It’s hard to get your families together to get to know each other at daycare. It also can be hard to plan a fun Easter celebration for your family that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg or work you to death preparing.
Tag Archive for Parent involvement
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!
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.
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!
Luau Party-we made decorated flip flops and ate Hawaiian food.
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.
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.
Here’s how the shirts turned out. Grooovy!
At Little Sprouts, we have a yearly tradition of gingerbread decorating. I build a creation and invite all of the daycare families over to have dinner and decorate. We donate the creation to KidsSpace, a child advocacy center here in town to bring some joy to the lives of children in transition. We started this tradition about 18 years ago. We have entered our creations in contests, donated them to museum sales, and all kinds of things. We have been donating it to KidsSpace for several years now and it seems to bring them much joy.
Building gingerbread is so much fun. If you have a group of adults, you can let them build their creations and decorate them, but with many toddlers and preschool age kids, it’s easier to build the creation a week or so ahead of time so it’s more likely to hold together while they are decorating it.
The first thing you have to figure out is what you are going to build. I have several books full of patterns and there are free patterns on the internet and many you can buy. I started by checking out library books with patterns. You can even create your own. I have done that a few times, but usually, I just find a pattern and change it to what I want to build.
Martha Stewart’s recipes
I have always used Martha Stewart’s Gingerbread recipe. It’s foolproof. I do not add cinnamon to mine because I am highly allergic, but I do use ginger and black pepper to flavor it. I use her royal icing recipe as well. Martha knows! And this royal icing hardens rock hard, so it’s a great glue for the gingerbread.
Start about a week before your party. Roll out your dough to the 1/8 inch Martha recommends and cut your pieces from your patterns. I use a pastry dough cutter or pizza cutter to cut sharp lines.
Bake your house pieces according to the instructions in the recipe and allow them to cool thoroughly. I cool mine overnight or for a couple of days.
Putting the gingerbread together
Now it’s time to assemble. I use peppermint sticks to hold the house sides together and when adding the roof pieces, I secure them with straight pins like a nail until the creation is dry. I remove them before the kids come for decorating.
I allow these to dry for about a week. This year we had several days of rainy weather and our gingerbread was super soft. Some of the houses had pieces break off, but we were able to put them back together. If you have a large creation, sometimes the rain will totally destroy it. I stick with smaller buildings most of the time because of that.
Another great reason is when I have a lot of people working, it helps if each family has a unit they can work on. We have done train cars, town buildings, and village houses. We have also done a beach scene with a house and a lighthouse, Santa’s workshop, a mansion with a gazebo, a big city downtown with skyscrapers and a protest, and many other creations. Whatever you choose, it’s going to be fun.
Get ready for your party guests
Before your guests arrive, lay out all the supplies. This year we ate pizza, so I just had to put out dishes and make some tea. The families brought decorating candy and pizza money. That made it easy for everyone. Once the guests arrived, it was all fun.
After everyone ate and decorated, we put the creation together.
I wanted to make a community garden in the center of the neighborhood, so I attempted some veggies.
After the creation was in place, it magically snowed during the night…
Having your families gather for a group project any time of year is a great way to let them get to know each other and to feel like they are a part of the daycare. I have kids that are grown that still remember making gingerbread here with their parents. It’s a great way to make memories and it’s super fun for everyone. I hope you try some gingerbreading with your loved ones. If you feel intimidated by baking the gingerbread, make houses from graham crackers or buy a kit. Any way you do it, it’s awesome! And imagine the kid’s faces at the advocacy center when they see all this colorful fun!
A few months ago my camera that I saved three years to buy for myself met an untimely accident. It still works, but some of the features such as zoom do not and when taking a picture, there is a long delay. Sometimes you can’t get it to come on without a little shaking. Needless to say, with all the blog and daycare pictures, it’s a hassle. But this year at the party, my sweet parents surprised me with a replacement camera. It’s better, prettier, and they also gave me multiple cool tools to go with it. I was flabbergasted. I couldn’t believe they did this for me. I was so touched, I had to put it away so I wouldn’t cry. I hate crying in public. Anyway, I am super excited about it. I named her Lynda after my hero Wonder Woman. Here’s a picture of her, she’s amazing…
Do you have any gingerbread memories to share? I’d LOVE to hear them!
Don’t forget to pin for later!