Facebook With Families – Social Media in Early Childhood Settings

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Whether it’s to save paper or try a more interactive approach, more and more childcare centres and kinders are using online communications to keep in touch with parents.
While many in the early childhood field hold strong opinions about the use of iPads and computers for young children, this post is more interested in the use of Facebook for centre educators and management to keep in touch with families.
Facebook With Families
Plenty of early childhood educational services have Facebook business pages to publicise their centre, almost like an extension of their website. Other centres also have private ‘closed groups’ on Facebook. In these groups, only parents and immediate family members are accepted into the group to view the information posted. This information can be anything from reminders of upcoming events, to photos of children and everything in between. Parents can post questions that can then be answered by other parents or the centre’s staff. Sometimes parents may even post photos from an external occasion like a child’s birthday party, for example, to share with other families and the staff.
These closed groups can become an extension of the partnership between centres and families, and also facilitate bonding and communication between parents, and between staff and parents.
Plan It Carefully
The key is for it to be well managed. A plan or strategy can be helpful for a few reasons: make sure that there is activity in the group on a regular basis, ensure comments and questions are monitored and moderated in a timely fashion that the rules are adhered to.
What sort of rules, you may wonder? We recommend requesting that parents don’t save the images from Facebook that have other people’s children in them, but that they can make a request to have the image sent to them via email. We also advise that a consent form be signed by parents to allow images of their children to go on the Facebook group. Although it is private and can only be viewed by approved members, some parents may not want their children’s image posted for various reasons.
Pros and Cons
We are in favour of the use of Facebook Groups for centre, but here a few pros and cons we have identified in relation to private Facebook Group for you to consider:
PROS
-Increase communication between the centre and families
-Facilitate bonding between families
-Attract parent interest and increase participation
-Simple way to stay in regular contact with all families
CONS
-Potential privacy and confidentiality issues
-Takes some extra time for the educator/s and/or management to post and monitor
Does your centre use online methods to contact parents and families? What other pros and cons do you see when it comes to the use of private Facebook closed groups for centres? Have you had a particularly positive or negative experience with Facebook Groups as a parent, educator or management?
Join the discussion with us on Facebook.

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