Are you looking forward to summer or dreading the thought of having your schoolagers home all day for several weeks? For many family child care providers, transitioning to summer is a mix of wondering how to keep everyone engaged and taking advantage of every minute of sunshine. Yes, the infants and toddlers, especially, will still need a routine but thoughtful preparation can help make this a great experience for all the children in your care.
Planning is Key
You’ve probably already recognized that we believe planning is critical to operating a successful family child care program but it’s even more important during times when older children are out of school. Getting ready to have a great summer is a little like thinking about your garden before you plant it. Now is a perfect time to do some of the “prep” work.
Identify activities you and the children enjoy. These might include neighborhood walks, visiting local parks, attending story time at the library, taking swimming lessons at a local pool, and other activities that engage children of multiple ages. Have a list of those that you are willing to do and then take time to “plan” the summer curriculum with the children, especially the older ones.
You might make a list of the groups’ favorites and share those with your parent clients to ensure they are comfortable with the possible activities. Perhaps some parents will want to join you during some activities. Decide how often you’ll do a special activity – depending on the ages of the group you have for the summer you may choose to do no more than 1 or 2 during the summer or you may decide that you’ll do a different activity several times each week.
Think about what you’ll need to do to keep a routine for younger children at the same time you adapt to what happens during the school year so that you can accommodate a slightly different schedule. Can you begin making small changes to your schedule now to prepare for summer activities? How will you ensure regular times for nutritious snacks and meals are included?
Collect information about each of the activities. Have the children help you make decisions about which ones are “top priorities” and which ones they might choose as substitutes if necessary. If there are fees such as admission or registration costs that the parents will need to cover let them know as soon as you have the information. Many providers find that an activity calendar for the summer helps remind parents if special equipment or clothing is needed for a planned activity. Of course, you’ll still need to give parents verbal reminders about what you and the children will be doing.
After decisions about summer activities are complete, make sure you have all the information you need from and for parents, develop a travel portfolio that includes each child’s emergency information, check your first aid kit and add any missing items, and prepare to spend a great summer.