Beth Simon

Asking for feedback on our program, activities, or about our performance as early childhood educators can be uncomfortable. Of course, receiving positive feedback is rewarding. Who doesn’t like to get a compliment or get praised for the wonderful things you’re doing in the classroom or hearing how much the children love to come to school or hearing how they miss school over the weekends? However, asking for feedback inevitably means that there will be some critical feedback as well. Critical feedback can make us defensive, or it can deflate our self-esteem and motivation. Asking the right questions and opting for a growth mindset can help to eliminate some of that initial knee-jerk response when the feedback we receive isn’t exactly what we were expecting.

Why is feedback important?

As early childhood educators we have the best of intentions in teaching the children in our programs and helping them to learn and grow. However, we can’t be disillusioned by the fact that sometimes our lessons, activities or maybe even the materials we chose fell flat or were just off the mark. Asking for feedback from parents and staff or school-age children can give us a new perspective and help us to see where we’ve missed the mark and where we can make adjustments to better meet parents’, staff, and children’s needs.

What do you want to learn?

Before asking individuals to provide feedback, think about why you want the feedback. What will be the intent of the evaluation? Do you want to learn more about program satisfaction? Do you want feedback to inform change? Are you looking to build stronger relationships with families, staff, or children? Are you interested in improving (parent, staff, or child) engagement in the program? Once you decide what the intent of the evaluation will be you can decide on your audience.

Who do you want to ask to evaluate your program?

Parents: We want the parents to feel welcome at the program, we want them to feel comfortable sharing details about their child with us and comfortable to visit or join us for activities, we want them to be satisfied by the level and quality of care that their child(ren) are receiving. When asking for parents to evaluate your program explain the intent of the survey or how the feedback will be used by the owner, director, administrators, or classroom teachers. Be intentional and specific in the types of questions that are asked, phrasing them positively to discourage the tone of the evaluation to head down a negative path leading to outright complaints. We don’t mind critical feedback that can inform change, but we want to discourage complaints that should be handled in a different manner.

Staff: We want our teachers and educators to be happy and excited to come to work. The attitude and demeanor of the staff make or break a successful early learning program. If they are content and enjoy being at work, it will show, and that joy will spill over into their work with children, creating a fun place to work and a fun place for children to learn and grow.

School-age children: School-age children know what they like and what they want. Don’t be afraid to encourage their feedback. They can tell you what their interests are and what will make their time with you meaningful to them. Ask for suggestions for activities, toys, materials, and things that they want to learn more about. If they’ve contributed ideas, they will be much more likely to participate and join in experiences that they’ve had input on.

What method will you use to ask for feedback?

There are many ways to ask for feedback. You can have a suggestion box that individuals can add ideas to throughout the program year. Will you send out a formal survey either on paper, via email or through a website like Remember time is valuable to your audience regardless of who you’re targeting so make sure that evaluation isn’t too lengthy and can be completed in under 10-15 minutes.

How will you use the feedback?

Think back on the intention of the evaluation or the feedback that you’re looking to get. How will you use it once you have it? Are you open to change or making improvements or adjustments based on the feedback you receive? I don’t think there’s anything greater to provide feedback and see that feedback being put into action.

When is a good time to ask for feedback?

There’s never a bad time to ask for feedback. I’ve often been asked for feedback when something ends, or my experience is over, at the end of a vacation or shopping experience. But what would have been different had that feedback been asked for earlier while I was still on vacation and my feedback could have been used to make that experience better as it was occurring? Only you can say when is right for you. Some things to consider are whether you ask for feedback mid-year so there’s a few months to adjust things before the end of the school year or do you wait until the end of the school year and plan to implement changes for the next program year. Again, there’s never a bad time!

Keep in mind moving forward that not all the feedback you will receive will be positive. Keeping a growth mindset in mind you can choose how you receive that feedback and embrace it as a challenge on the path to success and meeting the needs of the children, families, and staff in your program.

Below are some resources to get you started on your program evaluation journey:

Chandler, M. Tamra. (2019). Feedback (and Other Dirty Words). Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Why Asking for Feedback Can Be A Key To Success

Brightwheel Survey Template

General Survey

Daycare Parent Survey

Sample Survey Questions


Tags : communicationCQIevaluationFeedbackgrowthprovider-parent relationships

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