Parents sending their kids to daycare and preschool want to make sure that the center is a good fit and lives up to their expectations — but interviewing is a two-way street.
Child care providers should ask parents the right questions to find out if their center is an ideal fit for the child’s needs, and understand how to provide the best possible care for that child. It’s important to include open-ended questions in the parent interview so that you can hear the most important information in the parent’s own words.
Asking smart questions is a great way to build rapport with parents, learn more about the family and prepare for the child’s transition into your center. Today, we’ll look at 25 questions for daycare providers to ask parents in an interview, and tips on how to get the most out of the answers.
25 Questions for Daycare Providers to Ask Parents
Understanding the Needs of the Parent
- Which days and hours will your child need care? You wouldn’t want to enroll a child that needs care outside your hours of operation!
- Will your child be enrolled at our center during the entire year? Many families use alternative forms of child care or take their children on vacation during some parts of the year. Knowing all this in advance will help you plan activities at your center.
- What are your expectations from our child care center? This answer will give you a good sense of parents’ values and priorities. Are they focused on safety, education, discipline, fun or social experiences? You can use this to highlight the aspects of your center that matter the most to them.
- How long will you need child care for? Care needs will vary between families, so don’t be surprised if parents are looking for care for anywhere from a few weeks up to several years.
- Has your child attended a child care center in the past? How well a child adjusts to daycare can depend on whether they’ve had social experiences before. Plus, this will give you an idea of the parents’ history with other centers and if they generally have good relationships with their child care providers.
Open Ended Questions to Ask Parents About Their Child and Experiences
- What did you like or dislike about a previous child care experience? Parents’ expectations may be formed by their — or their child’s — experiences with daycare. Understanding where they’re coming from will help you prepare to meet those expectations and stay on the same page.
- How would you describe your parenting style? Every parent approaches things a little differently. Some are more permissive, others more structured. This will give you a good sense of what to expect when you send home communications.
- Do you have any concerns or questions for me? Parents usually won’t hesitate to ask, but actively opening the floor to discussion is an important sign that you welcome feedback and are confident you’ll live up to their standards.
Understanding Family Schedules & Child Care Logistics
- Are the child’s parents together? If not, how does the custody agreement work? Although it may seem sensitive, this question is crucial for arranging seamless, secure pickups and drop-offs. It can also help in determining account set-up (many separated/divorced parents prefer their own account for tuition payments – more on that here).
- What do you do for a living? This gives you an important look into parents’ context and schedule.
- What are your work schedules like? Are they stable and predictable or variable? A stable schedule may be easier to accommodate, but in today’s world, work schedules are increasingly complex and irregular. Be prepared for parents who can’t be available at the same times every day.
- Who else should be allowed to pick up your child from our center? To ensure the safety of the child, it’s important that you always know in advance if someone else is expected to pick up the child, especially if they may do so regularly. You’ll avoid hassle and extra phone calls by asking ahead of time.
- What communication channels do you prefer? Some parents are difficult to reach by phone, but answer emails instantly. Others hate the waiting game of sending emails back and forth. A parent engagement app is a great way to send parents updates in real time.
- What is the best way to reach you in an emergency situation? An emergency contact channel where the parent can always be reached immediately — and a backup contact in case they can’t — is an important thing to keep on file for every child.
Questions to Ask Parents About the Needs of the Child
- Tell me about your child’s personality. What are they like? When kids are young, parents are the ones who know them best. Asking for the parents’ perspective on their personality is an important first step in getting to know the kids in your care, and will help you prepare for their joining your center. An open-ended question like this will show interest in the child as a person will also reassure parents that their child will be treated as an individual.
- Tell me about your child’s interests. What gets them excited? Another great open ended question to ask parents. Introducing a child to a new environment can sometimes be tough, so you can make it easier on yourself by knowing the child’s likes and dislikes. Letting the child talk to the class about a favorite subject, play a favorite game, or connect with another child who likes the same things will help with a smooth transition. Plus, targeting your learning to kids’ interests will help make sure each child gets the most out of their education.
- Tell me about your child’s dietary preferences. What is their favorite food? Kids can be picky eaters, so being prepared for each child’s preferences will avoid headaches and reduce stress at mealtimes.
- Does your child have any allergies? Allergen-proofing your center can be challenging, so make sure you understand what types of exposure can cause a reaction and what precautions you’ll need to take to prevent one — as well as what steps you should take if a reaction does occur.
- Tell me about your child’s learning needs. What areas can we help with? The ability to tailor your child care curriculum to different learning styles is a definite selling point for your center. Knowing a child’s strengths and weaknesses is the beginning of an education plan that helps them reach their full potential.
- Tell me about your child’s medical needs. Are there any health issues we should know about? Most young kids won’t have any medical needs, but you’ll need to be prepared just in case. Hearing all the details will help you make a careful decision about whether your center can effectively serve the child’s medical needs, and if so, what you’ll need to do to keep them safe and provide equal opportunities.
- Tell me about your child’s immunization history. Have they had their vaccines? For everyone’s safety, this is an important subject to clarify well ahead of time. Plus, many states require kids in child care to have up-to-date vaccinations.
- Tell me about your child’s sleep patterns. Do they have a regular nap time? If so, it’ll be easier to help them adjust to your center’s nap schedule.
- Does your child normally sleep through the night? Kids who have sleep issues often have behavioral issues as well, so understanding the child’s sleep habits will help you be prepared to deal with the crankiness that may result from an under-rested child.
- Tell me about your child’s behavior. Are there any issues we should be aware of? It’s a delicate subject, but you don’t want to be blindsided by problems later down the line. Most parents are honest about their child’s behavior, because they want the best for their child. Having a frank, non-judgmental discussion with parents about behavior sets you up to maintain a harmonious environment where every child can grow.
- How do you like to handle discipline at home? Knowing how parents treat discipline can hint at how the child will react to rules and discipline while in daycare. A child who knows that behavior has consequences may have an easier time getting used to socializing in child care.
Be Prepared for Anything with Procare Solutions
Every child and every family is different, and each child deserves an individualized experience that accounts for their unique needs and personal background. Keeping track of a child’s preferences, schedule, learning progress, immunizations and family contacts shouldn’t have to involve endless paperwork.
For over 30 years, child care professionals have depended on Procare Solutions to support enhanced, paperless record-keeping practices and ensure quick access to family information when needed.
With Procare’s comprehensive child care software, you can manage all aspects of your center digitally, in just one platform. Whether it’s attendance tracking, streamlined online registration or early childhood learning progress, Procare has the tools you need at your fingertips. Procare also raises the bar for the parent experience by providing an easy-to-access parent portal and the opportunity for real-time updates from the classroom.
Ready to enhance your center with Procare’s insights?