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5 essential tips for running a home day care

Kids can be a handful, and taking care of them professionally in your home is no small feat. That's why we've compiled these handy guidelines to help successfully prepare you to operate the most kid-friendly business in town.

1. Look into licensing requirements and regulations

The licensing must-haves for running a home day care might seem complicated, but the requirements, which vary from state to state, are really just rules that will make your job easier and your home day care safer.

Some of the requirements involve common sense and good safety practices. It's likely that you've already met many licensing requirements in your home day care. For instance, you must have a way of contacting help in case of an emergency. Basically, you're required to have a phone.

The same common sense mentality applies to child/caregiver ratios. The younger the child, the more time and attention they require. That's why requirements limit the number of babies or young children a day care can enroll.

To read up on the essentials for your state, check out state-specific licensing and regulation info from the National Resource Center for Health and Safety in Child Care and Early Education.

2. Get creative with your space

Having a big house with a room designated as the sole day care space will make your work environment easier to navigate, but you can still work spatial magic in a small home by getting creative with storage and play-friendly surfaces. It helps to consider the following:

Rearrange things

Thinking seasonally is important, especially if you live in a place with extreme weather. Do you have room in your entryway for a bunch of wet boots, or hooks for heavy coats? It helps to invest in a small cubed unit (think cubbies) and coat rack to keep near your front door.

Mind your materials

When it comes time for arts and crafts, try to use washable surfaces and keep activities limited to areas with mess-proof floors (like linoleum) or play mats. If you'll be caring for babies, figure out where you'll change them, store diapers, and keep spare clothes. Even if you're lacking the luxury of a big bathroom, keeping things on shelves or over-the-toilet storage racks can help.

3. Watch your language

Different parents and guardians have different standards of what's acceptable for their little ones to be hearing (and let's face it, repeating). Obviously swearing in front of children is a big no-no, but it's also good to limit your use of:

  • Gossip (about other kids, parents, etc.)
  • Adult matters (if it can be found on the nightly news, it's not suitable for tiny ears)
  • Complaints

We suggest you try to avoid anything that might upset your kids, basically any subject matter that doesn't foster a positive, compassionate environment. When kids are around, it's useful to treat your home as a purely professional setting. Even though you might feel frustrated or tired sometimes, always remember that you're being counted on to protect and nurture other peoples' children.

4. Make reading a top priority

It's no secret that reading can make you smarter, and that's why home day cares that make story time important do well with young kids and parents alike. It's good to make reading part of your routine and keep books handy because some kids will want to be read to, even if others get up and move around.

Even a basic change of scenery (like a pillow fort on the floor or a tent outside) is a great way to make story time exciting. And with tactile or spot-the-object books, children can be further involved in the story. Hands-on participation extends their attention spans and helps them enjoy reading early on.

5. Get insurance coverage for your in-home day care

Even if you cover your home in bubble wrap (note: please don't do that), accidents can still happen. One of the best ways to protect the kids you care for is with the right insurance. When you buy homeowners insurance through Esurance, you'll be able to add home day care coverage to your policy, which covers personal liability and medical expenses if you operate an in-home day care.

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