As parents weigh the difficult decision to enroll their children in your early childhood education program now for the school year, or to wait until coronavirus outbreaks have diminished, many will turn to you as the knowledgeable, helpful resource they can trust. The easier you can make it for them to make an informed decision, the more likely they will feel good about you and return sooner.
Here are some common COVID-19 related questions and samples of how you might answer. Remember to include all three parts of Wassom’s Triple A Formula in your responses. (Acknowledge with empathy, Address with benefits, Attempt agreement or a commitment)
“Exactly how are you going to assure me that my child (grandchild) is safe from coronavirus exposure?”
“I can certainly understand your concern. Here, we are taking multiple steps to make sure your child is in the safest, cleanest environment possible. For example, we (then list three of your protective protocols). Would you like to see our entire list of protocols to maximize protection against coronavirus? Does this help you feel more comfortable and confident in your child’s safety here?”
“I’d love to send my child back to school, but I am worried about him or her bringing home the coronavirus to others in our family.”
“Given the statistics, this is a valid consideration that we recognize. Every family needs to make the decision that is best for them. We can assure you that here your child will be cared for, stimulated and engaged with peers in the cleanest, safest environment we can create. Here is a link where you can see exactly how we are addressing this issue. Do our strictly-enforced protocols help reduce your concerns about the possibility of your child contracting the virus and bringing it home?”
“I know you are doing everything possible to make your school clean and safe. However, we are not yet comfortable returning with coronavirus surging in our area.”
“I can understand what a difficult decision this must be for you. In our current environment of uncontrollable restrictions, some of the benefits that have emerged that you might want to consider are that our heightened sanitation procedures mean your child will be less likely to contract other infections and will be healthier over all. The required smaller group sizes make ratios even lower, which means your child will be getting even more individual attention. Also, fewer children means more space per child, so it will be easier for your child to have less exposure than in a larger group. And having your child in our school engaging with peers will allow him or her to rebuild socialization skills many young children may have lost during quarantine, and they can get back on track building their developmental skills.”
“Would it be helpful if I sent you a short video of currently-enrolled parents sharing why they made the choice to come back now?”
“Would you us like to go ahead and schedule a tentative start date for your child?”
Though each of your situations will be different, you can adapt and use these dialogues to help create your own responses that empathize, briefly explain benefits, and request agreement or commitment from the concerned parent.