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At-Home Childcare: Planning a Daily Schedule

Brushing Teeth, Free Play, Outdoor Play

All of the fraudulent work-at-home advertisements in the newspaper and on the internet can make it difficult to find a legitimate opportunity. But there are a lot of parents who long for a way to bring in an income with one parent staying at home with their children. Some households are successful in finding a way to do this-though not by perusing the classifieds and taking a chance on getting swindled. These families found success by having one parent stay home and open an in-home childcare business.

Opening an in-home childcare business does not have to be difficult. An in-home childcare business can be an informal endeavor, somewhat akin to babysitting, if that is what you want. Or, you can choose to keep your business more structured, more like a daycare or preschool setting. It is a matter of personal preference; however, keep in mind that your decision will affect your earnings. Babysitting services do not typically bring in as much income as do childcare services that include learning activities and organized events. If you opt to go with the structured childcare setting, you will probably want to get certified as a licensed childcare provider. One easy way to do this is through your county welfare department; see my article on this process here.

Regardless of which type of in-home childcare business you decide to open, it is generally best to have a daily schedule. Why? Basically, a daily schedule is best for you, the childcare provider-the schedule will keep you from going crazy from dealing with half a dozen kids all day long! Also, schedules are good for kids, as kids thrive on routines; children have better behavior if they know how their day is planned.

So, the question is: how do you develop a daily routine? The simplest way is to start with the meals and snacks. After you schedule those, you can fill in the rest of the day. Here’s an example of how a meal and snack schedule would look:

7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.: Breakfast

10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: Morning Snack

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12:30 p.m. – 1:30 pm: Lunch

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Afternoon Snack

5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.: Dinner

Now, perhaps you are wondering why so much time is scheduled for the breakfast meal. This is because the children for whom you will be caring may not all arrive at the same time in the morning, so you want to offer the morning meal for an extended period of time in order to take care of any late arrivals.

Since some children will eat their meals and snacks faster than others, you need to have a plan for what the speedy eaters will do when they are finished. You could offer a variety of different coloring supplies (crayons, colored pencils, markers, various types of paper, etc.), activity books, puzzles, or other independent, quiet activities. Perhaps a cartoon movie during the breakfast period might be a good idea to settle the kids into the day. Also, the parents of the children for whom you are caring will greatly appreciate it if you schedule for the kids to brush their teeth after breakfast and after lunch. So here is what the schedule looks like now:

7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.: Breakfast/Cartoon Movie/Activity books

8:30 a.m. – 8:40 a.m.: Brushing teeth

10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: Morning Snack/Coloring supplies

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 pm: Lunch/Puzzles

1:30 p.m. – 1:40 p.m.: Brushing teeth

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Afternoon Snack/Coloring supplies

5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.: Dinner/Get ready to go home

As you can see, there really are not too many sections of time to fill-and, the kids have not even played yet! So, we should add in a few free play times (this is time during which the children can play with any toys that you have made available for the day) as well as some outdoor play time. If the weather does not allow for outdoor play, this section of time should change to gross motor play-for example, you could set up an indoor obstacle course or play a beanbag tossing game. There should also be a learning time in the morning, often called “Circle Time,” when the children sit in a circle around the adult and talk about things such as shapes, colors, numbers, and more. Let’s add all of these into the schedule now:

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7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.: Breakfast/Cartoon Movie/Activity books

8:30 a.m. – 8:40 a.m.: Brushing teeth

8:40 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.: Circle Time

9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.: Free Play

10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: Morning Snack/Coloring supplies

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 pm: Lunch/Puzzles

1:30 p.m. – 1:40 p.m.: Brushing teeth

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.: Free play

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Afternoon Snack/Coloring supplies

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Outdoor play/Gross motor play

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.: Free play

5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.: Dinner/Get ready to go home

There are just two more sections of time to fill in now, and, luckily, we have two more activities to put into the schedule. One of these is story time; that will fit nicely in the 1:40 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. slot. The other activity is one that will rotate throughout the week-we can call that “Group Activities.” This will include such things as painting, music, play dough, free art, group games, science experiments, nature walks, and more. Since this is such a broad activity and can include a variety of different things for the kids to do on any given day (which you will have to plan out before the day begins, of course), a larger time slot makes sense. We can put this into the 11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. slot.

Now, we do need to address two more issues when talking about the schedule. First of all, some of the children for whom you are providing care may be accustomed to be taking an afternoon nap. It would be a good idea to let them continue doing so if at all possible. So, you may want to allow napping children to lie down during the 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Free Play time slot and make sure that the children who are playing are doing so in another room.

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The second issue has to do with school-age children. If you are caring for any children who are in school, chances are they will have daily homework. This needs to fit in your schedule at some point. The best place for this would be during the 4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Free Play time slot; school-age children can work on their homework in a quiet place in the home while the other children are playing elsewhere.

So, here is how the finished schedule looks:

7:00 a.m. – 8:30 a.m.: Breakfast/Cartoon Movie/Activity books

8:30 a.m. – 8:40 a.m.: Brushing teeth

8:40 a.m. – 9:30 a.m.: Circle Time

9:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.: Free Play

10:30 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.: Morning Snack/Coloring supplies

11:00 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.: Group Activities

12:30 p.m. – 1:30 pm: Lunch/Puzzles

1:30 p.m. – 1:40 p.m.: Brushing teeth

1:40 p.m. – 2:00 p.m.: Story time

2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.: Free play/Naptime

3:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.: Afternoon Snack/Coloring supplies

3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.: Outdoor play/Gross motor play

4:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.: Free play/Homework

5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.: Dinner/Get ready to go home

So, there you have it-a simple, basic schedule for your in-home childcare business. Sure, you might want to change some things, but at least now you have a guideline for how to plan your daily schedule. It is not difficult to organize a daily agenda, and you will definitely find that having one will be a great asset to your business.