For many child care programs, August signals the end of summer and a return to a “normal” routine. School-agers are reacquainting themselves with friends they haven’t seen for a time and getting used to new teachers and possibly even to new schools. It’s a good time for child care programs to think about examining their own schedules and routines. There are many reasons why being intentional about what happens in your program is important.
1. Planning is likely to raise the quality of care provided.
Quality in Family Child Care and Relative Care, written to share information learned in a study of the field in 1991-92, shares that “intentionality takes several forms.” (Kontos, et al P. 121) One of these is planning for the program. Providers who know and understand the children in their program and who plan specifically to support each child’s likes, dislikes, and developmental needs are being intentional in their practices. They recognize developmental milestones of young children and are prepared to help children at each of those steps. They are able to share information about each child with the child’s family and to suggest resources and support materials for parents who might need them.
2. Planning helps many providers meet state expectations.
As quality rating systems continue to develop across the country, one of the components is often focused on children’s activities, on curriculum development, and on how the adults in an environment support young children’s growth and progress.
3. Planning for your program gives you marketing material.
When providers are able to easily explain their child care philosophies and how they support each child’s individual development potential clients recognize a provider’s commitment to knowing and preparing for the needs of each child. When providers are able to explain how they recognize the next development milestone for children – especially for infants and toddlers – parents can be confident that the provider is planning for their child’s success.
4. Planning helps to provide a structure.
Providers who plan for their program have materials prepared in advance, are well prepared for individual children, and have a routine that children are used to and comfortable with.
5. Planning makes your work easier.
Plans don’t have to be rigid but knowing what comes next or what you’ll be serving for meals and snacks allows you as a provider to be ready and prevents children experiencing long delays waiting while things are prepared. Plans can be flexible enough that children who are interested in a particular activity can either extend or come back to the block structure they’re building but when children are actively engaged in things they enjoy and know what to expect next it makes the day more pleasant for everyone, including you.
You can probably think of many other ways that planning helps your program. If you don’t currently plan for your program, challenge yourself to do it for the next two weeks. See if it makes a difference. If you’re already actively planning your program, are there additional areas that you might want to be more intentional about?
Kontos, Howes, Shinn, Galinsky, Quality in Family Child Care and Relative Care, (1995) Teachers College Press, Columbia University, New York