When I started my business, I was concerned about “doing it right”. Yes, I could take care of children, but what are the standards? What is considered best practice? What should I be doing with these children all day? Feed them, care for them, guide and play with them, but I knew there was more. How could I maximize the time I had with them and really provide quality care? How do you define professional conduct in child care program? To me, professionalism in child care is:
- about being reliable (you won’t have children to care for otherwise)
- doing what you say you’re going to do (creates trust)
- and being the best you can be (builds reputation)
Are parents looking for professionalism in child care? Definitely. We can define it many ways, but there are too many examples of poor child care out there. We must demonstrate professionalism through our education, our communication, and daily practices. Our work (children) are too important not to.
To be reliable I give parents a yearly closing schedule at the beginning of the year with my vacation dates and holidays. Each month they get a reminder of those dates on the activity calendar. I rarely close for illness or other reasons. No surprises. The door is open and I’m ready when they arrive.
Doing what you say you’re going to do: it’s not easy to keep yourself accountable sometimes when the days are so full and with so many demands. So I create a monthly activity calendar to communicate the scope and sequence of our plans for the month. Then I do those things on the calendar. Then I show parents through photos or work sent home that we did it. Parents trust their children are learning and that I’m making the best decisions for our time together.
Being the best I can be: I felt in order to be the best I can at my job, I should be licensed. So I started my business with a child care license. Then it takes dedication, hard work, continued education and some trial and error.
Mission and Vision
I started my child care business for my son. I wanted to be home with him and most importantly, the influence of his early years to be mine. I feel that has made all the difference in not only his life but mine. In the meantime, I’ve found another mission: to dedicate my time and energy to teaching young children in my care. I believe in providing quality child care, meeting the needs of the whole child.
The three most important things I believe I do for children are:
- provide consistent, reliable care
- provide healthy, home-cooked meals
- provide a safe, clean, quality environment to encourage play, curiosity, and creativity.
Quality Care & Education
While my first responsibility is to meet the child’s needs, I want to teach and provide quality play opportunities as well, to meet the needs of the whole child. Through education, I’ve learned the importance of experiences in early childhood. I have these children many hours. They need to be busy and engaged in play. Plus, creating quality play opportunities keeps my own interest. If I’m bored and uninspired, how can the children in my care be engaged and inspired? I continually need to be reinspired and try something new myself. Children like new, exciting and novelty. I do too! Who doesn’t?
Professionalism and Learning
As a professional, I need to keep learning. When I first started, I had some basic early childhood education. An assistant teacher certificate, Infant/Toddler course, and some safety courses. Since then I’ve completed my preschool credential (18 credits focusing on preschool) and will soon be finishing my associate degree. There’s hours and hours of continuing education through workshops, conferences, and online or self-guided study.
Still, while education is important, there’s nothing that can replace hands-on experience and learning by doing – just like children! Over the years I’ve grown as a professional educator. I’ve learned how to incorporate teaching through play, planning intentionally and practical ways of using materials to teach concepts to young children. It’s important that providers continue to learn, grow and evolve as teachers too. There are so many aspects to child care that we must keep learning and growing.
Marketing my child care business is easy with a website and social media. I believe in the power of a photo. Parents only see a few minutes of what happens each day so photos communicate in a way that I can’t. There simply isn’t time to explain every minute of a child’s day. A daily sheet doesn’t give much evidence of fun or what’s been learned. Photos, however, can provide a full story. A parent can see what a child is doing, how the child might feel, it can prove what you say is taking place in child care. Most importantly, provokes an emotional response, developing a connection between home and school, parent and child, parent and caregiver. What parent doesn’t love to see a photo of their child? I want parents to be able to share in our learning experience. Read more about communication here.
I might be all about creating a wonderful childhood learning experience for young children, but first and foremost, this is a business. How many times have I heard, “Aww, you get so much love in return” “You get paid in hugs” “You do this for the love of children.” Yes, yes, and yes, but I still need to make money. I can’t keep the door open and continue to provide a valuable service in my community without running a serious business. A business with a budget, clear goals and careful thought of expenses.
It Takes Time
In the beginning, it seemed like I needed *everything*. I had very little in my room for the children to play with and use. It doesn’t take long to accumulate a lot of stuff! Along the way, I’ve discovered what works for me and what doesn’t. Lots of the things I thought would be great just didn’t work out. I’ve learned what to look for in thrift stores and what has value at the dollar stores and what doesn’t. Now, I have wayyy too many materials and that doesn’t do anyone any good. It’s a lot of work to sort and care for it all, I can’t find what I need and now just need to get rid of many things. Now I know quality items when I see them, what will hold up to play and what will really add value to the play environment.
When discussing the cost of running a business, there’s also the cost of my time. I work a lot of hours before and after children are present. It’s easy to be consumed with the huge responsibility of a child care and preschool but I try to remember why I’m doing this in the first place – for my family. I look for ways to save not only money but my time.
Experience Curriculum has helped me be a professional early childhood educator. The curriculum aligns with my values and supports my mission to care for the whole child. I can achieve my goals of running a successful child care business and help children develop while having fun. I love it when my kids ask “What are we learning about today?” Parents love the program. It presents well and they are excited about what we are doing too.
Using Experience Curriculum has given me a plan for each month. It keeps me organized and on task. They provide newsletters and calendars for communicating with parents. The celebration kits are fabulous for engaging parents and welcoming them into their child’s world of learning at child care. I’ve learned to be resourceful and creative with the materials they provide as well as create rich experiences and learning environment.
The curriculum is really the core of my program and has brought me much success. I remember times when I felt like maybe I couldn’t afford it or maybe I should just come up with my own program, but now I’m at the point of realizing, it saves me time which in the end is more valuable than money.
If you need some direction and guidance for your business, Experience Curriculum can help establish you as a professional in child care.