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Parents’ Expectations

Dear Debi,
I’ve had my own child care for a year now. I’ve had instances where parents expect me to teach their child how to read or write when clearly the child is too young. How can I keep learning age-appropriate, but still be able to meet parents’ expectations?
Elizabeth , Los Angeles, CA
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
  • Maintain consistent, personal two-way communication
  • Share children’s progress
  • Share information with parents in many forms
Expert Advice
Julie Ruelas
Julie Ruelas
Early childhood development specialist
The best way to ensure that the parents, child and the child care provider will have a good relationship is to sit down and talk about expectations before the child starts in care. I recommend discussing all aspects of care, including what kids will be learning and doing, and what parents expect child care providers to teach their kids.

If everyone agrees then you can put things in writing in the form of a contract so that each party is clear about what is expected by the child care provider and the parents. Another way to do this is to have a parents’ handbook that you give to them once they want to start their child in your care. This can layout everything, including curriculum and views on guidance or discipline. If there is disagreement on anything, this is a good time to discuss them or for the parent to look for someone who they feel is more suitable.

It’s important to have good two-way communication on a daily basis, because kids learn and develop every day. It doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out conversation, but just a brief exchange to touch base with the parent and say, “This is what your child did today” or “This is how your child felt today.”

Personal conversations are the best way to do this, but it’s not the only way. Many child care providers like to jot down notes in a journal of how a child did that day, including if they ate well, or if they were tired or cranky.

Good communication is also important because it clarifies expectations. If you are constantly communicating with parents, it will create a bond. They will trust that you are giving the best care to their child and have the best interest of their child in mind. Parents also feel included in the decision making and have a voice in their child development.

A good approach to communicating with parents is the “sandwich” approach. You should always first mention good things that happened that day with their child. Then if there’s something of concern you need to share with them, don’t make a huge deal about it, but say something like, “We had one little problem” and explain it to them. Always end the discussion on a positive note so that parents don’t feel upset about their children. This will help parents feel good about what’s being said as being helpful, instead of something else.
Child Care provider Comments
Sonnia Corzo
Sonnia Corzo
Child care provider for 6 years, mother of four
I try to lay out some general rules in the contract I have parents sign when their children start care. I do occasionally get parents who express concern about the curriculum. For example, I had a dad tell me he was concerned that his son did nothing but play all day. I explained to him that his son was actually learning through play.

I let him borrow some videotapes for him to learn more about how kids learn through play. After watching the tapes, he seemed to completely understand how important play was and actually started playing more with his son. I encourage parents to express their concerns because it gives me an opportunity to educate them about being better role models for their kids.
Clarissa August
Clarissa August
Family child care provider for 21 years
I have a big advantage because I care for my grandchildren. When my own sons or daughters have questions about the way I do things with the grandkids, I have them participate in whatever it is they have a question about.

For example, if my daughter wants to know why her child plays with blocks all the time, I encourage her to watch her child playing with blocks so that she can observe firsthand how beneficial it is for him. She can hear the counting he’s doing or the language he’s using as he’s at play.
Parent Comments
Daughter is in child care
I had two expectations when I was looking for the right child care for my daughter Megan. First, I expected some sort of structure. I wanted the teacher to expect the best of her, but at the same time not stifle her by spanking her or by being negative.

Academically, I wanted her alphabet and numbers to be reinforced, since that’s something we do together. Some of the places I looked into didn’t encourage that sort of academia so I knew I needed to look elsewhere.

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Topic: Child Care Management
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