Are you looking to boost preschool enrollment at your center? Maybe you’re a new program just getting started. Or is your waiting list not as long as you’d like? Perhaps the baby boom your community experienced in years past has dropped off and there aren’t as many families looking for care this year. Whatever the reason, as a program administrator, boosting preschool enrollment and maintaining a full roster is probably always in the back of your mind. We asked some leading preschool programs that use brightwheel for their best tips to build successful programs.
Here are their top suggestions:
Use your parent community as a resource.
Offer your families a discount for referring others to your program with a formal referral program. Give your happy families an incentive to refer their friends by rewarding them with a discount or cash reward.
Also, help families connect with each other to build a strong community. Hold regular family events for not only showcasing your children’s activities or work, but also for getting to know each other. Many of your families may be first-time parents and will thank you if you help them connect with other new parents. Just be mindful of the fact that not all parents can attend events held during the workday, so be sure to offer evening and weekend get-togethers, as well. Host picnics, potlucks, or coffee klatches so families can spend time together, strengthening the relationships that are also being forged during the school day.
Have a high-quality website.
Create a great first impression, and give your prospective families a glimpse into your program. If your online presence is top notch, it signals that your program is too! Share photos of your facilities, program offerings, and staff profiles with their pictures. Offer expertise on your website, to communicate that you are a modern, high-quality choice. You can do this by having a blog, and also by curating child development and parenting resources, and related early education news.
Go digital to modernize your program.
Even if your families don’t want much technology used with their little ones in the classroom, you can bet they rely on tech in their day-to-day lives. Try brightwheel, the software solution you need to engage your families with digital photos and updates of their child while allowing you to manage your classroom, record activities, track student progress.
Instead of sending papers home in backpacks, share information the way most modern parents prefer: via their smart devices. Offer secure, digital check-in for parents’ peace of mind and ease of drop off and pick up routines. Automated online tuition payments can also be a large draw for busy parents, instead of having to hunt for the checkbook at the end of every month.
Offer flexible and comprehensive options.
Today’s working parents will appreciate being able to drop-in early or stay late as needed. They’ll also jump at the chance to take advantage of “date night” care, such as monthly pajama and movie nights. If possible, offer care during summer and spring breaks.
Another fantastic draw can be partnerships with local enrichment offerings such as yoga, music, sports, or art classes. These can be offered as part of the regular day, or can be schedule add-ons in the afternoons. The more your familiescan rely on you for all of their educational and childcare needs, the more satisfied they will be with your program.
Always be marketing.
Spreading the word and marketing your preschool should be top of mind and continue year round, regardless of whether your current rosters are full. The best programs in town have been around for many years and have built a strong reputation, but that doesn’t mean that a newer program can’t also compete and succeed. Social media is an increasingly effective channel for small businesses to reach potential customers. Also, be sure to participate in local parenting and child-friendly events for regular visibility in your community.
Open your doors on a regular basis.
Offer weekly tours and frequent open houses. Though it can be disruptive, be sure your tours include classroom visits, where prospective families can see your high-quality staff and program in action. (Pro-tip: If you do this on a regular basis, it won’t actually be that disruptive as your children get used to visitors in the classroom.)
Also, partner with community organizations to bring regular visitors to your preschool. The more people that have visited your preschool and peeked inside, the more people will know about it.