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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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What Parents Wish Childcare Providers Knew…

What Parents Wish Childcare Providers Knew…

Parents and providers can work together to build a great relationship that supports children and builds a great foundation for their future. I have been talking to parents to see what they would say to their providers past or present if they could. To be a great provider, you need empathy. Leaving your kids with someone else is not easy. If you are a childcare provider, please realize parents have feelings.

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Babies are Born to Learn

When children are born, they are naturally curious and processing information about the world through sensory stimulation. During the first three years of life, a baby has incredible growth in all areas. There is so much we can do as parents and caregivers to get children off to a great start of lifelong learning.

A baby’s genes serve as the main structure for their ability to learn, but there is so much we can do to help them improve. During the first years, a baby’s brain produces massive numbers of connections that will after the age of three begin to be pruned if they are not used. It is easier to form learning connections during this “plastic” or growing time in the brain. That’s why early childhood experiences are of utmost importance.

Positive experiences have a huge effect on children’s chances for happiness, achievement, and success. The more they are nurtured, held, and stimulated in the first three years, the better their brains will function for their entire lives. Not only academic learning is affected, but trust, problem solving, resilience and other emotional process are as well. Fifty percent of a child’s learning about the world is achieved by age 3.


Each person has billions of brain cells. Each cell has dendrites, or extensions like tree branches. They give and receive impulses to other brain cells which travel along pathways called synapses. These pathways send information from one cell to the other to form knowledge or brain power. Everything babies learn such as speaking, moving, feeling safe, recognizing objects, etc. travel along those pathways.

Pathways grow because of stimulation and nurturing. Repetition and routine are important to strengthen the connections between the cells. As an experience is repeated, it sculpts the brain. For instance, every time you nurture a crying baby, you are sending the message of safety and love and establishing trust. Nothing is more important to brain development than relationships.

So what can we do as caregivers to give young children the best chance at success? Spending time with infants and young children, talk to them, sing to them, play games, read to them. All of these activities build a foundation for children’s language. Encourage them to crawl, walk, climb, draw, hop, ride bikes, jump, skip, and dress themselves. In addition, it is vitally important not to rush children into learning skills their brains are not yet ready to learn. Not only does pushing children to learn things early cause undue stress that is damaging, but the connections that are formed will not stay because the child’s brain is not ready to receive those impulses yet.

Young children also need the proper amount of healthy fats in their diet so that the brain can function at its highest capacity. Breast milk is the perfect food to provide that to children. Healthy fats in natural food will give children the best chance of learning success they can have. Limiting unhealthy fats such as are in fried and processed foods is imperative for developing brains. Healthy fats such as olive oil, coconut oil, and natural oils present in foods such as fish help to protect the processes of the brain and help it reach its fullest potential.

Creating little geniuses or super brains should not be our goal as caregivers. Our goal should be to provide a safe and loving environment where children know that their needs will be met. When children can trust, they are free to learn at their personal pace. Our goal should be to provide a safe, structured and loving environment with plenty of stimulation for young brains to learn.

Burnout…What Does it Mean?

Child care is a job with one of the highest rates of burnout. Why? It is hard work, long hours, and little pay. Why do people do it then? I do it because it’s my passion. I feel every child deserves a great place to be. I feel that just because they were born into this world, they deserve to be built up, nurtured, and loved. Many other providers I know feel the same way. Most of us are in it to love kids, and no other reason.

Burnout comes from years of not feeling appreciated or cared about by the parents whose children we care for. Picking up late, not paying on time and not bringing needed supplies are some ways to show disrespect. We have a life outside of childcare and when a parent is consistently late, it feels like they don’t respect us. Or how would it feel if every payday you had to go into your boss’ office and BEG them for your check? Some providers have to deal with that every week. I forgot my check book. You’ll have to wait until next week. Do their bill collectors wait? Mine don’t.

It means a lot to a provider when a parent says a kind word. “I appreciate what you do for my child. I see that you work hard. I want to make sure I pay you on time. Wow, this is a cool activity. I love that you do such and such with my child every day. They are learning a lot.” Anything that can encourage the provider is worth saying. It’s nice to be appreciated. I have always had a lot of parents who went out of their way to say they appreciate me and it means a lot. This helps keep providers from burnout. 


As providers and other caregivers, how do we avoid burnout?

  • The #1 rule in life is take care of yourself so you can take care of others. There is no avoiding this. You HAVE to make time for you. You have to do the things you love every now and then. You whole life cannot be work. You will definitely burn out if you don’t ever focus on anything but the daycare. 
  • Relax! Do some stretches, meditate, pray, write, or read something you love.
  • Take care of your body! Get enough sleep, get exercise, and eat healthy foods. My grandpa always said, “Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy and wise.” It’s always worked for me. It’s a great way to avoid burnout. 
  • Learn how to say no. Don’t let people talk you into doing things you don’t want to do. If you know it will make you miserable or you just can’t do it, just say no.
  • Put down the electronics for a few minutes each day and take a technology break.
  • Be creative and let your creativity flow. It’s a great way to center yourself.
  • Be social regularly. It helps you be fulfilled emotionally. You desperately need it when you give so much.
  • Laugh, a LOT. Make other people laugh. My kids crack me up and I enjoy those moments. I also joke around with them and make them laugh. It makes getting barfed on or leaky diarrhea diapers not so end of the world.
  • Be accountable. Make sure you are doing your best to be reliable for your parents, they need someone they can depend on. And if you make mistakes, own up to them. Everyone makes them, but an “I’m sorry” goes along way.
  • Breathe. Take a minute to breathe deeply and center yourself.
  • Talk to others who understand. Networking is an important part of staying in a mindset of loving your job.
  • Treat yourself. What is something you really like? A new pair of jeans, a piece of chocolate, or a long drive with the windows down? Whatever you like, let yourself have a little indulgence.
  • Take a Vacation! I see providers all the time who say, I don’t take vacations, my parents need me. They do need you. As long as you give them plenty of notice, it’s better for them to have to find care for a week and have you come back recharged than for you to burn out and quit childcare completely. Or for you to try to provide care when you are miserable. This is never a good thing!

Something I heard from Tom Copeland, a great advocate for family childcare, has stuck with me for years. I use it to gauge situations in my life that need adjusting. It works for any job. These are your three choices in life. Be happy. If you are not happy, then change what you are doing. If you cannot change it, then quit. If you cannot quit, then BE HAPPY! There is nothing else. Think about that.

And finally, should you be doing childcare or whatever job if you’re burned out? Maybe it’s not the job for you or maybe you need a change. If you find yourself dreading Monday every Sunday and a vacation doesn’t help that, maybe it’s time to look at doing something else. If you are miserable, everyone else around you probably is too. And if you work with kids, that’s especially not a good thing. So think about something else you might like to do. If you decide to keep doing what you’re doing, LOVE it! And give it your all. Be blessed!

 

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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