Advice for Starting or Operating a Child Care Service

Articles all written by Fiona Lohrenz and published here with her permission. Her website may be viewed HERE




Tips for Effective Management of a Daycare Business

There is a lot of work attached to opening a daycare business. The list of things to do will seem overwhelming and unending. You have your research, your business plan, designing an area, acquiring staff, obtaining clients and countless other tasks. However, it is equally important you lay the groundwork now for the effective management of your day care business once you are up and running. This article provides some tips on how to do just that.

It goes without saying that you have designed your area with the children in mind. You designated an area where the children would be watched over, where games and activities could take place, where the children could eat, and where the children could rest if they so desired. Did you stop you think about incorporating a specific area where you could work with no distractions. In order to manage your home based daycare business, it is important to have a small work area designated specifically for where you can conduct the operations behind the business. This is where you deal with taxes, staff paperwork, regulatory issues, advertising etc. This is your control center.

Remember, your day care (whether home based or otherwise) is a business and needs to remain separate from your personal affairs. Try to have a separate telephone line and email address for your daycare. Open a bank account specifically to cater for the business and use it to purchase all business related items i.e. office supplies, art supplies, food, cleaning equipment etc. Your business office space should be just that and not used for anything else. I would go so far as to suggest having a separate space in another room with a PC for personal use. This will ensure effective management of your business.

Time management is vital, particularly if your day care is attached to your home. If you are not fastidious about organizing your time you will become disorganized, inefficient and frazzled with little pieces of you spread all over. Timetable your day with core slots of time devoted to the daycare and within those slots schedule specific activities. Assign quieter parts of the day to complete domestic chores enlisting family members to help out. Don't forget to factor in breaks and relaxation time for you too. Childcare is a tiring business and you need to keep fresh and energized.

One of the disadvantages of working for yourself especially if you are home based is the tendency of friends and family to assume you are always free for visits. This can be detrimental to your time management system thus your business. Speak to all concerned and explain that between the hours of 8am and 2pm you are working and unavailable. Explain that you are a professional and as such need to dedicate yourself completely to the task at hand during these hours. Then put your answering machine on your personal phone and don't give them your business number.

As you can see, there are many ways that you can effectively manage your home based daycare business. It is important to develop a system that will work for you. You must carefully evaluate your needs and concerns and approach them with a business perspective. Once you are able to do this, you will find that operating and managing your daycare business is easy.


Successful Settling In at Day Care - Tips for Parents and Professionals

The first day at day care is a big one for all concerned mum, child and carer. It is exciting and terrifying at the same time. Here are a few tips on how best to prepare all of you for the big day and help make that transition a smooth one.

This is a team effort with Mom laying the groundwork gently preparing the child with talk of how much fun day care will be. The provider can be suggesting role playing at home perhaps providing mom with names of kids and carers to facilitate that familiarization.

Mom should begin some of the day care routines with the child in the weeks preceding and encourage independence by arranging visits to friends. The provider should insist that mom and child pay numerous visits to the day care in the weeks preceding the first day so all is not completely strange.

Mom, try and have everything packed and labeled the night before (change of clothes, comfort toys, snacks) and all administrative tasks i.e. payment, forms etc taken care of so you can focus on your child. Have a fun breakfast and chat enthusiastically about the adventure ahead. Providers should have an extra staff member on hand to help with the settling in.

Providers, insist that parents walk their child from the car to the door. Mom, allow your child to pack his own bag. When you get to the day care do not carry him, this will just make the separation all the harder. Hold his and walk him to the door.

All day cares should have a settling in period where the child will stay for gradually longer periods of time. Facilitate the moms so they can be around but discourage too much mom involvement. This is where mom needs to take a back seat and observe rather than interact. Provide one on one support for the child. He may just want to sit and observe for a while eventually venturing into a group to participate or play alone with a toy. Let him go at his own pace. When mom leaves, distract him immediately ushering him off to some exciting activity.

Moms should take a back seat the first day of settling in. Allow your child to do his own thing, observing or interacting he will go at his own pace. Gradually, you may step into the hall explaining you are going to the bathroom and eventually, you will sit in your car or get a coffee as your child settles down. Always remember to say, bye mommy will see you later, firmly and cheerfully and do not look back if your child cries. They will be distracted and will stop crying shortly.

This drop off and settling in routine is crucial and should be in place from day one. The communication and understanding between parents and providers will ensure an enjoyable transition for both child and mom. Now, moms can relax for a few hours and providers can enjoy the new little character in their day care!!


Tips for Starting a Day Care

Always dreamed about staring your own day care business? The perfect self employment situation which allows you to be with your kids whilst bringing in much needed money and being your own boss. However, you haven't gone beyond dreaming about it due to a fear of the unknown. The fear of taking a risk on something you're not even sure you'll be suited to.

My advice to you is remove the fear. Get a taster of the childcare business first and see if it is a profession you would enjoy. Immerse yourself in this environment for research purposes. Get a job or offer your services at a day care. Try to find one that will allow you to bring your children with you or get a kindly family member to help out while you are researching. Do whatever it takes get the time off work. Remember, this is your future you are planning.

Observation and practical application is great for figuring out what works and what doesn't. Plus there is nothing like on the ground experience to figure out your suitability for a particular profession. You can learn so much from an existing daycare that could save you a lot of time and effort in the future. They've already made the mistakes so you don't have to.

Become a sponge in your research phase soaking up every jot of information. Be sure and take notes whenever you get a break or immediately after you get home while the details are still fresh in your mind. Oogle all paperwork, policies and procedures every chance you get. There'll be a lot so just try to remember key points for now. Try to see the bigger picture and how it all fits together to facilitate the smooth running of the operation.

Don't be afraid to ask questions, especially of the owner or more senior, experienced staff. Observe how they work, how they interact with children, parents and other staff. Try to identify different roles e.g. does each room have a keyworker and assistants? How does that work and could it be more effective? You will notice weaknesses too but use those to your advantage learning what not to do. Be aware of health and safety routines and issues. Hone in on any behavioural problems and notice what is the procedure for dealing with same.

Effective systems, policies and procedures enable a business to run smoothly and give management and staff structure and direction. A daycare business is no different and your immersion in the daily routines of same will enable you to see that and remove much of the fear that has been holding you back. All the pieces will come together in your head enabling you to get beyond the fear to a more confident and constructive place.

Most importantly though,it will give you a very good idea if child care is a business in which you could thrive. You will need to love it because,like any business, there will be tough times and your passion is what will carry you through to success. So, get researching. You are on the path to the perfect business for you and your family.


Research Starting a Daycare in 3 Steps

So, you think you would like to start a day care but where to start? Let us assume you know nothing about the industry except that it involves children. That is pretty much the position I was in when I started my day care 10 years ago and I spent a year and a half researching and learning before I got going. Before you go running for the hills in dismay allow me to cut short the research time a little with some pointers on how best to prepare for the exciting adventure that is Starting a daycare business.

Every successful venture starts with a well thought out business plan thus enabling the entrepreneur (you) to get a clear, overall picture of what your business will entail. This is the vital, unavoidable first step if you are to have any chance of understanding what it takes for your idea to succeed. Many people get to the business plan stage and no further due to a realization that the project is unfeasible for whatever reason. So, use your business plan as the first step in your research to figure out if your business will be viable.

The business plan covers all vital elements of starting and operating a business, introduction / description, benefits, market research, key financials and conclusion. I found it to be a great checklist of things to do as I worked my way methodically through each of the required steps. It forced me to consider, research and document every aspect of my potential business, propelled me to analyze in detail areas I might otherwise have glossed over (or ignored completely). Like a good teacher it provided the questions and ensured I filled in the blanks. There are many great business plan templates out there and I have listed some that I particularly like below:

www.sba.gov USA
www.bytestart.co.uk UK
www.teagasc.ie/startingyourownbusiness/ Ireland

Next, talk to the experts. Arrange a meeting with your local licensing representative, have them visit your premises and find out what they will be requiring in terms of premises layout, contents, play area and general health and safety issues. Get them to give you guidelines and tips on policies and paperwork. Don not be afraid to ask questions, remember this is the expert the person who will be granting you a license so best to have a heads up on what they will expect from you. Prepare in advance of this meeting and come armed with a list of comprehensive questions so you do not waste a great opportunity to absorb as much knowledge as possible.

An invaluable source of information on setting up your day care is existing daycare owners. When I was researching my business I received some of the best tips, hints and advice from other providers, in fact, I still make information gathering visits once a year and learn something new every time. Call up a couple of established providers (preferably not too close to your proposed venture, they might not be too enamoured of the impending competition!), explain your situation and set up a day to go visit. Most people are delighted to mentor a budding entrepreneur and proud to showcase their business. Become a sponge for that day and absorb every tidbit of information available.

Take a pen and paper for notes, ask questions, listen and observe. Notice daily routines, room layout and equipment, methods for dealing with behaviours, staff and child interaction, health and safety procedures, hygiene practices, peruse paperwork (ask for copies of the paperwork to help guide you when formulating your own). Get tips on advertising, pricing and suppliers. Try to speak with the owner or manager, the staff and the cook and get a feel for each unique role. Ask questions like What do you feel could be improved? or If you were starting out what things would you do differently? These open questions will provide you with an immense wealth of knowledge, all of the practical, hands on variety.

These are just three steps you can take in pursuit of your dream to start a day care business and they will provide you with a tremendous amount of information and guidance. Your confidence in yourself and your ability to achieve your vision will peak and you will be propelled into further positive action. It costs nothing but time and if you can get yourself to this point there is no looking back. What are you waiting for?


Effectively Managing Your Home Based Daycare Business

There is a lot of work attached to opening a daycare business. The list of things to do will seem overwhelming and unending. You have your research, your business plan, designing an area, acquiring staff, obtaining clients and countless other tasks. However, it is equally important you lay the groundwork now for the effective management of your day care business once you are up and running. This article provides some tips on how to do just that.

When you initially started your daycare business, you designated an area where the children would be watched over, where games and activities could take place, where the children could eat, and where the children could rest if they so desired. Did you think to create a specific area where you could work away from it all? In order to manage your home based daycare business, it is important to have a small work area designated specifically for where you can conduct the operations behind the business. This is the area where you should handle any payroll, budgeting, taxes, and so on.

Remember, your day care (whether home based or otherwise) is a business and needs to remain seperate from your personal affairs. Try to have a separate telephone line and email address for your daycare. Open a bank account specificially to cater for the business and use it to purchase all business related items i.e. office supplies, art supplies, food, cleaning equipment etc. Your business office space should be just that and not used for anything else. I would go so far as to suggest having a seperate space in another room with a PC for personal use. This will ensure effective management of your business.

Keep firm tabs on your time management especially if your business is attached to your home. People who do not manage their time effectively find that the overall management of their daycare business is greatly affected. If you are not fastidious about organizing your time you will become disorganized, inefficient and frazzled with little pieces of you spread all over. You may wish to create schedules about the activities that occur during the day in the daycare, assign family members certain responsibilities to keep track of the chores around the house, dedicate time to handling the operations of the daycare center, and to take stock of supplies and such. Don't forget to factor in breaks and relaxation time for you too. Childcare is a tiring business and you need to keep yourself in top form.

A disadvantage of working for yourself especially if you are home based is the tendency of friends and family to assume you are always free for visits. They feel that, since you work at home, you have time for their phone calls and visits. This can be detrimental to your time management system thus your business. visits. It is important that you inform these well intentioned people that this is a job. They must understand that you have certain hours each day that are dedicated to work and your family and this time should not be interrupted. Explain that you are a professional and as such need to focus completely on the task at hand during these hours. Then switch on your answering machine!

As you can see, there are many ways that you can effectively manage your home based daycare business. It is important to develop a system that will work for you. You must carefully evaluate your needs and concerns and approach them with a business perspective. Once you are able to do this, you will find that operating and managing your daycare business is easy.


Day Care Fire Safety

Fire safety is a major consideration when planning to open a day care facility. You are ultimately responsible for the safety of every individual who enters your premises, staff, children, parents and visitors. It is vital therefore that you have an effective fire safety management policy as fire safety is achieved via this policy combined with adequate fire safety features in your premises. Your job, quite simply, is to take whatever steps necessary to minimize fire risk and should a fire occur you will have procedures in place to evacuate staff and children quickly.

In order to realize this goal you must have a fire safety program in place. This is not a costly venture as it should be incorporated into your daily procedures and entails a lot of common sense and good housekeeping which you are doing anyway. A brief written statement outlining the elements of the program should be drawn up. This can be done with the assistance of a nominated staff member who will also assume responsibility for overseeing and maintaining the fire safety program.

What steps are you taking to avoid the risk of a fire at your day care? The fire safety program should detail what fire prevention measures are in place at your day care. You could include in this list of steps safe storage of flammable gases or liquids, details of gas and electrical appliance inspections, ensuring safe cooking practices in the kitchen, utilizing non combustible materials where possible.

Ongoing staff training is a vital element of fire prevention so that staff know what to do in the event of an emergency and can do so calmly and quickly. All staff should be aware of the location of fire exits, fire fighting equipment, fire protection equipment and fire detection facilities. Training should also involve the use of this equipment where necessary and the procedure involved in emergency procedures and evacuation drills. This training can be undertaken during staff induction however regular refreshers should occur annually.

In order that staff can react effectively in an emergency you should implement regular fire drills at your day care. You should have monthly emergency evacuations which should occur without warning. These drills should take into consideration the following factors, how many people are on the premises, if any of them are disabled or sleeping as these individuals should be given high priority. Following evacuation all persons should gather at a prearranged assembly point and designated staff members should account for everybody. The roll book will have been evacuated also to accommodate the roll call. Finally, your fire drill report will review the event and highlight any areas that are cause for concern or improvement.

Up to date fire safety records should be maintained at your day care detailing all aspects of your fire safety procedures. You will include in this record the name of the day care and person running it, address, designated fire safety person, person responsible for calling the fire brigade, how many children are catered for, a plan of each floor, details of staff training and fire drills and a list of fire fighting equipment with details of inspections.

You will need to ensure the adequacy of the fire safety features of your individual premises i.e. actual structure, windows, doors, equipment, appliances, fittings and furnishings. Your fire officer can help you ensure that everything is up to standard. Ultimately, leave nothing to chance. Seek professional help if you have any doubts thus ensuring that your premises is as fire safe as possible from the get go.


The Green Day Care

[I have attempted to be as 'green' as possible, both in my personal life and at my child day care, for quite some time now. Before the advent of curbside collection I was dividing my waste and making the fun filled fortnightly trip to the recycling center for offload. It took a bit of effort but I figured it was the least we wasteful, polluting humans could do in an attempt to preserve our environment.|Both my day care and personal abode have seen my attempts at being as 'green' as possible in recent years. It's not that long since I was making the glorious fortnightly trip to the recycling center with my meticulously divided waste before the advent of curbside collection. My feeble attempts at preserving the environment were, I felt, the least I could do as a polluting, wasteful human.|Both my day care and personal abode have seen my attempts at being as 'green' as possible in recent years. Before the advent of curbside collection I was dividing my waste and making the fun filled fortnightly trip to the recycling center for offload. My feeble attempts at preserving the environment were, I felt, the least I could do as a polluting, wasteful human.]

These attempts extend to the education of the next generation in ecological issues at my day care. The kids are aware of, and involved in, the daily routines that make up our recycling efforts and that's in addition to incorporating same into their class lessons. We are constantly reminding them not to waste power or heat, they are familiar with the different bins for paper, glass etc and they know what the function of a compost heap.

Promoting this awareness in the kids is a lot easier than you might think and can be made into a fun learning game (who knows where paper comes from, which bin does this pot go into?). Children are like little sponges and they are open to new concepts and ideas. Plus they carry this enthusiasm home and can often play a part in changing the mindset of those around them (several parents have told me how they were remprimanded by their preschooler for putting a recyclable object in the garbage). I love it!!

We make gentle recommendations to parents to choose products based on the recyclibility of the packaging when they send in store bought snacks. Examples might be buying certain goods in larger containers or in cardboard instead of plastic packs i.e. yogurt, raisins and recycling juice bottles. The kids get involved via an art project that incorporates pictures of more environmentally friendly containers.

Every day care owner knows how many batteries are required for all those annoying educational toys!! We bought a recharger, reuse our batteries and save money. If you do have a cache of old batteries lying around take them to a local battery recycling depot (there are lots around).

We can make a huge difference with a little extra thought and effort and a variety of small changes. As day care operators we have a fantastic opportunity to mould little minds, to make environmental awareness second nature to kids. We can be proud when we hear that our preschoolers are reprimanding adults on issues green!!


Tips for Formulating Your Day Care Contract

A vital aspect of your day care business is having a foolproof, comprehensive contract in place. Spending some time on this crucial document should be one of your high priorities. Believe me when I tell you that a well crafted contract can save you from much potential grief and gnashing of teeth (I speak from painful experience!!).

Quite simply, your day care contract should indicate to parents what you do, how you do it, who you are, your expectations in terms of their behaviour and how you deal with transgressions and complaints- essentially you are setting out your terms, conditions, procedures, rules and policies in a clear and concise manner. There should be no gray areas, nothing left to chance or misinterpretation.

So, I hear you holler - what should be in this epic tome and how do I even get started! Well, as it happens I have more than a few years of operational experience in this madcap world of day cares and, through much trial, error and ongoing learning have a pretty good idea of the stuff that you need to address. Allow me to give you a few tips and pointers but I'll leave you to do the work of fleshing it out and personalizing your own contracts. What?? You don't get off scott free you know, now get those pencils out!!

I would suggest starting, at the beginning (strangely enough) where you can wax lyrical about your mission statement and ethos generally. Try and incorporate every aspect of a child starting in your day care i.e. what enrollment forms are required, the specific hours/days that care is required, necessary supplies, whether or not you institute a trial period (unfortunately, not everyone adjusts for various reasons) and detail your termination policy (if you kick my dog on the way in you're outta here!!). You would be amazed how much incredibly important stuff is often glossed over so be sure and include your opening hours, late collection penalties, what dates you close, total number of children allowed, ratios of staff to child, insurance and license details. . Sticking to some of the nitty, gritty minutiae you could then launch into your payment policy. How much, when it's due, what happens when one or other party takes a vacation, how and who to pay (you'd be surprised), your policy on late fees (a potentially very destructive element in the day care/parent dynamic if not addressed from the outset), your reservations/deposits procedure and rate increase policy.

Next up I have a general section where I ramble on about the different rooms, programs enacted, beg that toys from home stay at home, information on meals, diaper changing routine and detail a little about my drop off/pick up/settling in procedures (dropping a child off down the chimney is not really encouraged!). !! I include my behaviour policy where I document what actions I will take in specific situations plus what I don't do (duct taping a child to a chair is not really an option!). The toilet training policy emphasizes the importance of parent and provider working together and it's helpful to detail your requirements in terms of clothing etc (it's all very well to have a child run around au naturel at home but when you have vast quantities of toilet training toddlers. Well, think about it!!).

Illness is a problematic area of recurring issues and problems. Set down stringent guidelines for your health and illness policy so that there is no doubt as to what your actions will be given specific symptoms and signs. Ultimately, a sick child needs to go home and you cannot have a contagious child in your day care. My sign doesn't say Doctor's Surgery. Have a specific time frame within which a child must be collected once you have contacted the parents and insist that it be respected. Following on from this you can explain your medication administration policy (both prescribed and non prescribed) which will incorporate the necessary forms.

Communication with parents is vital so let them know your preferred method i.e. informal, verbal report in the evening, individual report sheets or a little daily journal. Reassure them though that, while you may be busy they can also make an appointment to meet with you for a more in-depth discussion should the need arise. Scheduling annual parent/teacher meetings is another effective method of ensuring that everyone is up to date and on the same page.

And that's it!! Your day care contract in a nutshell-cheeky grin. Quite frankly, there is a lot to consider and as your business evolves so will this organic document. You will amend your paperwork on an ongoing basis as needed. I hope my article has been a little helpful in getting you a tad closer to formulating your own contract. . If you need a little more help you can check out my Day Care Paperwork Package at www.childcarepaperwork.com or if you buy my fantastic Start a Day Care DVD Guide you get the paperwork package for FREE www.startchildcare.com. Both you and your day care can only benefit from a well designed contract and though there will be tear your hair out days your formidable contract should help to minimize them.


Day Care Contracts

Having a foolproof, comprehensive contract in place is a vital aspect of your day care business. Spending some time on this crucial document should be one of your high priorities. Speaking from painful exerience, much potential grief and gnashing of teeth can be avoided by having a well crafted contract.

Essentially your day care contract sets out your terms, conditions, policies, rules and procedures and, quite simply, should indicate to all parents who you are, what you do, how you do it, what your expectations are in terms of their behavior and how you deal with complaints and transgressions. There should be no gray areas, nothing left to chance or misinterpretation.

So, how do I get started, I hear you moan, and what should even be in this epic document? It just so happens that, through much trial, error and ongoing learning during my many years of running a day care I have a fairly good idea of the stuff you need to cover. I'll throw you a few hints and tips to get you started but you'll need to build and personalize your own contract. Sorry, you will have to do a bit of work. Now, get that note pad out!!

I would suggest starting, at the beginning (strangely enough) where you can wax lyrical about your mission statement and ethos generally. Follow that with all aspects of the enrolment process i.e. what forms must be completed, exact hours/days that care will be provided, supplies parents must bring, details of your trial period (sometimes things just don't work out) and cover your termination policy (if you kick my cat on your way in you're outta here!). You would be amazed how much incredibly important stuff is often glossed over so be sure and include your opening hours, late collection penalties, what dates you close, total number of children allowed, ratios of staff to child, insurance and license details. Launch from here into your payment policy and really go into the nitty gritty detail so there is no misunderstanding: How much, when it's due, what happens when one or other party takes a vacation, how and who to pay (you'd be surprised), your policy on late fees (a potentially very destructive element in the day care/parent dynamic if not addressed from the outset), your reservations/deposits procedure and rate increase policy.

I have what I call my 'rambling section' where I rattle on about general stuff such as the different programs we offer, meals information, advice on drop off/pick up/settling in procedures (please don't parachute your child in!), diaper changing routine and a few lines where I beg parents not to bring toys in from home!! I include my behaviour policy where I document what actions I will take in specific situations plus what I don't do (duct taping a child to a chair is not really an option!). Parent and provider cooperation is emphasized in the toilet training policy right down to what clothing should be worn (having your child run around naked doing the business at home is one thing; large groups of toilet training toddlers is quite another!).

Illness is a problematic area of recurring issues and problems. Your health and illness policy should state clearly exactly what you will do given specific signs and symptoms. Ultimately, a sick child needs to go home and you cannot have a contagious child in your day care. The sign over the door does not read 'Hospital'. Have a specific time frame within which a child must be collected once you have contacted the parents and insist that it be respected. Your medication administration policy (both prescribed and non prescribed) including all relevant forms could be covered next.

Let parents know what your preferred method of communication regarding their children is whether a casual chat each evening, individual daily written reports or a small note book with daily comments. Should they require a more in depth discussion reassure them that, while you may be busy they are welcome to make an appointment for a sit down meeting. I have found annual parent/teacher meetings a very effective way to keep everyone up to speed.

So, there you have it! The day care contract or parent handbook in a nutshell; grin. Admittedly there is a lot to consider and quite frankly, this is an organic document that will evolve with your business. Stuff will happen and you will amend your paperwork accordingly. However, I hope that my pointers go some way towards getting you on the road to (even thinking) about formulating your contract. If you need a little more help you can check out my Day Care Paperwork Package at www.childcarepaperwork.com or if you buy my fantastic Start a Day Care DVD Guide you get the paperwork package for FREE www.startchildcare.com. Believe me, your contract will save you much grief and minimize the tears shed as you go about running your day care (there will be tears though, but lots of laughs too!!)


Day Care Destruction

I drop in on a child care providers discussion forum from time to time and make comments/suggestions if I feel I can be of help (or just want to join in on a rant!!). Recently, one of the providers had a terrible ongoing problem with a child who was wilfully destroying her property i.e. toys, day care equipment and furniture. The parents laugh it off, ask the child to say an empty 'I'm sorry' and offer no discussion nor action for remedy. As you can imagine this poor lady is at her wits end. To date the child has deliberately destroyed over $200 worth of items. All too often day care providers can be faced with very delicate situations when handling difficult behavior in a child.

Difficult and challenging behaviors can be a tough fact of day care life. The reasons for said behaviors can be various but all need to be dealt with from the outset in a firm and consistent manner. When it becomes clear that a child is being continuously disruptive, destructive and aggresive it is time to 'meet the parents'. Dealing successfully with any challenging behavior necessitates parental cooperation.

Discovering root causes and triggers for the behavior through discussion can help all involved better understand the child and his actions both at home and at day care. A mutual behavior plan should be agreed whereby all parties are cooperating and on the same page. It is vital that consistent and constructive handling of the child be carried out by both parents and provider.

Individual plans can be formulated using your behavior policy as an outline (please tell me you have a behavior policy!). Ensure that you put in place a time frame for implementation and a deadline for reevaluation. This might also be a good time to revise your parent contract to include when parents will be expected to reimburse you for excessive damage caused by their child.

Insert also your 'end of tether' clause where you would be forced to ask a client to withdraw their child due to ongoing issues and lack of cooperation/communication. Don't forget, sometimes professional, outside help is required; that does not indicate failure on the part of either the provider or parent. It is simply the best way forward in some cases.


Handling Difficult Child Behavior At Day Care

A healthy, safe environment in a pre-school can facilitate children's needs by developing necessary skills to develop their social and behavioral milestones. Taking turns, politeness, sharing and making choices are the ordinary preschool activities that offer opportunities for the development of these milestones.

Developing self-discipline in preschoolers can be achieved by: Instead of praising the child, praise the behavior A child's self esteem should be nurtured and encouraged Take into account a child's age and stage of development when setting limits Help children to learn and understand boundaries by using play and games with rules Children will imitate adult behavior so lead by example Do not isolate or humiliate a child When you say 'No' mean it. Consistency is key. Make sure your expectations and rules of behavior are clear Always reward good behavior

Day care workers should use these positive methods of discipline which will in turn encourage self-control, self-direction, self-esteem and cooperation. On the other hand, using the following as a means of correction is never acceptable:

* Hitting, shaking, biting or any other physical restraint

* Never humiliate, threaten or isolate a child- such emotional punishment is unacceptable

* Depriving child of meals or snacks

Unacceptable behaviors i.e. bullying and temper tantrums should be dealt with using a range of strategies. Effective tried and tested methods include:

Remove the child from the situation or distraction techniques Explaining why this behavior is not acceptable Offering the child an opportunity to regain control and become calm

The range of approaches mentioned would apply when dealing with the unpleasant behavior that is 'biting' 'this being deemed pretty difficult behavior also. Children who display challenging behavior should have, with the involvement of parents and carers, a work plan developed specifically for them. When appropriate, parents should be involved, informed and supported to follow these work plans at home. Sometimes it is necessary to seek additional support in the form of outside specialists. This is not a negative thing and should be supported by parents and provider and a positive way forward.

A specific child care worker should, over a set period of time, be supported to work on a one to one basis with a child displaying aggressive or challenging behavior. The aim being that the carer would attempt to extend the child's interests by specifically engaging them in activities thus avoiding the difficult behaviors. Calm, constructive, consistent actions are essentially the most effective method of counteracting challenging behaviors. Remembering this, cooperating with parents and seeing work plans through will result in success.


Involving Parents At Day Care

Day care providers should grab every available opportunity to involve parents and welcome their input. The rewards of this parental participation is mutually beneficial and makes for a positive experience for the children and all concerned. You can share insights that you have gleaned from observing the child at day care and in return parents can provide a wealth of valuable information giving you a holistic picture of the child.

This mutual cooperation allows both parties the opportunity to share effective methods and ideas regarding working with individual children. The day care experience for all concerned is enriched by this listening, respecting and valuing of each other's knowledge. The parents can learn so much about the socialization and interaction of their child from the carer whilst passing on their family values and beliefs to the day care. Opportunites for communication should be provided both formally and informally and information sharing should be ongoing.

Staff assessment in the area of working and communicating with parents may be required in order to maximise the effectiveness of this sharing process. In order that they can communicate effectively and professionally they may need further training and guidelines. Support your staff so that they feel encouraged to participate in this process. You need to ensure enough time is allowed for parent consultation and subsequent follow ups so you may need to consider your current timetable and staffing levels. If parents have particular interests or areas of expertise e.g.storytelling or music encourage them to share it with the children as a kind of guest speaker.

Parents should be able to air their grievances easily and without feeling judged via your complaints procedure. You should view complaints as constructive criticism and a means to improving your service and should be perceived as open, friendly and professional when it comes to comments. Deal with any issues immediately and thank parents for bringing them to your attention. Management should deal with more serious issues but your complaints procedure should also allow for staff to be empowered to deal with certain problems. Allow parents to offer comments anonymously via a suggestion box.

Your orientation and settling in procedure should facilitate parental involvement from the outset. Form a parent's committee so they have a collective voice thus encouraging positive interaction. Parents need a daily point of contact regarding their child so integrate a key worker system into your day care. Provide information about weekly scheduling and activities either by posting details on the noticeboard or sending out a newsletter. In order to avoid any misunderstanding or confusion you should share daily information both verbally and in writing. Have a website with a blog where you can post comments about goings on at the day care and parents can, in turn, post comments. You can include a staff page on here with photos and information.

Parental involvement in your day care can potentially provide you with untold resources heretofore untapped. Parents will be encouraged to give back if they feel valued and supported. Opening up channels of communication and sharing can avoid many misunderstandings and conflicts that are borne out of lack of information. A friendly, welcoming and open day care should be your ultimate goal. An all inclusive day care is a happy day care.


Tips For Stopping Whining

In a day care environment a chorus of multiple whiners can seriously challenge your sanity and we all know how draining and irritating a whining child can be. The constant, ongoing, nerve grating torture that is a whiny child is much harder to handle than a full blown, short lived tantrum. Don't despair, you can restore an atmosphere of peace and serenity by implementing the following methods thus dealing with your offending whinemaster.

Many whining scenarios are precipitated by simple factors such as hunger, tiredness, boredom and feeling unwell. Attempting to identify if any of these are the triggers can help minimize the whinefest. However, sometimes whining has simply become a way of communicating for some children and, if not dealt with can continue for many years as a very unattractive trait. Though there is no sure fire way of curing whining there are methods you can use to help prevent outbreaks.

Attracting adult attention can often be the reason a child whines usually as a last resort. The whine is the final result of their escalating attempts to gain recognition. Adults, we have the power to acknowledge the little ones. You can often preempt the annoying behavior by simply listening to what kids are trying to say. Get down to their level and find out what's going on. Sometimes a little face time, perhaps doing some quiet activity is all it takes. Peaceful times can often be achieved via a little constructive attention.

Children need to learn the difference between various tones of voice and discovering how whining sounds is no different. Explain to the child that a whiny voice is not pleasant, that people don't like it and they stop listening. Help them to understand the negative effect of that sound by involving them in role play or tape recording the whiny voice versus the normal voice. Listening to themselves as a third party can be effective in helping them understand why whining is bad. Remember to praise the use of a normal voice when appropriate.

A child will whine when she is unable to express herself. Instead of reprimanding a child in these instances try to help her verbalize her feelings or needs. Help her with the verbage so she is encouraged to tell you what is wrong. The child will have less reason to whine when she has the opportunity to discuss her feelings and needs. The realisation that talking about her issues is more productive than whining will result from your positive attention.

When a child is whining distraction is a great tool for ending the tirade. The whines can be silenced by completely switching the subject and animatedly indicating something fun. 'Does that bird have an umbrella?'. A bored child is a whiney child so recognise the signs of a kid on the road to boredom city. Introduce a fun and compelling activity thus anticipating and ending tedium. The whining option won't be considered when a child is busy.

Don't do negative attention because a child seeking recognition recognises any attention as a good thing. Try not to shout. You don't want to set negative standards or expectations so don't label a child as a whiner. Never capitulate and remain calm. You are the adult and must remain in control regardless of your quickly vanishing sanity. The last thing you want is for the child to break you and to realise that persistence pays off. They must realise that only a normal voice elicits a positive response. Peace and tranquillity is possible just hang in there.


Creative Play at Day Care

As day care providers we are responsible for the safety and well being of the children in our care. We are not however merely babysitters, nor referees at some chaotic miniature wrestling event (though often times it feels that way) but facilitators, entrusted with the important task of nurturing and developing the whole child. A vital aspect of this facilitation role is encouraging creativity and imagination. Opening the door to various creative outlets will ensure that children will lead a richer more complete life. Here are a few tips and starting points to help cultivate creation.

Kids will learn to grow and appreciate the arts, culture and beauty following even small amounts of exposure to same. When possible arrange brief visits to the art gallery, museum or craft fair so that kids get an overview of different forms of art. Introduce music to the curriculum by playing different styles of music and have the kids dance and move about plus arrange trips to see plays and musical performances. Get out on nature walks to show the kids first hand the natural beauty surrounding them, introduce sand and water for experimental play and discover the multitude of creative activities available in the kitchen. Reading is vital and should be encouraged. Stories at story time can become rambling yarns that become plays that take on a life of their own. No limits!

A love of music is naturally inbuilt into kids. Improvising with whatever is available get the musical instruments out and let the orchestra loose. Begin having theatrical, singing workshops that breathe life and vibrancy into songs. Remember to praise all artistic attempts no matter how off the wall it appears to you personally.

Creative play tends towards the messy end of the scale; let it be so. Order is not a concept that sits well with creative spirits so, difficult though it may be to see your impeccable playroom descend into chaos, try to rise above it. You can attempt to minimize some of the damage by using aprons, laying newspaper or spreading a tarp.Let them off with their creative processes and don't try to direct their efforts. Every work of art is personal and meaningful and should be the direct result of freedom of expression, even for toddlers. Ask questions, encourage discussion, help with a particular process should they ask and never criticize.

Many and wondrous are the benefits of imaginative and creative play. Experimentation with verbal skills is likely as children feel less threatened in imaginary situations. Active problem solving and expression of fears or concerns are also encouraged via role play. A child will grow in confidence as his heretofore untapped talents are released through creative endeavors. Welcome to the magical land of the imagination where boredom is no more!


Marketing Your Day Care Online

Your day care business can benefit enormously from having a website and blog. I have connected with a lot of clients that otherwise might not have found me or might have overlooked my service in favor of one of the above. There are many bigger, faster, shinier, more centrally located days with bigger advertising budgets than mine.

People were impressed with my website; with the pictures, information and 'glimpse inside' that it offered. They liked the beautiful setting, the family run element and our montessori program. They felt like they knew us already thanks to the 'personal touch' effect of the website.

Having an online presence has many advantages in terms of marketing and simply communicating with current and potential clients. A professional website is worth considering and is not difficult to create or maintain. A vibrant, regularly updated site and blog can sell your business better than anything else. Make sure it is easily navigable and well stocked with information about you and your business.

Granted it took a few months of work submitting my site to online business directories and ensuring I had all my meta tags and keywords up to speed but ultimately it was worth it. Most google and other search engine queries for day care in my area will have my business listed in the first few results.

Pictures of your day care should abound, both interior and exterior - nice bright shots of your playrooms and playgrounds. Help parents understand what your day care offers by incorporating details of important policies, your educational curriculum and what you charge. You can include downloads of your day care contract and parent handbook - the more information you provide the less questions they're going to have.

Having a blog associated with your site is a lovely idea and keeps both present and future clients updated and involved. I just recently revamped my site adding a blog (I use wordpress and highly recommend it) and am already reaping the rewards and hearing lots of nice feedback. Consider having a staff page with pictures and mini biographies of your carers (even it it's just you). People love that personal touch and feel that you are less of a stranger to them.


Crying Babies

Whether at home or at day care crying is a physiological process in the life of a baby. All normal babies cry to communicate with others. Since they can't express their feelings in words crying is the only way for communication. If feeling uncomfortable in any way they simply cry. Normally babies cry in particular situations for example hunger, soiled diaper, too hot or cold, tight clothes, pain etc.

There are children who demand constant attention and, if not forthcoming, they cry. Crying without any cause is habitual in some babies. Crying, whether with or without cause is extremely distressing for parents or carers. Since the reasons for crying ranges from simple causes to more serious ones it should not be ignored thus exact cause must be identified and managed accordingly.

Here are some basic considerations when faced with a distressed child.

1, Never vigorously shake a baby.

2, Tight, restrictive clothing can irritate delicate skin and should be loosened.

3, Check room temperature and if too warm open the window or turn on the fan.

4, Check to see if the diaper is soiled and change.

5, Make soothing noises as you gently stroke her head or back.

6, The baby may be hungry to offer the breast or bottle.

7, Swaddle with extra covers if the room is cold.

8, Pace the bedroom slowly whilst gently rocking the child.

9, Use a musical toy to soothe.

10, A pacifier can be a great comfort.

11, Move the baby into a different position.

12, A breath of fresh air might do you both good so head outside.

13, Rock the cradle.

14, Perhaps try changing to a different set of arms i.e. ask dad to carry her.

If even after all these steps the baby continues to cry check for the following;

(probable cause is given after every sign)

1, Gently press on the child's tummy - if she writhes or resists you then she may have colic.

2, Pull her ear gently she may become worse or push your hands away:---Earache.

3, Check her temperature - if she has a fever she could have an infection.

4, Examine the skin from head to foot:--Eruptive disease,diaper rash,measles,vesicles,allergy etc.

5, Discharge from the nose - coryza.

6, Move the head gently to feel any neck stiffness:--Meningitis,head injury etc.

7, Listen to her chest for any labored breathing or rattling - An increase in mucus could indicate many illnesses e.g. bronchiolitis, asthamatic bronchitis, pneumonia etc.

8, Examine the anal orifice:--Anal erosion,rectal polyp,crawling of worms.

9, Check the genitalia - Any wounds or discharge.

10, In male baby see the testicles which may be swollen or tender:--Orchitis,torsion of testes.

11, Generally observe the body and it's movements for signs of vomiting, convulsions, labored breathing, rigors or cough.

If you see the above signs or any other abnormal signs consult your doctor for proper treatment.


Kid Safety At Day Care

Things that are good.

1, Always keep your child neat and clean.

2, Clip nails carefully and regularly.

3, Wet and soiled diapers should be removed promptly and child cleaned thoroughly.

4, Ensure genitals are clean and dry at all times in order to avoid fungal infection.

5,Care of the scalp is very important.Fungal infections, dermatitis ect can be prevented by proper cleaning.

6, Ensure clothing is loose and airy as tight clothes can be irritating to the skin.

7,Room should have sufficient light and ventilation. It should be free from dust and dirt.

8, Arrange a appropriate sized bed with a waterproof undersheet for the child.

9, Always keep some music making toys near babies and children.

10, The neck muscles in a young baby are weak so always support the head with your hand.

11, Mothers milk is the best nutrition for the baby,it also gives emotional attachment. Breast milk should be given as per the babies need preferably with mom in sitting position. Proper cleaning of nipple is also necessary. Mom should have a good nutritious diet throughout lactating period.

12, Bottle feeding moms should clean, sterilise and keep dry feeding bottles.

13, Microwave heating of drinks is not recommended due to possibility of scalding.

14, Milk, fibers, food and cosmetics can cause allergies. If child is exhibiting an allergic reaction try to discover the offending allergen through a process of elimination.

15, Always use mosquito nets. Malaria, filariasis, dengue and yellow fever are spread through bites. Sleep can also be disturbed due to itchy, enflamed skin eruptions.

16, Ensure you have a calm, consistent bedtime routine to encourage healthy sleep. Kids need lots of sleep. Growth hormones kick in during REM so napping kids are busy.

17, As kids pass the different age milestones keep a record of language, growth, behavioral, motor and personal social development. Everyone is different so parents shouldn't panic if slight variations are noted.

18, Regular measurement of weight and height is essential to asses growth.

19, Expect lots of poops after most feeds in the early days. Initiate toilet training as child gets more independent. Introduce the sitting on the toilet seat from 10 months.

20. Always thoroughly sanitize the toilet seat. Sharing with other kids isn't encouraged.

21, Call the doctor is child exhibits the following signs or symptoms; convulsions, difficulty breathing, excessive crying, fever with rigor, frequent vomiting with diarrhoea, stiffness of neck or bluish discoloration of the body.

22, Keep a fully stocked first aid kit to hand which should contain dressing, sterile cotton and antiseptic lotion. Note all emergency numbers and keep in an obvious place.

23, Keep all child medications in a seperate box. Note all dosage and administration details.

24, Ensure you have the correct car seat fitted.

25, Attach an identity card to your child's clothes with your address and telephone number.

26, Supervise a child learning to walk to minimize accidents.

27, In the event of an accident perform necessary first aid steps and get victim to hospital asap.

The Do Nots

1, No shaking baby as it can cause brain damage.

2, Remove any small items in vicinity of child.

3, Same goes for sharp or pointed items.

4, When in the bath don't let water get into the ears.

5, If a child is coughing or crying a lot don't try to get them to eat.

6, Careful you don't overfeed.

7, Keep any dangerous or toxic substances out of child's reach.

8, Ensure child's clothing is not restrictive.

9, Care should be taken if your baby is on the bed that they do not fall off.

10, Avoid close contact with lots of people and never hand your baby to a stranger.

11, Childproof all electrical sockets and wires.

12, Kitchens are full of potential dangers. Never leave a child alone there.

13, Supervise your child the entire time they are in the tub. Keep water level low.

14, Don't smoke around children.

15, Keep pets at a distance (ensure they have received all shots).

16, Install gates on stairs where young children are crawling or wobbling.

17, Avoid strong light in the bedroom.

18, Don't accept food from strangers when traveling.

19, Don't allow a child to crawl in the dirt.

20, Keep kids away from sick people.

21, Avoid areas of pollution, large crowds and hospital wards.

22, Keep free standing lights away from kids.

23, Never give medicine that has been prescribed for someone else to your child.

24, If medication has passed the expiry date do not use it.


Start A Day Care - Ultimate Marketing Event

When opening a day care you are constantly and desperately looking for ways to market your new business. . A well publicized Open Day is the secret, highly effective marketing event that anyone starting a day care can organize. I held one when opening my day care and it proved to be my most successful marketing endeavor reaping rewards to this day.

This magical 'Open Day' can be organized just before or, shortly after, you open a day care. The purpose of the event is to allow prospective clients to come and view your facility, ask questions and generally discover your amazing day care service. I deliberately organized a fantabulous event so will detail exactly what my Open Day entailed thus giving you some ideas for when you start a day care.

- I bargained with my local radio station prior to the big day and organized some on air advertising. I figured most of my customers would be commuting so I arranged to have the ads run during drive time.

- The radio station threw in a guest appearance by their fleet of personalized, fun cars plus staff handing out fun gifts. They really added to the festive, special feel of the day.

- Rounding up a few local kids I had them distribute some promotional flyers locally.

My intention was to entice people in by providing a fun, family day out and to that end I arranged;

- A bouncy castle.

- Face painting.

- Story telling.

- Clowns.

- Snacks for everyone.

- Local politician to do the official opening ceremony (so all the local newspapers came to take pictures and do a feature - free!).

I opened my day care for tours so people could see first hand what I had to offer;

- Polished presentation is very important when showcasing your day care. I carefully arranged the layout of all equipment in every room in order to show the day care to best effect.

- Staff were positioned in all the rooms ready to talk, answer questions and hand out business cards.

- As the day care owner you should be around to welcome people and answer questions.

- We also arranged a raffle and asked people to provide their contact details (nice little database thank you) with the prize being a voucher for the day care.

It was a great day and I still get business from people who attended, saw an advert or simply heard about it on the radio. Word of mouth advertising resulting from this event was also phenomenal. A well organized, properly planned open day will be fun and memorable and people will talk about it. Many of my clients heard about me from friends or relatives who had attended and left impressed with my day care. So, when opening a day care put your events hat on and utilize the best day care marketing tool out there.


Day Care Licensing Tips

If you wish to start a day care you need to find out about day care licensing. There is a procedure involved in getting your day care licensed and the more prepared you are the more seamless it will be. Learning about the requirements for a day care license is a great way to discover exactly what is required and whether or not you are fully ready and able to embark on a business in child care.

International and state day care licensing requirements, application procedures and regulations vary and you'll need to do the research for your area. . Details for your particular area can be found here: USA http://nrc.uchsc.edu and Canadian licensing and regulations information can be found here: http://canada.gc.ca/othergov/prov_e.html . Ofsted deal with UK licensing: http://www.ofsted.gov.uk/childcare and in Ireland the Health Service Executive handle day care registration applications.

You will need to ensure that you are offering a safe, hygienic day care environment that supports healthy nutrition, appropriate activities and the overall development and protection of the child because that is exactly what the day care licensing process is designed to do. Taking into consideration all of the above a detailed evaluation of the proposed service is conducted before a day care license will be issued.

The first step in applying for a day care license is the application form. Information required on this application form shall include, but not be limited to:

- Personal and contact details

- Plans for the premises showing layout, playground and facilities

- Hours of opening and number of children catered for

- Details of staff

- Details of the program you intend implanting

- Menu information and schedules

Details of the financial resources available

Once submitted you will undergo an initial consultation with the licensing representatives to discuss the feasibility of starting a program in your area, review the regulations and examine your financial resources. An assessment of the facility to determine if it will comply with the regulations shall be carried out by a licensing evaluator during an announced, preliminary visit. During this visit the following will be examined:

- Your telephone must work

- Fire detection facilities

- Adequate fire extinguishers

- That all hazardous substances are stored appropriately

- Adequate heating and ventilation

- That the overall facility is safe

- The premises must be hygienic and clean

- That all toys and educational equipment is safe and appropriate

You will be issued or denied a day care license following review of your entire application process. Generally, licenses are valid for a year and must be displayed in a conspicuous place at all times. Get up to date and stay on top of regulations with the following resources: Building Blocks * the latest guidelines are contained in this document in an easily accessed and understandable format. Also, Stepping Stones * good source of key health and safety practices that reduce disease disability and death in child care facilities. Your chances of success in applying for day care licensing increase dramatically if you arm yourself with knowledge in advance, so, do the preparation and good luck starting your day care.


Why Daycare Regulations Are Your Friend

Daycare regulations are a vital and necessary element of the day care industry. Many of us already feel swamped by our daily tasks, limitless red tape and view the rules as a threat and an inconvenience. Sinking in a sea of bureaucracy we tend to forget that this legislation serves a good end. Although our world in general appears to becoming more bureaucracy happy much of this legislation exists for a reason. It has been formulated specifically to protect those who are most at risk in our society.

Daycare regulations, however, really only ensure that the minimum standards of care are being met. There is much above and beyond the stated rules that can be done to improve the quality of care and early education children are receiving. I like to think of the regulations and my inspection reports as guidelines, tools for updating the service I provide.

I don't view them as a criticism of what I do but as a priceless workbook that inspires and aids me to further improve upon what I am doing. If I were to hire an expensive consultancy firm to evaluate the effectiveness and quality of my business I don't believe they would provide me with as much relevant, valuable information. We get it all through our daycare regulations and inspections.

I keep a copy of the regulations for my region posted on the notice board in the entryway to my day care, one on my desk and one in the staff room. Following my inspections the report becomes my bible, my ultimate focus until such time as I have addressed every issue raised therein regardless of how minor. Then, I post the report (you guessed it), in the entryway, on my desk and in the staff room with an 'Actioned' sticker beside each suggested improvement.

In my experience, the 'points' raised in the report tend to be helpful tips towards operating more effectively and safely on day to day issues rather than pointing out major violations. I take these comments on board because they are emanating from highly trained, seasoned experts who see it all on a daily basis - the daycare regulations experts.


Tips For Great Daycare Menus

So many people panic about daycare menus, what they should and shouldn't do, what needs to be included to cover the requirements of the dreaded food pyramid and generally get themselves in an awful tizzy about something that simply requires a little common sense. When cooking for a day care you need to ensure you are providing nutritious meals, that the food preparation process is hygienic and that the meals you are providing are easily prepared in bulk.

Keep your approach down home simple and focus on healthy, easily prepared meals. Your mom and grandma could probably give you some tips on one pot meals that would be ideal for your daycare menus. You don't need to be super chef just a mom in the kitchen. The range of options available is huge and can include thick soups, steamed vegetables, stews, casseroles, pasta, fish and seasonal fruit. Snacks are a breeze with raisins, cheese, rice cakes, carrot sticks, crackers, yogurts and sandwiches. My day care is in Ireland and I don't provide food (check if this is an option in your area) so we reheat the meals that the kids bring in. Frozen, pre packaged dinners that you reheat as needed are another option. Delivery to your day care is part of the service for many companies who prepare these frozen meals. You may have to build this into your price as it proves slightly more expensive.

Health, safety and hygiene procedures must be in place when wherever food preparation occurs. You are protecting not only the children you feed but also yourself and your day care business. You must be able to prove that you are not to blame should a case of food poisoning break out. This can be achieved by formulating a food safety policy which will detail all the steps and procedures in place at your day care to achieve food safety.

Check for menus posted on the internet as my day cares will have details on their websites. Talk to local providers about their menus. Booklets and information should be available from your child care licensing inspector. Remember thought that this shouldn't be rocket science and simple, home cooked food is the key when compiling your daycare menus.


Types Of Afterschool Daycare Curriculum

After school activities are the rage of the day but the importance of an appropriate daycare curriculum to structure these activities shouldn't be underestimated. With about $500 million invested in these programs and more than 10 million children attending them in America alone, the popularity of these activities cannot be overlooked. Everyone understands the need to develop new skills, gain more knowledge and keep the children safe when parents are working.

Healthy relationships between the children attending the after school and the adults running the program are key to success. Adults running these programs are in the unique position of being neither parent nor teacher thus opening up possible channels of communication between adult and child that might not exist in the other environments. These kids are growing and changing and this type of positive emotional interaction is vital in helping them deal with personal issues.

These 'out of the normal category' adults can have a profoundly positive impact on children. Their wisdom, insight and experience will doubtless impress the children. The mentors in these after school programs serve as role models and can directly and indirectly pass on a multitude of knowledge and wisdom to the kids. Their unique position enables them to build the kind of relationships that will result in the kids drawing inspiration from their mentors.

After school activities that are managed professionally by people who are successful in their own fields of expertise will produce children who are more enthusiastic and successful. Meaningful interaction with adults is a learning experience in itself. Most after school activities can be broadly classified into three - recreational, educational and society-oriented. The last bit usually comes in when the child is already a bit grown up and can voice his own interests.

Educational activities aim at furthering the knowledge of the child. Different techniques are used to improve memory, general understanding and awareness. Programs such as intensive memory training and speed mathematics are educational after school activities. Many subjects can be covered to improve the child's general knowledge in addition to help with homework and reiteration of class work. Thus academic programs have a definite edge over the fun and games, especially if parents feel that their child has a lot of catching up to do.

Fine arts, sports, physical games, board games etc and painting are included in recreational activities. Fun is the driving force behind these programs. Inevitably a competitive element will appear as children become more proficient. Encouragement to improve one's skills comes in the form of competitions, theatrical events and sporting occasions.

When we compare the merits of the two kinds of activities, the recreational programs often have more meat. Firstly, children do not enjoy learning unless they themselves feel curious about something. Most academic programs are standardized courses that are not too flexible. They have a general purpose and a well laid out methodology. After a number of hours at school, the child may feel bored. Further study may overwhelm him and make him feel frustrated. Burnout is very much a possibility here.

Conventional academic learning is tiring and somewhat monotonous so a recreational program gives children a break, a change of routine. Physical activity and being outdoors in the fresh air energizes children and instils in them a wonderful sense of wellbeing. Patience, discipline and social interaction skills are learned through working in a team. Children who take part in such activities tend to get good results at school and are better all rounders. You need that break from the books in order to remain fresh and a fun game can often be what is needed.

Consistent, thorough evaluation is vital regardless what after school program you choose for your day care. Constant gauging of the children's development is necessary. Your daycare curriculum may need modification if progress is not satisfactory. Also, children should be empowered to choose and discard activities as suits their interest levels. The perfect daycare curriculum combines a balance of both recreational and academic so that children are challenged at every level. Never underestimate the effectiveness of fun when dealing with kids.


Are Day Care Regulations And Daycare Requirements The Same Thing?

Let's not confuse daycare requirements and day care regulations. One is the building block upon which the other is built. Day care regulations are in place in order to ensure that minimum standards of care are adhered to. Thereafter you are required to ensure they are applied in a relevant fashion within your day care.

The health, welfare, safety and wellbeing of the children are covered by the regulations which are the law and therefore a given in any day care. If you desire an exceptional, above average child care center to be your domain then you need build upon the legal requirements. You need to consider that you might be in the wrong business if you haven't already gone above and beyond that which is writ.

When running a day care adding your personal touch and attention is as important as the serious, bottom line aspect of the business. While you must always keep the practical, bottom line, business aspect in mind you must also be aware of the small additions and tweaks that can make your daycare that bit better and more personable than the others.

Little things make a difference for example, calling and reassuring a mom who is upset by a tantrum throwing child goes above and beyond the required parental communication directive. When starting a new child offer reassuring words to the emotional torn and distraught mother whilst still maintaining the calm and professional demeanour required on the front line.

When purchasing equipment for your day care ensure it complies with all safety regulations but also consider the children's enjoyment and comfort. Compile a health and safety checklist that allows you to easily asses your facility, replacing and repairing regularly instead of waiting for the inspection report.

In my opinion, day care regulations are there to be exceeded in so many ways thus ensuring the ultimate in quality care for your clients. Your daycare requirements are that you go that extra nine yards to make your business the best business.


Are Daycare Franchises An Option? Should I Opt For A Montessori Day Care?

The realisation that starting a day care is a pretty enormous task slams into you as you slide your resignation across the desk to your ex boss. Weighty questions must be tackled, decisions must be made e.g. Montessori day care or Steiner, daycare franchises or go it alone and the to do list continues to grow.

A day care franchise can be a great, no fuss, instant business way to go. Customer loyalty is more easily acquired thanks to instant brand recognition. Generally there will be a development process in place to help with funding acquisition, unit selection, the construction process, getting licensed, training and launching your business.

Ongoing direction and support for staff may be included in the package along with a proprietary curriculum and building design templates. Advertising effectively and successfully will be a breeze with the use of a recognized brand plus tried and tested operations manuals and paperwork will mean a lot less headaches. Home office support can be part of come franchises also.

There is no doubting the appeal of all of the above. However, franchises are extremely pricey and require an upfront financial commitment plus proof of a healthy net worth (and that's before you even open your doors). Now, where did I leave that goose with the golden egg laying capabilities??

Onwards to the curriculum consideration. There are many, excellent programs to choose from so you really need to do some thorough research to establish which method might best suit your day care (or you could just draw straws :-)). Ever thoughtful, I've compiled a list of the better known programs with a short synopsis to help you on your way:

Play based - children learn through focused play Montessori - development is observed by the teacher, who neither interfere nor get in the way but support the child Waldorf Method - based on the concept that the children must love to learn therefore they learn through play, imitation and imagination.

High/Scope - teachers are facilitators as children have responsibility for their work and learn through doing Reggio Emilio � focuses on the natural development of the child in relation to their environment Piaget - interaction based Steiner - based on the belief that education should be designed to meet the changing needs of children as they develop

While daycare franchises may not be the route for you they definitely have a lot of appeal to those with a little extra cash and not much time. Your curriculum definitely requires lots of thought and whilst I find my Montessori day care to be a wonderful learning environment, so to are many of the other excellent methods.


Making Puppets For Day Care

Puppets can mean many things to preschool children. Puppet play can lead to increased self expression and creativity. It can instill a love of dramatics, encourage speech from otherwise reluctant orators and greatly improve communication between teachers and children. Home made puppets are best especially when children can assist in their creation. Generally, puppets fall into four different categories.

Hand puppets - A hand puppet is simply a piece of fabric with a hole for each arm and one for the head or just use a three fingered glove. Simply trace around a child's hand for size and use a small, light ball, foam or polystyrene ball for the head. Hair and a face can be stitched on drawn on the fabric encasing the ball and remember to cut a hole in the ball to accommodate the fingers. You can go wild with the fabrics you use for the body and have detachable features so that one puppet can be many characters.

Stick puppets - A stick puppet is easily made using a piece of wood with a head stuck on top. A wooden ball will work for the head with painted or detachable features. A piece of fabric, with holes for arms, can quickly be transformed into a magnificent cloak. If you are in need of a quick fix stick puppet simply use a wooden spoon, envelope in a dramatic cloak and hey presto!

Animal puppets - Socks can be utilized to make animal puppets by simply attaching the obvious features i.e. big, felt ears and a trunk for an elephant, whiskers and beady eyes makes a mouse (and a variety of other rodent like creatures - the sky's the limit!). Recycle old stuffed or vinyl animals by cutting off the head for use as a puppet or removing the stuffing.

Finger puppets - These require a small head so a bead or small piece of foam covered with stretchy fabric would suffice. A cape style tunic is the body with a pipe cleaner running through the sleeves functioning as arms. The cape is stitched to the fabric of the head. The success of a finger puppet is in the details, the tiny features and accessories make each one special.

So, when you have your puppet dramatic ensemble you can fashion a rough stage/theater perhaps using the window of a play house or constructing an arch on top of a table finished off with some curtains. Let the show begin!


Working in a Day Care

Working in a day care means juggling multiple roles and relationships in conjunction with all the daily duties and responsibilities inherent in childcare - hope you weren't hoping for an easy life! But what exactly is the role of the day care worker and what are the significant relationships that must be nurtured in order for a harmonious, safe and effective environment to exist?

The worker and child relationship is the generally the most obvious one. A child's day care experience should be an enriching one involving learning, creativity and play which are facilitated by the caregivers. Needless to say children should be cared for in a warm and understanding manner so the day care worker will need an extremely caring temperament.

Many and varied are the necessary skills of the day care worker. These include an eagle eye on a safe environment, the ability to facilitate the learning of the independent child, giving that child the necessary support to participate in learning activities, encouraging individuality and self confidence, recognizing that each child develops at their own pace, encouraging caring personalities in the classroom and buckets of patience.

It is vital that all workers in a day care environment work well together. The needs of the children are paramount and as such effective teamwork is essential. Communication, cooperation, understanding and respect are key elements of the workers' relationship. Chaos and confusion can ensue should one person misunderstand or disrespect the objectives and focus of the day care service.

Constructive criticism and plans for improvement can result following regular review and planning sessions which will also develop positive communication and interaction between staff. A comment book coupled with frequent verbal updates can provide effective daily communication. Ensuring continuing standards and regular monitoring of staff progress can only be achieved through scheduled management evaluation of staff.

Appropriate qualifications are a given in a childcare environment and management should have available, and encourage participation in ongoing training. This brings us to the incredibly important area of support and supervision of staff. In order to do their job effectively day care workers require this support which can take the form of supervision by a senior member of staff, an emotionally and physically healthy working environment, adequate pay and an easily accessible supervisor should the need arise.

Finally, a very important, yet often overlooked relationship is that of worker and parent. Open communication with the parents is vital for the best interests of the child. Both parties should be on the same page when it comes to the development of the child. Parents should have easy access to all policies and procedures associated with the day care which should be clear and concise. Encourage and welcome all parental involvement and input.

Possessing the above qualities and abilities are essential if you wish to work in the day care setting and if you have any doubts about your suitability then you may need to seriously consider an alternate profession. Despite the varied duties, responsibilities and difficulties attached to this career it is a rewarding one for the right personality.


Should You Start A Day Care In An Economic Downturn?

We're blue in the face hearing about our recessionary times, heard about the continuing economic downturn and are already tired of listening to the doom and gloom emanating from the experts. Should you start a day care business in spite of all this you ponder? Honestly, this could be a great time to start your new child care business. Tough times for many can be a golden egg for some. Certain ventures will flourish in the toughest of financial times - because they research, identify a niche market and service the need of that market.

Times may be tough, downsizing may be the byword of the year yet people will still need to work to survive thus people will still need childcare. Their income levels and conditions of employment may change so they will in turn be looking to make changes in the day care department. Cost will be a huge factor and, sadly, much cost cutting is made in the area of child care. Expensive, fancy day cares will see clientele trickle out in search of more affordable options.

These affordable options are a niche; but how can you make your day care one of these 'recession attractive' businesses? Starting a home day care is considerably less expensive than opening a large day care center. You can staff it yourself with a family member or local person as an assistant, kit it out for very little (if you already have kids you probably have a lot of the equipment anyway) by foraging in charity shops and contacting everyone you know who may be offloading toys and educational equipment (there are may recycling websites out there also), offset your expenses against your taxes and save on transportation costs (no more commute to work!). These are all savings that you can pass on to your clients in terms of fee reductions.

Clever local market research is essential. What are the needs of your local community and can you address those needs in your day care thus making it unique and in demand. If you have a home day care make it stand out from the competition by being very professional and having a structured curriculum. People moving from larger day cares won't be expecting to find a quality learning environment in a home day care. So, this is your chance to add the 'wow' factor and convert them into your clients.

Perhaps your locality has a lot of hospitals, factories or industries where people are required to work shift work? This tends to be a hugely under supplied area of care. Is there a need for a daycare/language school for foreign nationals settling here? Most towns have a substantial demand for overnight care which is also generally under supplied. Could that be your golden egg? Parents can find it very difficult to find quality, convenient before and after school care so if your day care is situated close to schools you may have found your niche.

Recession or not, there is always a demand for certain types of child care. Your job is to figure out what the needs of your locality are, what gaps are in the market, and fill them. Clever research and due diligence are the keys to getting it right from the outset. If you really want to start a day care then you will start a day care - pure and simple!


Promoting Your Day Care Equals More Customers

Fill your day care with children of contented parents by getting an edge on your competition thus ensuring your business stands out from the dull crowd. In order to achieve this desirable end you can take some small, cheap, easy to implement steps that will guarantee results. You need to imbue your business with unique traits that will ensure your success so a little investment of time, thought and some money is essential.

You want parents to know that you provide excellent quality child care but how do you convey that to a nervous, cynical parent on a visit to your day care? Effective policies will indicate to parents the philosophy of your service and how your agreed and consistent methods of doing things will ensure the wellbeing of their children. They will clearly define what procedures occur in relation to certain events and should essentially; outline a step by step guide to how your day care is run.

Accountability and consistency are key and these should be evident in your clear, concise policies which should, in turn, paint a picture of the definitive understandings, guidelines and expectations inherent in your daily operations. It is vital that you meet all legislative requirements and your policies should reflect current best practice indicating that you are on top of your business and constantly striving for perfection.

Gaining a third party accreditation is a great way to differentiate your day care from the herd. Rubber stamping from a respected organization screams respectability and quality to potential parents. You will need to pay an annual joining fee and undergo an assessment by one of their inspectors (but you won't have anything to worry about because you're already doing everything right anyway!). Once accredited you can slap that recognition on every bit of promotional material you possess.

These organizations can also provide tremendous support to day care owners in the form of information, training, publications, workshops and conferences. Accreditation can be acquired from some of the following places: National Association for Family Childcare - www.nafcc.org

Canadian Childcare Federation - http://www.cccf-fcsge.ca/home_en.html

National Association for Education of Young Children - www.naeyc.org

National After school Association - www.naaweb.org Council on Accreditation - www.coanet.org

Unfortunately, horror stories abound focusing on children being abused and neglected in day cares all over the world. Take every possible step to provide parents with evidence that yours is a legitimate, quality, caring day care. Get yourself background checked and display the results for all to see. A small fee will procure this valuable service from a professional company. Have an open door policy and promote it with gusto. If you want to see pure relief wash over a parent's face think about installing a CCTV in your service. The peace of mind from being able to see your little one on a daily basis is invaluable.

Taking some or all of the above mentioned steps will enhance your service exponentially in the eyes of new parents. Easing some of their apprehension and fear from the outset will begin the growth of the trust process so vital for people looking for day care. If you can put their minds at rest, even just a smidgeon, you will have the edge on your competition and could be looking at lots of new clients.


Day Care Toileting Accidents

'I was too late' or 'I had an accident and peed my pants' are refrains all too familiar to anyone involved in working with toilet training children at day care. Whether a novice at the potty training process or an experienced toileter having a bad day, toilet training accidents are par for the course in every preschool.

These leakages occur for a variety of reasons including untrained bladders/bowels not sending the message to the brain fast enough, kids being just too busy playing and learning to want to go to the pesky bathroom and simply because a child is having a bad day (happens to us all).

Either way, we day care owners must be on hand to clean up both child and bathroom, comfort with encouraging words and get smiles back on faces as confidence rebuilding occurs.

So, what simple steps can we take to minimize toileting accidents and ease the clean up process. It is vital to offer regular reminders to visit the potty which used in conjunction with an awareness of the child's developmental level and a knowledge of their routines can be very effective. Even if they child doesn't actually 'go' you are getting them into the habit of regular toilet visits. All attempts are an achievement and should be commended. Be aware of the 'busy bees' who are so excited about their activities in the class room that they hold it, and hold it until????

Have a toileting emergency pack to hand near each potty area including disposable shoe covers, gloves, sanitizer, cloths and large absorbent tissues for a quick clean up. Ensure you can easily access the child's spare clothes bag (a reserve stash of three sets of clothes should be a requirement for each potty training child) and have a plastic bag in the emergency pack for any soiled items). Don't forget to sanitize the bottom of little shoes that may have walked in the offending substances!!

All the above steps can help to ease everyone through these little dramas. Remember, these accidents are destined to occur and it's not advisable to get caught out. Be prepared and you can sail through each episode.




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