As you strive to serve families and keep them engaged with you until your center opens, what are you doing to give parents creative, unique opportunities to connect with you and each other? Parents who are juggling working from home while managing the constant presence of children and pets will welcome a virtual “Parent’s Meetup” that you host three to five nights a week. Doing so will bring value to them, bond them to you, and help assure they re-enroll. Here are some ideas to get you started right away…
Virtual Game Night for Grown-Ups
Quarantine Wheel of Fortune
Make a large wheel with a spinner. Each section (10-12) has a small envelope with a question inside related to coping well with this lockdown. The director or virtual meetup host spins, and when spinner lands on a question, host can request response from anyone in meeting or select a specific participant to answer. Encourage group discussion. Change questions out weekly.
What’s the most heartwarming thing you have seen or heard about during the pandemic?
Who’s your favorite health care or essential worker hero?
How many boxes of mac and cheese has your family consumed in the last month?
What’s a tip you would share to help parents stay sane while trying to work at home while small children are at home, too?
What’s the first thing you will do when the stay-at-home mandate is lifted?
What are you most looking forward to when our center reopens for your family?
Email me for a full list of questions for two-three weeks of the Quarantine Wheel of Fortune, and send me a photo of you with yours!
“We Will Get Through This” Family Contests with Prizes
Host a weekly contest in which families submit YouTubes of the short activity. One participant’s name is drawn to win a prize, donated by one of your community partners. Links for winner’s submission are shared with all families in your regular communications.
Kid’s Master Cooking Tournament (Prize – Instacart or Uber Eats gift card)
“Thank You” Rainbow Drawing Contest (Prize – Big bag of art supplies)
Workouts, Family Style (Prize – One-month membership to local gym)
Keep on Dancing (Prize – Case of RISE cold brew coffee or Little Secrets chocolate)
So how do you get this prize donated from your community partners? By asking them. Many are more than willing to donate right now to keep their brands top of mind.
Email me for an exact dialogue you could use to ask for an in-kind prize donation.
Speaker of the Week
Enlist expert speakers on topics of parent interest, such as finance (What to do with that stimulus check, etc.), health, parenting, gardening with kids, virtual tours of local museums, etc. Send parents the speaker bio with the meetup invitation, letting them know there will be time for questions.
Tips from the Teachers
Each week the lead teacher from a different level class is your virtual meetup guest, chatting with parents from her home about a favorite activity from her curriculum that families can do together, or just answering parent questions on learning, managing behaviors, or sharing big feelings. Even if teachers are currently not working, this brief contribution of their time will be much appreciated by parents.
Parents’ Virtual Happy Hour
Whether it’s with coffee, kombucha, or a glass of wine in hand, parents who are now isolated at home will probably welcome the chance to socialize with other parents. You could guide this gathering toward a topic of discussion, such as getting enough sleep or COVID-19 volunteer efforts, or just make it a time for families to catch up with one another. Depending on your center’s size, you may need to adjust this to smaller gatherings.
As you create opportunities for your center’s parents and families to virtually engage, remember to…
- Be intentional. Each virtual meetup has a goal of maintaining community, building good will, and confirming the added value you offer.
- Keep it short. Try for 30-45 minutes at a time slot most parents can join you.
- Use Zoom, Google Hangouts, Skype, or whatever group video chat tools works best for you and your families.
Most of all, have fun!
Watch for my next blog, COVID-19 Support IV – Enlisting Staff, Parent, and Community Partners to Help Rebuild Enrollment