

It can be especially helpful to schedule individual meetings with families for more in-depth conversations. Meetings can be held regularly to ensure that you have adequate time to really get to know families and build relationships. You might include developmental updates about the child’s progress, or the meeting might serve as opportunities for both families and educators to share observations or to get a better understanding of the child’s likes and dislikes and the family’s needs and preferences. 

Scheduling regular meetings ensures that parents have an opportunity to share feedback and ask questions they don’t have time for during drop-off and pick-up. It’s best for these meetings to be scheduled around the family’s schedule and in a private setting, to ensure that parents feel comfortable sharing their feelings and thoughts in the conversation. For some families, a virtual meeting over Zoom or Google hangouts might be easier than making the trip over to their child’s school during their workday. 

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