How to Plan Activities for Your Home Daycare
When you run your own home daycare, it is essential to have a schedule of events to help plan your day. Your schedule need not be set in stone. Flexibility is key. If something fun comes up, it is ok to veer off of your daily plan.
But remember, kids thrive on schedules. They like knowing what to expect. It seems like a lot of work to plan out activities, but trust me, it is easier than dealing with a bored child! There are a lot of hours to fill in a daycare day, so let's get started.
What to do all day?
Your plans will depend a bit on what ages of children are in your care. Babies and toddlers need more hands on care and constant supervision. Outings will need to be in fenced in parks and baby proofed areas. Preschoolers and school aged children are more independent. You have more options for field trips as you don't have to worry as much about them running off. You can also do more elaborate arts and crafts. And they will sit longer for story time. If you have a variety of ages in your care, it can be tricky to find something that will engage the older kids while being safe for the smaller ones.
Your daily schedule
You need to plan some structured activities such as circle time or arts and crafts. It is very educational for the children. Circle time is a great time to read stories, do rhymes, sing songs or play with finger puppets. You can choose themes based on what season or holiday it is. Or you can gear it towards your childen's interests. For example, if someone likes dinosaurs, you can read dinosaur stories, sing dinosaur songs and give them a dinosaur sticker at the end. Circle time can last from ten minutes to about an hour, depending on the attention span of your children.
Art and craft time is good for developing children's fine motor skills. It develops their right brains and their imagination. It lets them have an outlet to express themselves at any age. You can let the smaller ones loose with finger paints or playdough while the older kids do more elaborate projects.
You all need to get outside once in a while. Hopefully you have a fenced in backyard that the kids can run around in. If you live nearby a park it is nice to go and see other people. Making friends with other child care providers is handy. You can bring the kids to visit their home day care and vice versa. And take advantage if your area offers playgroups. Sometimes there is a small fee but it is worth it to have a place to go, especially in the winter months.
You can't plan every minute of every day. Kids should have some time for free play, where they can do what they want and play with who they want freely. This teaches them how to get along with others. Let them take the lead here and tell you what they want to do.
Meals and snacks should be scheduled for certain times so that the kids learn when to expect food. This eliminates grazing. You do not want them asking for snacks at different times or you will spend your whole day feeding them. And they may eat more at meals if they know they aren't getting any more food for a while.
Nap or rest time is necessary for you and for the children. Some kids will still need their daily nap. Older ones who do not can quietly look at books or do puzzles. Usually the afternoon is the best time to schedule a nap. Tire them out in the morning, feed them lunch, then read a few stories and they should be getting drowsy. Now you can have a break yourself.