I’ve seen a lot of discussion by in-home child care educators on social media lately around drop off and pick up times for children. Now, while I know it is important to have processes in place for these times to run smoothly, I’ve been a little shocked at the rules some educators have for the families enrolled in their program.
In some instances, I’ve seen educators state they have a sign on their door saying something like, “If you aren’t here by 8.30, then don’t bother coming at all.”
Now, I know many of you are going to disagree with me about this topic. And that’s okay. Ultimately, it’s your business so you can make your own decisions. Nonetheless, I’d like to give you a few things to think about when setting procedures for your in-home child care business.
1. Communication is key. There are going to be cut off times where you may need to leave the house to get other children to school and, of course, this needs to be managed. A child cannot be late for school because another family has enjoyed a late breakfast. But rather than enforcing a rule saying they can’t attend at all, instead try communicating with families to ensure they understand that if they arrive and you are not there, you will be returning at xxx time. They will simply need to wait.
2. You are providing a service parents are PAYING you for. In a sense, parents are at your mercy because they have to pay for the time their children are booked there, regardless of if their child attends or not. However, in my opinion, it doesn’t mean you should be taking advantage of that. As a mother, I know I want to pay for quality educators who are looking after my child’s needs, not their own.
3. In the grand scheme of things, will a late child really be a problem? Is it really going to be an issue if a child arrives later than expected? Sure, when children start school, there will be times they need to stick to, but do we really need to be enforcing such strict procedures on a two or three year old?
4. Children need to learn resilience. You may argue that a child arriving late will disrupt the other children. Well, life doesn’t always run smoothly, and children need to learn to deal with interruptions. And, what message does a “don’t bother” sign send to a child who is running late? They should give up on the day completely just because they are running late?
We should be letting children know that setbacks happen, but we can always bounce back from them. This includes minor issues, like running late in the morning, which is usually out of the child’s control.
5. Drop off times can be stressful for children. We all know plenty of parents who have to deal with children who don’t want to leave home. Mornings can be chaotic, (I know they are in my house), and just like we tell adults to practice self-care, we should teach children that it is ok to take time to take a few extra deep breaths when they need to.
6. Not being flexible can harm you in the long run. In-home child care is a growing industry and to remain competitive you are going to need to respond to the needs of the market. If you plan on doing this long term, then it’s worth establishing yourself now as a business that has a reputation of working WITH families, not AGAINST them. If you don’t, you run the risk of losing clients to your competitors.
If you are looking for help with drop off and pick up times then I have a whole section devoted to it in the JPS Survival Guide for Australian Family Day Care Educators (or the JPS In-home Child Care Business Guide for International Providers outside of Australia). Or, if you’d like to get more advice from me, then please don’t hesitate in sending me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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