For parents who are searching for the perfect daycare for their child, the curriculum can make a difference in their final decision.
What Parents Look For
Daycares need to be a positive environment for the children attending the facility, and the first impression is important to parents. There are many aspects they will look at when doing their research, including:
- Staff/child ratio
- Daily schedule
- Curriculum for their child's age
- Curriculums for the next few years
- Childcare Costs
Importance of Daycare Curriculums
The structure of the day is very important to the welfare of children. If you are a daycare provider, you should put a lot of weight on the curriculum you are using to teach your children. Taking this step shows that you are planning ahead and offering structured activities. Having a curriculum can also help parents keep track of what their child is doing everyday.
A sign of a well thought out daycare curriculum includes activities that surround a weekly or monthly theme. Having a theme creates consistency for the children, and can make it easier to plan.
Many curriculums have a monthly theme which is divided into weekly themes.
There are numerous theme ideas out there. Some examples are:
- On the farm
- Letter of the week
- Family and pets
- Shapes or colors
- In the kitchen
- Famous authors: Eric Carle, Sandra Boyton, etc.
- Things that move
- Your day
- Fairy tales and nursery rhymes (Have a different story or rhyme each week)
Putting the Theme Together
Once you have decided on a theme for each week, you need to make sure your activities, snacks and crafts all tie it together. You can find curriculums already available which will give you ideas, or you can create your own. Each curriculum should fit into different learning styles and learning skills.
Crafts encourage creativity and should be a daily part of your daycare curriculum. For children who enjoy the hands on activities, consider offering a craft in the morning and in the afternoon. Adapt each craft for the age group.
Examples of craft ideas include:
- Pasting or taping
- Edible play dough
- Cooking or decorating cookies
Books are available that are filled with craft ideas to fit every theme.
Your daily activities should also fit into your theme. If you do circle time, this is a great opportunity to introduce the theme with a story. Other activities you can include are:
- Sing a song, dance and play instruments
- Play a game
- Share visuals (for example, if you are doing careers, introduce a fireman and doctor. If your theme is birds, bring a feather, egg and nest.)
- Have a discussion
- Show and tell
Children need the opportunity to dress-up and role play. Find dress-up clothes and costumes that fit into your theme, create a fun backdrop or build playhouse.A great place to find pretend play items you can use for your daycare curriculums is a thrift shop.
Here is a list of items to keep on hand:
- Play clothes
- Pretend jewelry and accessories
- A playhouse or kitchen
- Large boxes, which you can turn into anything your imagination desires
- A puppet theatre and puppets
Many household items can be turned into anything a child dreams up.
Part of your curriculum needs to involve getting up and moving. You can play games that fit into your theme, like London Bridge or making a train for things that move theme, or Duck-Duck Goose if you are doing animals. Also allow the children some free time to use some of their extra energy.
Your curriculum needs to teach, as well as be fun. The focus will depend on the ages and milestones of each child.
Babies basically need to be held, fed, changed and loved. However, incorporating a curriculum with songs, nursery rhymes and interaction will make a difference in their learning. Spend time on the floor with your babies helping them grow.
Toddlers learn through play. You will want to incorporate simple beginning concepts to your children to prepare them for preschool. Make sure you are doing:
- Nursery rhymes
- Basic colors
- Shapes and sorting
- Hand-eye activities like putting a thread through a hole and stacking blocks
- Physical activity and skills, like jumping
When your children hit preschool age, three to five, they are ready to begin:
- Writing (including their name)
- Learning the alphabet and beginning sounds
- Identifying colors and shapes
- More complex crafts and cutting along lines
When researching daycare curriculums, look for fun activities that are adaptable for all ages. Consider sending home a weekly or monthly newsletter to parents keeping them up to date on the activities you are working on, as well as their child's progress. Communication with parents can make a big difference in satisfied customers.