Running a child care program is a very unique business in which we see many early childhood professionals become very creative in finding FREE resources. No money? No problem. After all they do say “the best things in life are free, right? How about a FREE hug from your kids? What about a FREE smile that simply makes your heart melt? How about the FREE words everyone longs to hear: “I love you”. Yes, the best things in life are in fact FREE.
While the children provide us with many memorable FREE things throughout the day, early childhood professionals become creative and resourceful to find FREE art supplies within their communities.
Here a few ideas taken from “Terrific Tips for Directors” by Silvana Clark. Give them a try!
FREE Colorful Envelopes: The day after a holiday, go to any store seeking greeting cards. Most of the major card manufacturers want unsold holiday cards shipped back to headquarters, but they don’t want the envelopes. This means hundreds of new envelopes are thrown out. Check with a store clerk in charge of the card department and ask for the envelopes.
FREE High School Prom Decorations: Find out when local high schools are having dances and proms. The students decorate with streamers, signs, and purchased displays to go with their theme. They usually throw everything out after the event, but could be persuaded to save things for you. If you are really dedicated, offer to help clean up to ensure you get the decorations.
FREE Paper: Newspaper offices often have leftover ends of plain newsprint rolls for free or at a nominal cost. Most rolls are 20 to 25 feet long and wide enough for large murals, body tracing, or making giant picture books.
FREE Small Wood Scraps: Many cabinet makers and furniture builders have small wood scraps in various shapes and sizes. The small pieces are perfect for wood sculptures. Jackpot for 3-D art!
FREE Wallpaper Samples: Home decorating stores offer free, outdated wallpaper sample books. The large papers are ideal for book covers, card making, practice cutting, and toddler scribbling.
FREE Fabric: Upholstery shops or custom fabric stores have out-of-date fabric samples they will give away. Use them for collages, texture books, doll clothes, or other projects.
One of the golden rules in child care is: “ASK in order to RECEIVE- FREE! So, what are you waiting for?
Here is a recent blog I came across taken from www.childcarebridge.com . This website looked at the most common mistakes observed when running a childcare program. I hope you find the information valuable and learn before you make the mistakes.
When you run any type of business, you are bound to make a few mistakes. The important thing to do when you make errors is to learn from them so you won’t repeat them. Although some errors are inevitable in business, here are five common childcare industry mistakes you can easily avoid:
1) Not having a written contract in place.
Having a written contract in place protects your business and gives clients a blueprint of what you expect from them, and what they can expect from you. Putting all of your policies and procedures in writing minimizes conflict and confusion, makes it easier to enforce rules, and improves your chances of recovering past due childcare fees from clients.
2) Not setting proper childcare rates.
Setting childcare fees can be tricky. You want to charge enough to comfortably cover your business expenses, and make a profit. However,
you don’t want to scare potential clients away with unreasonable high prices. Here’s a good rule to follow when setting rates: Call childcare programs in your area to see what they are charging, and set your rates somewhere along those lines.
3) Not following licensing guidelines.
Licensing rules are designed to improve the care and safety of children. When you don’t follow licensing guidelines, it not only jeopardizes kid’s safety, it puts you at risk for losing your childcare license, and getting into legal trouble.
4) Not marketing regularly.
What good is having a business if customers don’t know you exist? It doesn’t matter if you run a small home childcare, or a large childcare program, marketing is what drives clients to your door. It’s smart to sue a variety of marketing strategies to keep a steady flow of children in your childcare facility.
The holiday season is fast approaching, providing the early childhood community with an opportunity to teach young children the importance of giving back. Teaching and modeling the concept of giving back can have many positive outcomes for a child. By simply assisting young children doing good deeds, they develop social concepts such as empathy, love, compassion and responsibility. Developing these positive social concepts is vital in the growth of a well-rounded child. A quote by Winston Churchill describes it best: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” Childcare programs can create many unique ways to involve young children in making a difference in the community. Small hands CAN make a huge impact! Here are just a few ideas:
APSU-TECTA Food Drive
For the month of November & December, the APSU TECTA office is focusing on giving back to the community. We invite all TECTA supported students and other early childhood professionals and advocates to join us in collecting nonperishable food items for the APSU student food pantry. The nonperishable food items may be dropped off at the TECTA office, or at the Nashville State Community College Clarksville Satellite Campus. Our goal is to collect 500 nonperishable items and we need your help. Let the spirit of giving begin and let us model behavior we want children to adopt!
Peter Drucker quoted, “The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Do you pay attention to your customers of families and children? Networking skills, making your center stand out, telephone tips, effective brochures, and projecting the right image are just a few examples how to market your program. Marketing your program is critical in promoting your business.
Networking is simply a fancy word for meeting people to share information and resources. Let your community know you run a high qualify professional early childhood program whenever you have an opportunity. Even though your schedule is busy, try to find time to join a community organization unrelated to the child care industry. This will broaden your perspective and expose you to people with various interests and needs.
Make your center stand out. What sets your program apart from all the others in your community? Do you offer longer hours, NAEYC or NAFCC accredited, three stars recognized, highly qualified child care providers holding a CDA or Technical Early Childhood Certificate, annual family BBQ or maybe even a beautiful natural play ground?
Practice telephone etiquette. Place a list of commonly asked questions- with answers- by each telephone. Whoever answers the phone can then answer questions about tuition, availability for openings, registration fee, hours of operation and directions to your facility. Professional telemarketers often place a mirror by the phone, along with a sign saying “Smile!” When you smile, your voice sounds friendly and upbeat.
High quality, effective brochures are important. A photocopied piece of paper with amateur artwork on the front cannot compete with a well-designed, professionally printed brochure. The extra cost of a quality brochure is offset by the higher enrollment you’ll achieve. Make sure to use a consistent logo.
Make children and families feel welcome. What is the first impression a person may have of your facility? Is the front area covered with smudges and fillled with unpleasant odors, or does it look warm and homey? A colorful container of flowers by the entrance shows you care about appearances. Fall is just around the corner, and beautiful mums will be perfect for any entrance area.
(Information taken from Terrific Tips for Directors by Silvana Clark, 1998)