A preschool open house is an invaluable marketing tool. It allows you to showcase your program and facilities and give parents a firsthand view of what you are doing at your center. It is also important that you make a great first impression as parents will judge you and your child care center or preschool based on that first visit. Here are 10 steps for organizing a successful child care center open house.
1. Choose the date wisely
The date and time of the open house matter, of course. Try to plan it on a day when you think parents would be available. For example, don’t plan it for a Friday night or early Saturday morning. No parent wants to come then. If you plan it during the week, make sure it is not too late in the evening. Be mindful of holidays as well. The whole point is to have as many parents as possible visit so there’s no point in planning a preschool open house at a time that is inconvenient. The best time of year to hold one is a month or two before your preschool application deadline, if you have one. Typically, applications are due in January so a good time to have your preschool open doors would be late October or November. This is also true for a child care center, if you operate on a school calendar year.
2. Market your open house online & offline
Spreading the word about your preschool open house is very important. Without marketing, you really shouldn’t bother having one as it is a waste of your time and money. Promote your open doors online through social media sites such as Facebook (if you don’t have a page for your child care program, here’s the Facebook 101 for child care and preschools programs.) In addition, you can create paper ads or flyers that you can distribute in your neighborhood. It all depends on your budget and how many people you want to get to visit your child care center.
3. Ask your existing families to spread the word
Tell your currently enrolled families about your upcoming child care open house, and encourage them to mention it to their friends. Word of mouth and parent referrals are HUGE in the child care business. If a parent tells another parent (in person or via Facebook) to go check out your child care facilities or learn about your preschool program, they are way more likely to go than if they saw a flyer somewhere. Parents value the opinions of other parents. It’s that simple.
4. Have teachers and caregivers present at the open house
Make sure that there are teachers or caregivers as well as toys and books available so that children will be entertained while you speak with prospective parents. Come up with fun activities for your staff members to engage the children in – like crafts or games. Parents will love to see that type of thing going on at your open house and you will have the opportunity to talk without interruption.
5. Prepare LOTS of preschool enrollment packets
You need to have enrollment forms packets ready so that interested parents can take all of the necessary paperwork back home. Better yet, have your preschool assistant director or a teacher available to help parents fill out the forms should a parent want to enroll right away!
6. Make sure that your child care center looks great
Your facilities should look bright, clean and accommodating. You should have classrooms well-lit and hallways free of clutter. Teachers should be nicely dressed and you should be perky and ready to talk and answer questions. The most important thing to most parents is to get the sense that their children will be in a happy, safe, and clean environment every day. Make sure your center (or home if you run a family child care program) is ready!
7. Have a teacher guide parents at the entrance
Parents who visit should be welcomed and greeted by a smiling child care providers, who will also be able to help direct them. People who wander in and feel unwelcomed or confused, may walk right back out!
8. Offer some refreshments
This doesn’t have to be a huge spread but make sure that there are some snacks and a few drinks for parents and kids. Be certain to include healthy snacks like fruit and vegetables as well as water and fruit juices. Nutrition is important to most parents and they will get a bad first impression of your child care center if they see a buffet full of candy and soda.
9. Set up a display table
You should make sure that the table is in a highly visible spot like the front lobby (or near the refreshments!) and include items like:
- parent handbooks
- developmental checklists
- samples of classroom activities
- photo albums
- your preschool curriculum overview
- awards that your center may have won
- teacher profiles and photos
10. Play some nice, calming music
People want to walk into a peaceful space. That is what they expect for their children and that is the first impression that they will want to get. Play some slow, soothing instrumental music to create a welcoming and comfortable atmosphere.
In short, plan your preschool open house with the parents in mind. Think about when they will be available, what they will want to see and the kind of impression that you want to give them. Be thoughtful in planning the event and make sure your do some marketing so that prospective parents learn about it. Above of all, have fun and be happy and excited because that is the thing that parents will care about the most!
If you want to learn more how to market you child care program, feel free to contact CareLuLu!
Do you have any other tips about organizing a successful open house for a child care center or preschool? Please share!