About two years ago, I began to hear a common concern from families that were attending our program.
“It looks like they ‘play” a lot at your school….when do they learn?! And how will you prepare them for kindergarten if all they do is play?”
Obviously, statements like this frustrated staff. We understood the importance of play based learning, and I believed that most of our parents did as well. However, outside pressures, talk of statewide testing, the constant focus on academics for children younger and younger each year…left parents feeling….well, confused. They knew that their children should be playing at school, but they didn’t know why. And they knew that their children were learning, but they didn’t understand how.
This is where social media came into play. I was already using a wide range of parent communication strategies. Newsletters, emails, parent/teacher conferences…however, I needed a constant stream of visual evidence to help them understand what we were doing in the classroom and why it was important.
Instagram was an obvious choice. Instagram provides a visual feed that is easy for parents to access, beautifully presented and most importantly….FREE!
Before I began I made a couple of important rules for our Instagram page…
- No photos of children’s faces. Our page is public and this was not something I felt comfortable with. Our parents all sign photo release forms, however, I still don’t post picture of direct faces or use the names of children.
- Our Instagram page would have one voice. Although the teachers are responsible for taking all pictures, I am the only person who has access to our IG account. This ensure that the content and voice of the page are consistent…which is important!
- Quality of Content! Everything I post is carefully edited, proofread (I still make some errors…) and thoughtful. It is important to me that the content we share is beautiful and accurately tells our story. Our Instagram page is a resource and source of inspiration for many, but it is also a simple way for prospective and current families to learn more about program.
Since creating our Instagram page I have seen a dramatic increase in interest in our school….but more importantly, parents understand our curriculum and choose our school because of it. Before families even walk in the door they have an understanding of our program, they speak our language and they want their child to learn through play.
If we know that a picture says a 1000 words, than the power is in the picture….so use it!
When I post a picture to Instagram, I first make sure it is of value. I then focus on one element of learning to explain in the caption. Here is an example of a great photo, and the different elements I could highlight in the caption:
If you have any questions about how to successfully use social media to help your community understand your curriculum, please feel free to comment below!