Planning Your Daycare Program
Once your financing is solidly in place, and you have met all the licensing requirements in your state, city and county, you must plan the actual program that will be put into place the day the first child steps foot into your new daycare business. There are many issues to consider when planning your program, and one of the best ways to fully develop your program, is to ask yourself what you would like to see in a daycare center for your own child. Once you start getting phone calls from parents regarding your daycare center, you will need to meet with each parent or set of parents to discuss enrolling their children. When you meet with the parents you will need policies in place that will address:
· Payment-amount, when payment is due, what happens in case of past due payment, etc.
· Illness-both the children's and yours
· Vacations and holidays
· Field trips
· Your hours, and what happens if the child remains at the center beyond normal hours
· Who is authorized to pick up the child or children
· Activities you will be providing for the children
· Meals you will provide for the children
· Extra clothes required, or other requirements for parents to provide
It's a good idea to have a child care contract in place which thoroughly explains the policies and procedures of your center and to have the parents who are enrolling their children sign the contract-this way if any problems arise the parents know up-front what your policies are.
Structuring Your Program
While many daycare centers have no real program, rather just let the children play all day, planning is essential to increase the learning opportunities of the children and to avoid boredom. The actual key to your professional success will rest on the strength of day-to-day program you put into place at your new daycare center. When children are bored, not only are they missing out on crucial developmental opportunities, but they are much more likely to act up and exhibit difficult behavior. Everybody will be happier if you have a variety of interesting activities that both the children and you can look forward to each day.
While some daycare centers follow a daily schedule in which the children do basically the same activities at the same time each day, other providers are more spontaneous, responding to the moods of the children. While both systems of scheduling have their advantages, you will probably end up with a mixture of the two. Because children are spontaneous and often have their best moments with little warning, you will, of necessity have to learn to be somewhat flexible. On the other hand, children respond well to a certain amount of structure, and tend to like knowing that each day at ten o'clock they will have puppet time.
Many states will require you to offer structured educational curriculum to the children as a condition for licensure or registration-even if they do not, it's a good idea to develop an educational program for your new daycare center. Parents will be much more likely to give your center a second look if you have an educational program in place which nurtures the growth and development of their children. You might take a look at the Montessori Method, which encourages a child's intellectual, social, emotional and physical development.
You will need to let parents know the times as well as the type of meal and snacks you will be providing for their children. You could post a weekly schedule of daily menus, or inform them of any special considerations in your menus, such as not serving sweets, etc. Parents may request special nutritional considerations for their children, such as no sugar or milk products, vegetarianism, or special food allergies. If you are unable to accommodate such requests, the parents may need to be responsible for supplying any special foods. If you are licensed or registered, you may be eligible for reimbursement for your child care food expenses. You can go online to check on Child Care Food Program (CCFP) or contact your local licensing entity for questions.
To the extent possible, you will want to get the children's parents involved as much as possible. Try to get parents to come along on planned field trips, and arrange conferences with parents to discuss their children's progress. Children always feel happier and more secure when all the adults surrounding them are totally involved in their educational and recreational activities and their general well-being.
Though it may sound overwhelming, planning your daycare program is a smart move to future success. Before long all the planning will fall into place and become second nature to you, and your business will run smoothly.