Learning to manage a child care can be a fun but difficult endeavor. You may go through several trial and error periods trying to find out what works for children. Attention spans are rapidly decreasing as the generations go by so as child care management workers, one can sometimes feel like a circus performer, juggling all kinds of acts trying to keep the children entertained. If you are beginning to feel exhausted with child care management, then maybe it’s time to get a little structure at your daycare. Kids feed off of adults’ emotions so if you are stressed and worried, they will be to. If you can remain calm and happy, chances are the children will imitate those positive emotions, making your day run a lot smoother.
- Pick Three Things
Instead of going through a million and one activities, desperately trying to find something that the children like, pick three and stick with them. If you want to change them day by day, that’s fine but for now, pick only three activities. For example, play dough, puppet shows and singing story time. Children will only get bored, if you get bored but if you are into what you are doing, it will spark their interest. As child care providers, your job is to extend their attention span, not to continue shortening it by switching up activities every ten minutes. Here are some ideas using the above activity examples to help you with child care management solutions each day.
Play Dough -Rather than let the children do whatever they want with the play dough, including eat it, bring out plastic cookie cutters and rolling pins and show them how to make shapes and mix the colors to define their projects. If you have the budget, you can set their projects aside to harden so that they can take them home when their parents come to pick them up. Some kids like having a theme so you could, for example, have them all make their own versions of their favorite animal or something like that. It’s amazing to see what kids can come up with from their imaginations.
Puppet Shows - Use silly voices and different pitches to carry out your scene. You may even pick a scenario from one of the children’s books if you don’t feel like you can effectively carry out an impromptu puppet show. Children love to interact with the puppets so you can have them ask questions and talk back to the puppets at the conclusion of the show, if you wish. Children are smart and will be looking for you so make sure you can stay hidden.
Singing Story Time - Choose an interactive book to read and in between, sing songs with hand and body motions to get their blood flowing before you read a different story. However, don’t just read the book out loud; get the children involved. After you read the page you can ask them to show you where certain items on the page are. Children love to ‘help’ so if you are reading a story about a naughty puppy, ask them where on the page the puppy is, or something like that.
- Pick a Time Frame
As mentioned, children have short attention spans. You don’t want to cater to this but you can only stretch it so far. Decide on how long you will engage in each activity and stick with it for a few days. If you find you need to tweak the times, then that’s fine but try to stretch it out a little bit. The times will vary depending on age groups but for here is an example of how your day could go:
- 9 o’olock – 10 o’clock is free play
- 10 o’clock – 11 o’clock is play dough time
- 11 o’clock – 12 o’clock is the puppet show
- 12 o’clock – 1 o’clock is lunch time
- 1 o’clock – 2 o’clock is nap time
- 2 o’clock – 3 o’clock is singing story time
- 3 o’clock – 4 o’clock is outdoor play
- 4 o’clock – 5 o’clock is free play.
Effective child care management is about structure and boundaries. Children thrive when these two things are in place. After school programs should focus on these areas.