How To Have A Successful Picture Day At Your Preschool

It’s time for school pictures! How fun!

Well, not always.

Many times, picture day can become a stressful, tiring and downright crazy day that leaves preschool directors pulling out their hair and toddlers crying in their teacher’s arms. Why is that? There are a few reasons but the biggest is just that young children don’t do well with changes in routine. In addition, parents have very high expectations for what they want their children’s photos to look like. When it comes to picture day, as a child care provider, you have two main priorities:

  • You want the day to run as smoothly and with as little chaos as possible. Anyone who has attempted to organize a picture day for a group of toddlers or preschoolers knows it can be a challenge.
  • You want the kids to look great in their photos and for the parents to be pleased.

To ensure that both of your goals are met, you need to plan ahead, get organized and be sure to hire a great photographer. If you want great photos, you need to keep the kids under control but you also need to make sure that the person behind the camera is prepared to take photos of unhappy toddlers in uncomfortable outfits. Once you have that handled, the rest will be much simpler and less exhausting.

Here are 4 tips to help you organize a successful preschool picture day:

1. Choose a theme

To be clear, parents will want to dress their own children and they will have specific ideas of what they want their kiddos to wear. However, simple suggestions for a unified look in pictures can be a great way to ensure that the individual and the class photos are great. “Themes” can be as simple as wearing the school color or asking parents to dress their children in spring colors, for example. This will give class photos a cohesive look. It is also of great help to parents to give them some idea of what the props and/or backgrounds will be so that they can ensure that their child’s outfit won’t clash.

2. If possible, ask the photographer to head outside

Outdoor photos are usually much more beautiful and the natural light makes it easier to capture fantastic pictures. Plus, there are ample natural props like flowers or trees. Please do keep in mind that bringing kids outdoors can excite them and may be more trouble than it’s worth, depending on your group. Also, if the children are in very nice clothes, parents may be upset if they get dirty. This is a judgment call that only you can make.

3. Prepare the kids for picture day

One great thing to do with young children is to have a few lessons or activities revolving around photography planned before the actual day. You can play with toy cameras, look through photographs of past classes or even spend some time playing with a Polaroid camera. Reading books, of course, is always a great way to get kids interested in a new topic. A great example is School Picture Day by Lynn Plourde. You can also add stools and cameras to the dramatic play area so that they can play “picture day” during centers. This preparation will help them not to become overwhelmed on the actual day.

4. Discourage parents from coming

This may be the hardest part. Parents love to participate in events like this and it’s hard to blame them. However, parents coming and going can cause a lot more chaos than good. Write a letter explaining that preschool picture day procedures and asking them to please send their child in an appropriate outfit. Also, let them know that you will be sure to help their child to change into “play clothes” after pictures, if that is what they want. In addition, mention that you will keep basic grooming supplies available in case their child needs their hair brushed or their ponytail fixed. Politely request that they not visit and explain that they may end up upsetting their child and, thus, ruining the photos. If they do come, of course, be warm and welcoming but do not allow them to linger.

At the end of picture day, you will likely feel exhausted and be ready for a long bath and a nap. It’s a fun, but often crazy day. However, when your parents and kids see the lovely photos that come after your hard work and patience, it will all be worth it. After all, your passion is making families happy!

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