Planning Tips from the CATS
This post will look at planning in a different perspective from our previous postings. While the time between Halloween and New Year’s Day can be hectic in households with young children, in family child care programs it can be almost overwhelming. That’s where planning can be especially helpful.
Planning for Client Families
Even if you don’t have new families enrolled this year, assume that none of them knows what will happen over the next few weeks. If you have a gathering for all of your clients, set the date well in advance so that they all have lots of notice and can make their own plans. Remind them regularly, both when the celebration will happen and what it will include.
Some providers choose a Winter Solstice party in place of a holiday celebration, others host a holiday gathering, and some plan activities only with the children during a regular child care day. Whatever you do, make sure that your client families are aware of your plans and their responsibilities. If you don’t already know, find out how your families celebrate (or don’t celebrate) during this time. Be sure to get the information from all of them, in case something has changed during the year.
If you and your family don’t celebrate holidays, don’t feel obligated to do something different from what you would normally do. However, make certain that your families are aware of your own practices so that they can be respectful of them.
Planning for the Children
Even for families who don’t celebrate, there are likely to be comments about what they “want for Christmas.” The children are exposed to it on television and throughout the community every day. Let them know what you’ll be doing and when you’ll do it. Experienced providers recognize that children’s behavior during this season can be different from what it usually is. Families are even busier than usual at home, relatives may be visiting or expected, and parents usually have more on their “to do” list than normal. It’s helpful for you to maintain your normal routine as much as possible during the child care day. Make sure you serve your meals and snacks at the usual time and keep their nutritional needs in focus now. Don’t make changes in your daily schedule, especially with nap time. Children may need even more rest at this time of year. Wait to introduce new toys, game, or activities until after the holidays and stick with the tried and true things that children are familiar with.
Planning for Your Own Needs
Remember your own personal needs as you do your planning. Know what stressors you generally experience at this time of year and be prepared for them. Keep in mind that young children recognize stress in adults and usually assume it’s their fault. Make sure that you’re taking care of your own physical and emotional needs, especially during this season. The children in your program will take their lead from you and if you’re overwhelmed or stressed, you’ll see changes in their behavior. Regardless of whether you observe holidays or not, take some time for you during the season to keep yourself healthy and well rested. You’ll be glad you did.