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.
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.
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.
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!