As kids are heading back to school, we can use some public school ideas to assess and improve our child care programs.
Most schools host a Back-to-School Night. This is a great way to get together with parents, introduce any changes to your policies and procedures, and give parents a chance to talk with you and their child’s teacher about your program. You can take this time to invite parents to participate in the program throughout the year by volunteering in the classroom, reading to the children, or working on some projects at home.
The beginning of the school year is also a good time to make sure that you have updated paperwork on all of the children in the program—correct phone numbers, up-to-date immunizations, etc. Ideally, you will also have some sort of portfolio and/or developmental checklist on each student so that the classroom teachers can plan appropriate learning activities for the year.
Along with the developmental checklists, you can take this time to make sure that your program is developmentally appropriate, with a goal of developing self-motivated, active learners. But, part of that developmental appropriateness of your program will include down time for the children, whether it be outside time for them to run around and get fresh air or just unprogrammed inside time. While your program will include specific learning goals for each child, each one should also have some daily down time to just relax and gather their thoughts.
Even though most of us run programs that operate year-round, back-to-school can be a good reminder to make sure our house is in order for another year.