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How Do I Keep my Daycare Full? Parent Involvement is Key!

How do i keep my daycare full? Parent involvement is key!

Success in childcare can be elusive sometimes. Providing the absolute best quality you possibly can is very important. But letting your parents know what you are doing and that you are doing your very best is just as important. If you want to sit on the couch all day and let the parents hand you money for ignoring their kids, you are not going to find success.

Other providers ask me how I am full and have a waiting list when they can’t find kids. Parents need to know you care about their kids. If you go above and beyond doing the absolute best for their kids, people will tell their friends and you will not have trouble finding new families to provide care for.

Find what you LOVE doing. For me, preschool is the absolute most fun, so I concentrate on being as awesome as I can be with preschoolers. And recently I stopped keeping babies at all. I love babies, but I was always frustrated trying to do a project with the kids and needing to stop and hold a baby or feed or change a baby. I just realized I am better with preschool age. Some people want to cuddle and snuggle babies all day. That’s great, they should care for babies. Some people are good at all ages. No longer taking infants was the right choice for me. If you just don’t have fun working with kids, you should find something else to do. The kids deserve your best.


Once you find your niche, try to be your best every day. Some days my best totally sucks. Some days I’m a rock star. I let it go when I don’t have my best day, and try harder the next day. Everyone has bad days and that doesn’t change because you are doing child care.

How do you get your parents involved in your daycare? Some people just aren’t going to be. I have had some parents I could not get to even send a can of corn to make stone soup as a group project. On stone soup day, the child was like, what did I bring? When I saw her sad little face, I handed her a can of my corn and said, you brought THIS! Her face lit up. So you can get around parents who don’t want to participate however you can. If they won’t, just let it go.

Most parents get really excited when you want to do your best for their kids. Get them as involved as you can. I throw two big parties during the year, an Easter Party, and a gingerbread decorating party. When my parents get together on a Saturday or an evening, it gives them a chance to see how their kids interact with each other, and to meet other parents and see what’s going on with their kids. Parents need that.

parent involvement in childcare

My parents love these get togethers and look forward to them all year. For the Easter party, I just stuff and hide the eggs, invite everyone and have them bring a dish for a pot luck lunch. We have an Easter story, then we hunt eggs and eat lunch.

For the gingerbread party, I build a gingerbread creation of some sort and make frosting to glue the candy on with. The parents bring candy to decorate with and we usually order pizza and they each bring money for that. It’s A LOT of fun to give parents an opportunity to create something with their kids. We donate the creation to a child advocacy center in town so the kids in transition there can see something fun.

parent involvement in childcare

Another event I do each year is a mom’s night out. It’s for moms only, no dads and no kids. We wear our pajamas, I provide something to eat, and we play games, make a craft and then pamper our hands. I have a waxer and I let them do a satin hands treatment and then wax their hands before they go home. I also make a picture collage from the past year of their kids and write each child a letter that I put on the back of their collage. I give it to the moms as a gift. There is no faster way to a mom’s heart than caring for her AND her child.

I always have a theme for each mom’s night like one year we did Grease. We met at an old fashioned diner for dinner, then came to my house where I had the movie playing quietly during game and craft time. Another time I did a garden theme. The moms planted flowers in a pot, made stepping stones, and exchanged garden gifts they brought it a gift exchange game. They are really fun for me as well and I get to know the moms better.

There are so many different things you can do, but the important part is to do something to engage your parents in the program. If they aren’t interested, that is fine, but give them the chance to send snacks for the valentine party or supplies for a project, or let them come together to meet other families. It’s an important part of them feeling comfortable with your child care.

Parent involvement

If you were a parent who had to leave your child to go to work, wouldn’t you want to KNOW that they were being well taken care of so you could focus on your job? I know when I had Kayla in childcare, I appreciated that so much!

A big part of success and getting parents involved is being approachable. Make sure you are available to your parents for their questions and concerns. Listen carefully to them when they are expressing their needs to you. They are trusting you with the most important thing in their life.

Give them your full attention. They may be asking for something you cannot do. Don’t be dishonest and say you will do it if you won’t. And don’t promise to do things that are going to make you miserable. It’s your business and you need to be in charge of it. And remember it’s a business, not a friendship. Even if you are friends with some of your parents, you still need be professional.

Try to think of a few simple things to get your parents involved in your daycare. You will be amazed at how it helps your business grow!

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How to Plan a Disco Party-Parent Involvement

lava lamp

At Little Sprouts, we have a mom’s night out every year. It’s one night when no one is allowed but moms and we have fun doing things for moms. I let the moms be creative, feed them good food, and pamper them. Why would I go to all that trouble? Because mom’s need support. I feel that being a mom is the hardest job in the world and I want to show my moms how special they are and how valuable they are. I know this world is a hard place and so many demands are placed on parents. Moms have a special place in my heart because I am a woman and have felt the assault on women in this world. I also know how it can feel like being a mother is full of failure and disappointment. No one is ever going to do everything right and motherhood is about learning and following God’s plan for families. I try to be as supportive as possible to my moms and help them with their job of running the family in this busy and scary world.

It’s important to spend time building relationships with your parents and not just the kids, the parents are as big a part of this job as the kids are. Being open and caring with your parents is very important. At Little Sprouts we have family parties for families to get to spend time with the kids and get to know each other. I feel that it’s a vital part of the children’s education. Parents need to be involved and know who you are and what you are about. In addition to mom’s night out, we have a gingerbread decorating party every year, click here to see what we did last year, and Easter egg hunt each year for families to come and get together and spend time doing something quality with their kids.

The first thing I do to plan the mom’s night is choose a theme. This year I chose disco because I had a mom dress up as a hippy for Halloween. It was so cute. And I already had a hippie costume, so I knew I could wear that if I wanted. I started to think it over and realized I already had disco fever music cds in my collection of music for the kids, and I already had disco balls from previous parties and activities with the kids at church. I’m a hippie at heart, so I knew this was going to be fun for me. Even though only a few of my moms were alive in the 70’s and they were born right at the end, I knew I could bring enough 70’s to the group to make it work. I decided on fondue for the party food, and borrowed my daughter’s lava lamp to add the final touch. Then I had to find an outlet for creativity. We always make a craft at mom’s night because I think creating is a great way to build people up. Something that happens inside when you create is life changing and if we go too long without creating things, we start to shrivel up inside.  When I thought of tye dye, I knew it was perfect!


At the end of the party, I always pamper the moms by doing Mary Kay Satin hands treatment on whoever wants to and then letting them wax their hands in my paraffin waxer and sit and relax. Then I give them some small token gift and a letter from me to their children telling them how much I love them. The letter has a collage of the past year on the back to show many things the child has learned. I start writing my letters in January and usually have mom’s night in February, so it gives me plenty of time to get them done and add the photos on the back.

I just want my moms to know I appreciate them and how hard they work to be good moms. And I want them to know how special they are to this world. I want to build them up and renew their sense of adventure and confidence for this thing we call life.

I do all the cooking for this event because I do it on Friday night and no one has time to cook anything up. I have the moms bring something for the craft, such as this time the t-shirt we tye dyed, but I never tell them ahead what we are doing or making. Surprise is a fun adventure.

Here are a few themes I have used in past years:

Garden party-we planted seeds and exchanged garden gifts. We also decorated a pot for the plants.

Upcycling party-I made door prizes from recycled items such as cork boards and record serving trays and made all the décor from recycled items. I taught facts about waste. We didn’t’ eat any recycled food though.  But we did make some bottle cap lockets.

upcycled records upcycled soda cap locket

Spa Party-we made bath salts and did all kinds of pampering things. For dinner we had spa food and spa water.

Olympics Party-we competed in Olympic games and had foods from around the world, we made wreaths in honor of the Olympic rings!

burlap wreaths moms night out olympic rings olympic games, moms night out world class food moms night out

Luau Party-we made decorated flip flops and ate Hawaiian food.

luau mom's night out letters to kids and collages decorating flip flops

Grease Party-we ate at an old fashioned hamburger shop and then came to my house and watched the movie.

Even if you don’t do a big party or a Mom’s Night Out on your time off, think of some ways you can get your parents involved in your daycare. You will be amazed at how much it improves your business and your reputation. Parents appreciate feeling like they are part of their children’s life in any way and daycare is a big part of that life.

Here are a few ideas of how:

  • Ask parents to bring donations of things you use a lot of like crayons or tissues.
  • Invite parents for lunch on Thanksgiving or ask them to send side dishes to go with your turkey.
  • Ask parents to send treats to share for your Valentine party instead of making it all yourself. You would be surprised at how much some of them enjoy making goodies for the kids and if they don’t, most people don’t mind grabbing some cookies or bananas at the store to send.
  • Invite parents to come to your Halloween party and enjoy watching their kids.
  • Ask parents to share a tradition or favorite family food with you so you can incorporate your child’s culture at home into the daycare setting.
  • Share pictures or stories with the parents of things their kids are doing.
  • Ask parents to collect recyclables like milk jugs or toilet paper rolls for a project you want to do with the kids.
  • Send home a project for parents to do with kids at home and return to daycare.
  • Ask a parent or grandparent to come to daycare and read stories to the kids or tell about their jobs.

 Have fun with it, let them play, enjoy their company. Your parents are your biggest asset, not your enemy, they can make or break your business. Show them what you have, all of your skills and talents. They will appreciate you for it and it will help your business find great success.

making tye dye disco fever tye dye mom's night, disco

At last night’s Disco Fever Mom’s Night Out we had a ton of fun. When the moms came in I had my tye dye shirt on and my crocheted headband like I always made and wore as a kid in the 70’s. I had the house dark and the disco balls turning and my favorite disco fever tunes playing. I had made some 70’s fondue with dippers and some pigs in a blanket for them to eat. I invited them to soak the t-shirts they brought in the presoaking stuff to make the dye set and we ate dinner. No one wanted to sing YMCA with me, but we had lots of giggles and laughs. Everyone told funny stories and some moms asked questions about their kids and what they’ve been doing here. After we ate we started working on our shirts. Everyone seemed to enjoy making them and they all turned out amazing! Then we wrapped them up to take home. You have to let the dye set for 8 hours, so in the morning, they had to rinse them out and then wash them. Then they sent pictures of the finished product. I did a drawing for a couple of door prizes. We had been playing the swear jar game all night. When each mom came in I gave her 4 quarters and every time they said their children’s names, they had to put a quarter in.  Whoever had the most quarters at the end of the night took the jar home. Some moms are really competitive which makes it super fun. After the drawing, we pampered our hands and relaxed for a bit and then I gave them their letters and collages and a candy bar to take home. The evening ended with lots of hugs, some tears and sweet dreams. One of my favorite things all year.

tye dye tye dye tshirt disco fever tye dye shirt tye dye creation  tshirt, tye dye tye dye shirts ombre tye dye

Here’s how the shirts turned out.  Grooovy!

6 Ways to Help Keep Kids Safe

October is fire safety month so it’s a good time to think about ways to teach children to keep themselves safe. The kids I keep are ages 2-6. It’s never too early to learn how to take care of yourself.

  • In childcare in Oklahoma, we are required by DHS licensing regulations to perform fire drills, tornado drills, and smoke and carbon monoxide detector checks monthly. We do our safety drills near the first part of the month. I test the smoke detector while the kids are here so they can be familiar with the loud sound and know what it means.

In addition to fire drills, I teach my Little Sprouts Stop, Drop, and Roll, and Get out, Stay out, and Don’t go Back in! We practice being on fire and how to put the fire out and we practice where to go in a fire or tornado. I also show them where they could go if something ever happened to Ms. Christina. I have an older neighbor that stays home, and she is our safe house. She has a dog named Patty Cake so we call her Patty Cake’s mom. All the kids know her and we talk about her being a safe place when we take walks down the street.

  • We do tornado drills monthly as well. We practice meeting in the interior bathroom and talk about getting in the bathtub with our pillow on our head if there really was a tornado. Even if I didn’t run a home daycare, I think drills are important to do with your own kids and grandkids too. It takes some of the fear away in a real incident, if they know what to do.
  • It is important to teach and remind children some things should not be played with. Lighters, matches, electrical outlets, and the stove, among other things should be left alone. It’s good to give reminders of this periodically to help kids remember. 
  • One of the most important things I do with my children is teach them their full name, phone number, and their parent’s names. You might think this is silly, but it has paid off big for me. Children should know this information in the event they ever get lost. If your child should end up in a situation like this, a helper could help them find you if they know your name and phone number. I try to teach all my kids their phone number and know their parents first and last names.

One of my daycare kids, two years old at the time, went on a field trip to the zoo with his uncle and was left there. The zoo is about an hour from the town we live in. I always tell the kids if they ever get lost from their parents, they should find a helper wearing a uniform. If they cannot find one, they should tell a mom with little kids. Moms are usually safe helpers. The boy was at the penguin exhibit and could not find his uncle. He couldn’t find someone in a uniform so he found a mom with a baby in a stroller. He told her, I am lost and I need help. She took him to the security office and they contacted his parents because he knew his dad’s first and last name and his mom’s cell number. I can’t imagine what could have happened if he didn’t. The uncle went home and never realized he was missing but the parent were able to go to the town where he was and pick him up. I was so grateful I taught him that, and so were his parents.


I had another child get separated from her parents at an amusement park. She found a security guard and told him her mom’s name. She was three. He announced the mom’s name on the loudspeaker and they were able to be reunited. She was grateful for the lessons as well.

  • In the past, when I have taken the kids on field trips, I have always put one of my business cards in their pocket with my contact information, just in case. Parents could easily do this as well. You can never be too careful.
  • Something I ALWAYS did with my own daughter, and practice with my daycare kids, is tell them we NEVER EVER keep secrets from mom and dad. We can make surprises for them, but NOONE SHOULD EVER tell a child they have to keep something a secret from their mom or dad. Kids should know its okay to tell their parents anything.

You can never be too cautious with children. I am always trying to think of ways to keep kids safe that I may have overlooked before. Hopefully something I suggested here will help you keep a child in your life a little safer.

 Pride in Children's Accomplishments

Keeping kids safe

Getting Kids to Eat Healthy Food? Yeah right!

healthy foods and kids
Our goal at Little Sprouts is to grow as much of the food as the kids eat as we possibly can. Could we grow 10%? That would be amazing! Could we grow 50%? Even better!

Why do I care about growing all of the kid’s food? With the amount of GMO’s in our food supply, and pesticides and herbicides that are showing up in the blood and tissue of humans, I feel that our food supply is getting increasingly unhealthy at an alarming rate.

Even if you don’t feed your kids processed foods, which most of us do, the fresh “healthy” foods we are buying at the grocery store are not so healthy any more. If you don’t know a lot about chemicals in food or genetically modified food, I would take some time to do some research on it. You will be amazed.

The only way to make sure the food I feed my family and my daycare kids is truly healthy is to grow it ourselves. So we set out on a journey to learn to grow our own! You would be amazed at the transformation in our menu here at Little Sprouts. We’ve gone from corn dogs, frozen fries, and chicken blobs made of mostly chemicals, to fresh produce and homemade bread made with freshly milled flour.

I make my own chicken strips now that just contain chicken, flour, and salt and pepper. I make my own oven fries too. I feel great about it each and every time my kids eat. Is it a lot harder and more time consuming? Goodness yes! Is it worth it? Oh my, double yes!

Those harmful chemical are destroying bodies at alarming rates with disease at an all-time high in the United States. And studies show that they are even more harmful to children as their bodies are still growing.

Are the meals I serve 100% organic, homemade, and chemical free? No, but we are working toward that and every step I take in the right direction is a good step. We started over 10 years ago with baby steps and one small change at a time. So you might be wondering what in the world do my Little Sprouts eat? You would be amazed at what they have learned to like that they didn’t before or had never even heard of. Shoot, I am eating things I had not heard of three years ago…and LIKING them!

Remember when changing your diet to healthier foods, kids have to be exposed to a food 11 times before it is no longer a new food. Is that a lot? YES! Do I have to throw away food sometimes because they don’t eat it? Yes. But I did before when I served convenience foods, so it’s not any different.

Daycares have USDA regulations for what must be served to the kids at each meal. There are parameters we must follow that are intended to supply the kids with a healthy diet, but they have a wide variety of very healthy and not so healthy choices that we can choose to feed them. I try to give my kids the very best. And growing food with the kids and letting them help prepare it are two of the ways that exponentially increase the children’s chances of trying the foods that I offer that they might not be familiar with.
getting kids to eat healthy food and like it.Another important thing about learning to like healthier foods is no matter what that food is, there is a way you can like it. You just have to find HOW you like to eat it. The same is true for kids. Take eggplant for instance. I tried cooking it every way I could find and I just CANNOT like the taste of eggplant. I want to be healthy. Eggplant is healthy. So I grilled it, fried it, roasted it, baked it, steamed it, pureed it. But I just don’t like it. So I buy eggplant, grate it up and mix it in my spaghetti sauce or meat loaf. I am eating eggplant. But I can’t taste it.

Consider broccoli for instance. I do not like it boiled to death the way that I had it served to me as a child in the school cafeteria. But my mom boiled hers just a little bit, and it was yummy. When I grew up and started doing the cooking, I cooked it like mom did and it was good. But I found out years later that using fresh broccoli instead of frozen is 10 times more delicious. And then I discovered it….roasted broccoli. Oh my, there is not much better in this world. I put a little olive oil on it, salt and pepper, crushed garlic, and a little grated parmesan cheese. Put it in a 400 degree oven until it’s bright green and just a tiny bit browned on the tips. Click here for a recipe.

It is out of this world tasty. I don’t think I have a single child who doesn’t gobble this up. I even have kids begging their parents to buy broccoli to eat at home. I promise you if you don’t give up on fruits and vegetables, you will learn to love many things and you will be able to teach your kids to love them too.

When we first tried to change our eating habits to a healthier diet, we only ate broccoli and corn. So getting 9 servings of fruits and vegetables a day was really tough to do. But one at a time we added things to our diet that we now love to eat. We switched out our canned peaches for the world’s most amazing fresh peaches. We left the everyday apples, oranges, and bananas for less of those and a variety of wonderful fresh melons and other yummy fruits.

We learned to like Swiss chard, sweet potatoes, squashes and many many other healthy vegetables and our bodies are so much better for it. I think more clearly, have more energy, less mood swings and a myriad of other amazing health benefits. I eat an average of 10 servings of fruits and vegetables a day in a wide variety of colors for different nutrients. I eat lots of raw produce as well. I enjoy it now that I’ve learned to prepare things the way I like them.

Remember if you badger your kids to eat, they won’t want what you’re feeding them no matter what. Nagging or begging kids to eat is not a healthy practice. Offer them a plate of food with a small amount of each thing on it. If they don’t eat it, don’t worry, they will eat when they are hungry. Model good eating habits and they will soon follow. Monkey see, monkey do with kids is not just limited to bad things.

If you ignore what they are eating, they will chose what they need to be satisfied. Remember, a toddler portion is not what you are used to eating. They don’t need that much food to get full.

If you are trying to change your eating habits or the habits of your family, be patient with yourself and with them. It’s a process, it doesn’t happen overnight. But I can tell you even the pickiest kids (and adults, eh hmm) will come around and learn to like at least some things. It’s definitely worth doing for the health of those you love and you will feel AMAZING!

9 Reasons to be a Childcare Provider

Every child deserves a great place to be. That’s why I have kept teaching kids for over 19 years. I firmly believe if we are going to take care of children, we should give it our 110%. There is nothing more important than how a provider spends their day.

Some days my 110% is not that great, and some days I knock it out of the park. I am human, I am not claiming to be perfect. I make mistakes, I make parents mad, and I do things that are annoying. But I know the parents who bring their kids to me are bringing me the most precious thing in their life. They are not leaving their really great kids at home and bringing me their second string. These children are their family’s most precious resource, and they are our world’s most precious resource. The value of what providers do is immeasurable!

childcareWhen you set out to start your day, remind yourself to give lots of smiles, hugs, and eye contact. Put on a positive attitude and get ready to face the day. This job is HARD! It’s messy, super long hours, and exhausting for very little monetary gain. It’s not money that makes the job.

  • It’s seeing that teenager you kept years before and seeing their eyes light up when they meet yours.
  • It’s being able to make a hard day a little better for a precious little one, or helping a child accomplish something they’ve been trying to do like taking first steps, mastering the potty, getting their own shoes on, or learning to pump their legs and make the swing go.
  • It’s seeing a child’s face as they discover and explore the wonders of nature.
  • It’s teaching them how to plant a seed the right way and watching kids even as young as one be able to do it on their own with just a few words of advice.
  • Then watching their awe and wonder as that seed germinates.
  • It’s seeing them taste a fresh picked fruit or vegetable for the first time they grew themselves.
  • It’s teaching them to wash and prepare food for their own meals and seeing the pride on their faces.
  • It’s knowing they trust you and can come to you for help.
  • It’s teaching them the skills they need to succeed when they leave you, like math, science, reading, and especially social skills they will need to survive in our world.

Teach by example. Choose your words and actions carefully. Kids need to know it’s okay not to be perfect and they need to know there is good in them.

I love what I do and I can’t imagine doing anything else with my time. In 1995 when my husband and daughter and I moved to town, we didn’t know a soul. So I decided to stay home with our daughter. A few months later the neighbor asked me to watch her baby boy while she went to her new job.


After a few days I realized what he did at my house all day was super important. So I bought some books and did some studying about how I could be a great child care provider. I put my business plans in place and got a state license. As I got a few more kids, I started to work on my CDA (Child Development Associate) so I could understand how to be the best provider I could be. By the way it made me a better mother too.

Here I am today, still doing it because I love it so much. I have kept over 70 kids and each one holds a special place in my heart. It all started with one baby boy and a calling by God to be my own unique kind of provider.

The truth is, the kids are the gift to me. They have taught me and changed me and made me a better person.

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