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Tuesday, October 22, 2002 08:28 PM Last Updated


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Child Care Magazine

Archive Issue 2

At Home Child Care Jenifer McCrea 6/8/2001 Issue 2, vol.6.2 Child Care Issues Weekly Column
Prime Time Parenting, (2nd Issue)  Deb Graham 6/8/2001 Issue 2, vol. 6.2 Prime Time Parenting Weekly Column
Kitchenlab Kindermath, (2nd Issue) Noreen Wyper 6/8/2001 Issue 2, vol. 6.2 Kitchenlab Kindermath Weekly Column
Q & A (2nd Issue) Heather Haapoja 6/8/2001 Issue 2, vol. 6.2 Q & A Weekly Column
Finding Customers for Your Child Care Kaye Miller 6/8/2001 Issue 2, vol. 6.2 Start-Ups in Child Care
Where to Find Your Nanny Elizabeth Pennington 6/8/2001 Issue 2, vol. 6.2 Nannies & Child Care Weekly Column

Get Personal

By:   Deb & Dave Graham

Today, many of the problems that occur between parents and children are situational. If homework is a chore and bedtimes are worse, chances are, you're a working parent with more than your share of responsibilities for maintaining order in your home. With the high costs of living, rising divorce rates, and multiple marriages becoming the norm, traditional families (with a "stay-at-home" mom and a working dad) are slipping farther and farther away from what is typical in modern lifestyles.

The trouble is, our philosophies of home-life are still hanging on to what "grandma used to do." Not that grandma didn't have some pretty good ideas, sometimes. It's just that certain principles no longer apply. It is unfair to children (and to parents) to correct them for desiring more of your undivided time and attentionÖregardless of whether or not you can give it to them. Does this mean that you should be at the beck-and-call of a toddler who cries every time you leave the room or turn out a light, simply because you have to work for a living? Absolutely not. But the success-level of going against human nature to deal with problems like this is next to zero. Nine times out of ten, the only way these agonizing sessions come to an end is when the child simply "grows out of it" by entering a new phase in life with a whole new set of requirements that come with it. And sometimes, that takes years.

That's because it is the nature of every human to act like a human in any given situation. That is, unless the demands of human nature have been so consistently denied that a human's only recourse is to act like an animal. Which only happens in rare cases, at which point, you would probably be avidly consulting the yellow pages for exorcists instead of reading this parenting column. But does this mean every time you come up against this "human nature stuff" you simply have to grit your teeth and get through it, tell yourself "that's life," and hope your bout with this thing doesn't stretch out as long as your friend Sally's did? We don't think so. It is our belief that if human nature is the strongest influence on human behavior, working with it instead of against it will produce the best results. And after over twenty years of applying this philosophy in classrooms and individual families themselves, we have found it to be extremely successful.

So, what about this attention thing that spills over into almost every family activity that makes up your home-life? The key here is to recognize that the real need is not another story, or another glass of water, or one more time of anything. The need is more time. Period. And how do you do that when you're already "maxed-out" as it is? The secret is changing the time you are already spending with your child, to PRIME TIME. There are many ways to do this. But one of the most important things to take into consideration in making changes is that you do not waste what little time you do spend with your children, sparring about things you cannot change. You can't change human nature. But you can train up your children to be wonderful human beings. Children do not want to hear about the way things are; they want to hear about the way things are with you and themÖ they want to GET PERSONAL. As parents, we tend to spend a lot of time trying to explain the high cost of living to an eight-year-old, or our lack of energy for games to preschoolers whose idea of what you actually DO at work has never entered their minds. Children live in the here and now, and if it isn't personal, it isn't important to them.

So, get personal.

And if it is impossible to bring your children up to your level of  understanding (because they simply haven't grown into it, yet) then bring your understanding down to them. The way to start doing this is to take a good look at the things you are clashing with your children about. Is it a situational thing over which you or your child have no control? Then don't argue about it. Make personal issues your priority. If Johnny is continually interrupting your meal preparations to fuss about being hungry or argue about why he can't have a tootsie roll to "tide him over" until dinnerÖ don't correct him for fussing. Agree with him that it's hard to wait for dinner, and give him a choice of several things he can do to make the time go faster. Such as helping (setting the table, making a salad, etc.) or watching a TV program, or maybe just talking to you about his day while you are working. If you include him in some of those necessary activities like laundry, housecleaning, and meal preparation, he won't be so apt to feel left out when you have to "interrupt" your time with him to do these things. 

Another tip for making these times less painful is to try to stick to a routine. Children have no reserves. A great deal of their daily energy is spent with growing and learning, on top of the physical demands of ordinary living. If they are hungry, they are extremely hungry, if they are tired, they are extremely so. It is no surprise then, that dinner and bedtime are the two most volatile periods of the day in a home where there are no set times for these things. Dinnertime and bedtime might seem archaic in a society where families tend to spend more time away from home than in it, but our "biological clocks" still run on twenty-four hours in the day. Have acceptable snacks handy if you're not going to make it home by dinnertime - or better yet - make a surprise stop at a favorite restaurant. Don't wait for the fussing to remind you that children need to eat every day. 

Here is another important factor in improving communications at home by getting more personal. Don't make "no" so negative. Just because you have to deny your child something, you do not have to withdraw your affection, your approval of them as a person, or your physical presence to make it more effective. In fact, the removal of these three things is a personal assault on human nature and results in an automatic protest, no matter how justified your reason for withdrawing them were. The truth is you should NEVER REMOVE THESE THREE THINGS in your interactions with your children, especially if you have to tell them "no." Even though a request for something might not come at a convenient time for you, it is all-important for the child at that moment. To not look at them when you answer, to raise your voice, or criticize the request itself, is a personal affront to human beings which immediately take precedence over the original request and puts them "on guard" for a fight.

Let's take a closer look at the term "on guard." In fencing, it is not a warning. It means the swords have already been drawn, blows are going to be exchanged, and you are in danger of personal injury. The only way out of this situation is to defend yourself and fight back. If you are the first to put your child "on guard," it should not surprise you when they pick up the challenge. The outcome of these "mini battles" can go either way, depending on the circumstances (how tired you are, if you were really listening, or if you are prone to changing your mind easily). But the end result of this kind of interaction is the same as anything else you give time and effort to. 

Practice makes perfect. And no matter how good at dueling you are right now, your children will rise to every challenge, try to be just like you, and someday be better than you. That's a life cycle, and that's a given. Fighting and bickering have become the daily routine in many homes today, but it doesn't have to be that way. And if you want to break the cycle of fighting and bickering to resolve differences in your family, you're going to have to be the first one to lay down your weapons. This does not mean that your children will walk all over you from this point on. It simply means that - in resolving problems - fighting is no longer an option. Fighting is for wars. And unless you want your home to be a battleground or a combat training center for future conflicts, don't let it in your house. 

Here are five things you can do to get out of the fighting habit.

  1. NEVER YELL. Yelling is for trying to make yourself heard when others are far away, or for warning of impending, life-threatening danger.  Anything other than that is a personal insult to whomever you are directing it toward. The ONLY emphasis that yelling adds to whatever point you're trying to make, is to put the listener "on guard."
  2. DON'T INTERRUPT. Give your child the common courtesy of "hearing them out" even if they are describing or asking for the ridiculous. This doesn't mean you're going to agree with them. It means you respect them enough as a person to listen to what they want to say.
  3. NEVER CRITICIZE AN OPINION. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions (even teenagers) and they do not fall into the categories of right and wrong. If Jill likes green beans but Brian can't stand them, it's no big deal. But if Brian says they're only good for gorillas and proceeds to make monkey noises every time she eats one, it becomes a fighting issue.
  4. DON'T CALL NAMES. If you can't make your point without such references as "dumb," "stupid," or telling a child how bad they are, it's not worth pointing out. Certain behaviors may be judged as such, but to tag a child with such personal insults, leads to rejection and low self-esteem.

  5. DON'T BE AFRAID TO APOLOGIZE. If you have missed a call, or changed your mind about something you later thought about, make it right between you and your children. Unspoken apologies can lead to prolonged hurts, whereas those given freely can lift the heaviness off everyone.

KEEP YOUR COMMUNICATIONS PERSONAL. If you do have to say "no" about something, look your child in the eye, tell them quietly but firmly, and CLEARLY explain your reasons for making the decision. Telling your eleven-year-old daughter she can't get a nose ring because "it's stupid," is not a sufficient explanation of your reasons, even if it is your opinion. So, try getting more personal in some of your daily challenges with your children. It just might surprise you. Relationships are a two way street, and by respecting your children enough to do some of the things we've discussed here, you will be building their respect for you. How do we know? Because that's human natureÖ and that's what this column is all about.



At Home Child Care

By:   Jenifer McCrea 

Recently a friend approached me with an idea.  She had an acquaintance at church that needed someone to watch her 7-month-old son three days a week.  I had been looking for a way to make some money on the side to supplement my husbandís income.  I really miss having money of my own to spend. As a stay at home mom, my possible income sources are limited.

I have done this before.  About 18 months ago I took in the daughter of a woman, I will call her Candy, who worked with my husband at his former company.  I was supposed to watch the child three days a week.  The days would change based on the childís Grandmotherís schedule.  That should have been my first clue that this wasnít going to be a good situation.  Candy was supposed to drop off Emily at my house by 8:30 in the morning and pick her up by six.  Candy would call 9:00 Ė 9:30 in the morning and suddenly not need me that day, so of course I would only get paid for two days that week, and have to completely rearrange my schedule.

Candy also confided in me that the other caregiver was an alcoholic, and Emilyís constant crying was probably a result of the other caregiver not holding her much.  She also mentioned having difficulties with the familyís pet wolf.  I felt badly for the child.  Candy was smarter than I was though because she neglected to give me her home address, so I couldnít call Child Protective Services. 

Candy was completely thoughtless of my family and me.  She would not show up to pick up her daughter until well after 6:30 in the evening, and not call to tell me she would be late. This went on for about six weeks. 

Finally, one morning I was so fed up with waiting for her that I left to drive my husband to work.  Candy knew that we only had one car and if he couldnít arrange a ride, I would have to take him in.  When I got back, my front door was open, my back door was open, things were strewn around the living room.  Apparently, after realizing I wasnít there, Candy decided to go through the house.  Nothing was taken except the childís formula and the bottles Candy had left with me. Yet, it unnerved me.  I had locked the front door, so she must have come in through the back.  I didnít have to watch Emily anymore.

Therefore, I was apprehensive about taking in another child.  Here are the mistakes I made with Candy. She had been a friend, not a close friend, but someone we invited to parties before we had our son.  So, I didnít feel a need to put anything in writing. I was afraid of losing her friendship and rocking the boat for my husband at work, therefore I did not want to confront her about her thoughtless behavior.  Looking back now I cannot imagine what I was waiting for. I didnít make it clear to her that my time was valuable as well and if she cancelled at the last minute, she should still have to pay me.  I should never have agreed to shifting days.  I knew Candy, and I should have known that she would only be thinking of herself.  As far as she was concerned, I was at her disposal.  I should have been much more clear in what my expectations were.

If you are thinking about taking a child into your home, I would recommend several things.  First, find a friend of a friend or someone through a church other than your own.  In case of a disaster, such as Candy, you need to make sure this is not someone who is intimately involved in your life.  If you choose to take in the child of a friend, make sure it is someone who shares most of your views on raising children.  Second, put everything in writing. What your expectations are, i.e.: drop off and pickup time, days of the week you can watch the child, how much youíre paid, and who to call in the event of an emergency.  Equally important, get their expectations and a written copy of what a typical day for this child is.  When to feed him/her, naptimes, special routines are all very important facts you donít want to have to figure out. Make up a daily report for the child, include when they ate, what they ate, how many diapers you changed, what time was naptime, and anything special that you did that the child seemed to enjoy.  It helps you to keep track of your day and helps Mom and Dad feel more comfortable that they arenít missing everything.  Finally, talk to the parents.  Agree to an initial trial of one month.  It can take that long for a child to settle in to the new routine of coming to your house.  Donít hesitate, after the month is over to evaluate what has happened and if the extra money is worth the extra stress.  No matter what, adding another child into the mix of your family is always going to add stress.

For me, after doing careful research, and meeting with the family several times Iím not going to do it.  They were nice, but it was too hard.  My son is two and their child is 7 months.  Increasingly my son is trying our boundaries and I just do not think itís the right time.  Maybe someday, but not now. 



Kitchenlab Kindermath

By:  Noreen Wyper


Circles, circles everywhere,

Pennies, dimes and quarters to share.

Squares, squares, four sides the same,

Boxes, cubes and a fun board game.

Triangles, triangles, one, two, three,

Sides for a roof or a tent for me.

Rectangles, rectangles, short and long,

Doors and windows, books with a song.


Shapes in our houses,

Shapes on the street,

Shapes in pictures,

Shapes are neat!

Shapes: Two-dimensional: Tutorial # 2: To identify and sort the flat configurations of the circle, square, triangle and rectangle.

Always work with one shape at a time. Cut out a circle, square, triangle and rectangle from a cereal box or piece of paper. Give the child one shape at a time. Search the kitchen cupboards, drawers, appliances, floor and walls for this one particular shape. The circle might match up to the clock, stove burners, table top, tops of cans, bowls, cups and glasses. The square might match up to the tiles on the floor, potholders and serviettes.

The child could arrange the items per shape on the table in order of size from the largest to the smallest. Or, the child could trace the items out from the smallest to the largest. You could print the shape word on the shape so the child will become visually familiar with it.

The next step is to compare two shapes. Take a folded serviette and a paper towel sheet. How are they different? Keep emphasizing the attributes each shape has. The square has four sides the same length with four corners. The rectangle has two longer sides and two shorter sides with four corners. The triangle has three sides and three corners. Tri always means three. The circle is round. It doesnít have any sides or corners.


  1. Glue around the edge of the cardboard shape. Sprinkle salt or rice onto the glue. After it dries, have the child feel the shape several times always repeating its name. This is called tactile learning.

  2. Make 2D shapes on the table using straws or coffee stir sticks. Both can be purchased in the grocery stores.

  3. Attach toothpicks together to form the straight-sided shapes, using miniature marshmallows for joints. Make these same shapes using straight pretzels. Count out ten Froot Loops for circles. These are all edible. Enjoy!

  4. Slice off circles from your favorite veggies such as carrots, cucumbers and zucchini.

  5. Take a look at your cookie cutters. Talk about the shapes you have found. Choose two or three to trace out following a pattern from tutorial #1. Prepare your favorite cookie dough. Cut out a few shapes and arrange them on the cookie sheet in a pattern.

  6. Buy a package of rectangular sponges at the Dollar Store. Cut out the basic shapes. Dip them in paint or a diluted dish of food coloring and press them onto a paper from left to right, creating a pattern. Do several rows. Make your own wrapping paper.

Next week: Three Dimensional Shapes.




Local Paper vs. Nanny Agency

By:   Elizabeth Pennington 


Making the childcare decision can be a difficult process, but once you have come to the conclusion that bringing a nanny into your home is the best option for you and your family, the next step is to find the best nanny possible.  Typically, there are two methods of achieving this goal:  Either go to your local paper and place an ad or go through a reputable nanny agency.  Both routes have their advantages and disadvantages, and after considering your local paper versus a nanny agency, go with what you are most comfortable.

The mere thought of hiring through the paper may be enough to make the tiny hairs on the back of your neck stand straight up on end.  Letís face it...we watch the news and we hear of all the horrible happenings going on in our world, of the sorts of people who walk our streets.  Take the chance of bringing who-knows-what into your home?  Absolutely.  I was hired on through a newspaper ad, for a live-in position no less, that lasted for three great years.  I am very grateful that my employer took the chance with the paper, and I will be bold enough to say that she is grateful as well.  My employer and I both lucked out in that what I was looking for in a family very much matched what she was looking for in a nanny.  Years later, I am still good friends with the family and love those girls as if they were my own.  Take appropriate measures and careful steps and hiring through the paper can be a painless and gratifying experience.

My suggestion when you pick up paper and pen to write out your ad is to be very clear and concise with what you are looking for in a nanny and to describe in fair detail as to what your family is all about.  Do you have twelve children all under the age of thirteen or do you have a set of newborn twins?  Would you like your nanny to take the children out during the day on excursions or stay strictly at home?  What will the working hours be for your nanny?  Do you plan on considering your nanny as part of the family or more of an hourly worker?  A mature nanny will know what her capabilities and wants are and will answer your ad only if she thinks it can be a mutually satisfying working relationship.  Describing your family in such detail will be one of the first steps to ensure that your family and your nanny are a good match. 

Once you have your ad placed, be prepared for ALL kinds of calls from ALL kinds of people.  You may have 45-year old male construction workers calling about the job (this really happened to my previous employer) or folks with poor grammar or poor phone etiquette, or folks who barely speak any English.  As in this whole hiring process, whether through the paper or an agency, trust your gut instinct!  Itís amazing the vibes you can pick up just on the phone.  Donít be afraid to tell callers that you donít think they are what you are looking for.  Be polite yet firm. Donít worry about whether or not you have offended them in any way.  Your children and your home will be in the hands of your nanny during the day.  You have every right to be as picky and selective as you need to be.

You have a few, or several, possible candidates and you are ready to start the interviewing process.  When setting up the interview, ask the candidate to bring in references and a list of previous work experience with employersí names and phone numbers where they can be reached.  I would suggest an absolute minimum of three previous nanny or childcare jobs and three to four references, whether those references be past employers, high school teachers or college professors (depending on age and education level), or family members.  Also, ask they bring their driverís license and social security card.  The driverís license and social security card are for you to do a criminal and background check on the candidate.

Arrange a time for an interview when the whole family can be present.  Itís important for the nanny to be able to meet the children she may be taking care of, but itís also important that you see how she and the children interact.  Is there an instant chemistry and rapport between the nanny and the children?  Does she seem uncomfortable or not overly interested in the children?  Do the children shy away from her and seem uneasy?  Not only do you need to trust your instincts, but trust your childrenís as well.  Children are much more intuitive than adults and their reactions should be taken into great consideration.  Before the interview begins, have a list of questions ready.  Ask her to tell you about the nanny jobs she has had before.  Ask her what her philosophy on discipline is.  Be leery of any reference to ďpunishmentĒ.  A mature nanny will know the difference between punishment and discipline and will interact accordingly with your children when hired.  Ask her if she is CPR certified.  If she isnít, ask her if she is willing to be certified.  Ask her any questions you deem pertinent to a successful working relationship.  Certainly, there are private boundaries which shouldnít be crossed, so donít cross them. Treat and respect this candidate as you would like to be treated and respected.  Be prepared for the candidate to have a list of questions of her own. Answer them honestly.  An experienced nanny will enter the interview process with ideas of her own as to what will make a successful working relationship.  Not only do you need to like her, but she needs to like you as well.  This interview and the interaction between nanny and children will give you a fairly firm idea of what is to come.

Not only is doing a criminal background check a good idea, it is imperative.  For criminal history, you can either call your local police department and they will direct you to the appropriate office or you can do the check on-line at sites such as  The fees for either will be nominal.  Your peace of mind is worth whatever the fee.  I suggest you also call your local Department of Motor Vehicles to find out whether or not your potential nanny has any driving offenses, especially if you would like your nanny to take your children to the zoo, the beach, doctors appointments, etc.  Outstanding parking tickets or DUI charges may very well put an end to any further consideration of employment.  You may want to do a credit check as well, but I donít think it is very necessary.  If you feel more comfortable doing a credit check, then by all means, go ahead.

If references are exceptional and background check unblemished and the interview went better than hoped for, looks like you have yourself a nanny.  Congratulations!

Possibly, putting an ad in your local paper doesnít appeal to you.  Your next best option is going through a nanny agency.  Using an agency can be quite expensive, but remember, you get what you pay for.  I have been hired through  nanny agencies as well as the local paper, and I have nothing but good things to say about my experiences at the agencies.  If you use an agency that works with you and for you and values integrity, the path to finding a wonderful nanny should be quite smooth.  

Make sure the agency you decide on is reputable.  Check out the agency as thoroughly as you would a nanny.  Use an agency that a friend or family member has used and can recommend enthusiastically.  Call the Better Business Bureau to see if there have been any complaints lodged against the agency.  As well, visit the agency, talk to the employees, and sit back and see how they handle other clients they may be speaking to either on the phone or in person.  Are they respectful?  Do they know what they are talking about?  Are they willing to work with the client in every way possible?  Interview the director of the agency to find out what their philosophies and methods of operations are. Ask the agency if they can provide references and check these out thoroughly. If you are satisfied and more than comfortable with what you see within the agency, then sign on.

A nanny agency does most of the worrying for you.  After extensive and thorough questioning, they know what you are looking for and will go through their databank to find the closest match.  A reputable agency will have their nannies carefully screened and the criminal and background check completed.  On file will be the resumes and references and these will be provided to you for your perusal on finding a potential match.  Typically, the agency will do one of three things in order to get an interview set up.  They will give the name and number of a promising nanny to their clients (you), and it will be up to you to call the nanny to set up the interview.  The agency may give the potential nanny your name and number and let her take the initiative in calling for an interview.  Or, the agency may act as the go-between and arrange a time that is convenient for both parties.  Each agency has itís own way of operating, and again, be sure you are comfortable with the process.

In time, the interviews will be over and  you will be matched with a nanny you like, respect, and trust.  Both clients and nannies have signed agreements, either a formal contract designed by the client and the agency that spells out all that is expected within the working relationship, or an informal agreement which may include an initial trial period with a formal contract to come if the trial period has been a success.  The agreement may simply comprise of an agreement that the working relationship will continue for a minimum of a year, assuming all goes well, with a chance of renewal after that year.  The agency is invaluable as a mediator if one of the parties reneges on their contract for whatever reason.  I have seen instances of  both employers and nannies going off course and disregarding the set rules and expectations.  This relationship is extremely personal in that the nanny is in your home amongst your possessions, taking care of your children, possibly doing your laundry and preparing meals, answering your phone and generally being part of your family.  Tensions are apt to run high if expectations are not met and the communications are broken down.  The agency can step in and mediate, negotiate, and break the contract for you if you decide your nanny is not working out or if your nanny decides you are not working out and the relationship cannot be reconciled.

There are pros and cons to either route of hiring through a newspaper or going through a nanny agency.  I hope I have been thorough enough with discussion of each option so that you have some idea of what course of action will be best for you.  If you have any questions, feel free to contact me at any time.

Next week, this column will feature pros and cons for live-in or live-out nannies.  Which would be best for you and your family?



Finding Customers for your Child Care

By:   Kaye Miller

Build it and they will come.  That  is your greatest hope as you venture into the world of child care. Hope is good, but marketing is key to the success of your new business.  A simple effective marketing plan will not only get your daycare up and running, it will keep those customers calling. 

Good marketing does not have to be complicated or costly.  In all your advertising you will want to include six important things: who, what, when, where, why and how.

  • Who you are.
  • What type of services you will provide.
  • When you will be open for business.
  • Where you are located.
  • Why customers should use your services.
  • How you can be contacted.

After including this basic information, you can add whatever other information you like.  Here are just some of the methods you can use to effectively advertise your daycare.

  • Flyers 

    This is a great way to announce the opening of your business.  You can make flyers yourself on your computer with a program such as Print Shop or go to your local copy shop and have one made.  Flyers should be attractive and informative without too much clutter.  You want them to be professional.   Remember you are a business now and this may be the first way a prospective customer will learn about you.  I posted flyers about a month before I opened my daycare home to announce the day I would be open for business and to let parents know that I would be taking reservations.  After opening I updated my flyer to state that I was now open for business.   I also made a more informative flyer that showed a sample day and meal and also told them a little more about me.   I made this flyer on a heavier stock of paper so that I could fold it and mail it as a follow up to customers that had made phone contact me.


  • Bulletin Boards

After you have produced this great flyer, you need to get out and post it everywhere you can find a bulletin board in your community.   Some places that you can generally find bulletin boards are local businesses, churches, community centers, libraries, break rooms of large stores or companies, and apartment complexes.  Be sure to get permission before you post your flyer.

  • Sign

I think the best marketing investment that I made was to have a sign made to put in my front yard.  I not only received calls, but people stopped and come up to the door.  Since parents generally prefer to find child care in their own neighborhood, this is one of the best ways to reach your potential customers. I had a simple one made that had the name of my daycare and the phone number to reach me.  My sign was the type that realtors use to advertise homes for sale.  I had it made at a local sign company inexpensively and very quickly.

  • Newspaper

Newspaper advertising is expensive to do on an ongoing basis and I have not found it to be as effective in a large city.  If you live in a small town or have a community newspaper or newsletter that would be more likely to reach your customers.  

  • Referral Agencies

It is very important that you register with a local child care referral agency. They will generally have a questionnaire for you to fill out describing your services.  When parents call the agency for referrals, they will match the customers needs to your services.  

  • Customer Recommendations

Satisfied customers are the best source of advertising you can find and it's free.  Most of your customers will have friends that also have children and if they are happy with the care you provide for their child they will pass your name on to others.  I also offered a rebate to current customers.  If they recommended someone who become a client and I provided care for at least one month they would receive a discount on their next weeks fee.  This was a thank you I gave my customers for recommending me.

  • Provider Referrals

Getting to know other child care providers in your area will not only keep you sane, it is a great source for referrals.   Don't look at other providers in your area as competition because  when they are full they can recommend you and you can do the same for them.   

These are just some of the methods you can use to market your daycare.  To decide which ideas will work best for your daycare, you must analyze your resources and your community. 

Some things will work better in your area than others.  Be sure to ask every potential customer how they heard about your daycare and keep track of the answers so you will know what is most effective in your community.

If you use several marketing methods to advertise your daycare the customers will come. Then it is up to you to provide the best possible child care and make your business a success.


Question and Answer Column - Issue 2, Volume 6.2

By:   Heather Haapoja

****Correction: A reader wrote to me regarding last week's question, "How do I interview a childcare provider?" Cheryl, a childcare provider herself, reminded me that this type of interview is best conducted in two visits. "I cannot show my prospective clients my house and go over my business terms and provide my full attention to the children I am caring for." An excellent point. It is best to conduct the actual interview during off-hours and then schedule a time during daycare hours for an observation visit. Cheryl says, "I do welcome the parents who are still interested in my services, after the initial interview back during regular business hours, where they can watch me interact with the children and even have their children participate in the activities I do with the children." Thanks, Cheryl, for bringing up that point! Readers don't be shy! Send your questions to The column deadline each week is four days prior to publication, so if you have sent a question that is not answered here, look for it in next week's issue.

Q: My 2-year-old daughter catches every bug that goes around. I think it is because of the contact with so many children in daycare. Is there anything that I can do to prevent the next illness?

A: Considering the play habits of young children, passing along every germ is pretty much unavoidable. There are things that you can do, however, to give your daughter a better chance of fighting off the bugs.

Getting a balanced, healthy diet and plenty of rest will help her immune system operate at peak efficiency. Although the "twos" are known to be difficult about food, if you offer her a wide array of nutritious foods and minimal sweets, she will likely make the choices that her body most needs. You may also want to talk to her doctor about whether she might need a vitamin supplement, if she is not already taking one.

Work on making hand washing a habit. Thorough hand washing is instrumental in limiting the spread of germs.

For more information: The Agency for Health Care Policy and Research (AHCPR) offers the Child Health Guide online at or you can order the print copy by calling 800-358-9295. Request the booklet "Put Prevention into Practice: Child Health Guide" (Pub. No. APPIP 98-0026, revised 7/00) The guide covers all aspects of preventative health care including nutrition and check-ups.

Toddler nutrition news briefs, "Does Your Toddler Eat a Healthy Diet?" Chicago Sun Times article and "Practical Tips to go from Candy to Dandy" Sunday Gazette Mail article.,3332,05272001,00.html#256522.

"Ah Choo! Germs and Child Care" All about hand washing, from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 

A really good, thorough discussion of hand washing, including proper technique.


Q: I care for an 18-month-old little boy who has a habit of biting the other children when he gets mad. He bites hard and leaves marks. What can I do to stop this and how do I talk to his parents about the problem?

A: I had a similar situation in my own daycare. In my case, the biter had an older sibling also in my care who was often the target at home, so the parents were well aware of the problem. It can be difficult to bring up with parents, but they have probably already seen the behavior and have been attempting to handle it. Talk with them about how they are disciplining for the problem at home and about how they would like you to handle it. What is the right way to discipline? In my own research of the problem, there were three suggestions that came up regularly: 

  1.  Observe the child closely and attempt to distract when a situation arises that may result in biting.
  2. When biting does occur, firmly say, "No biting. Biting hurts." then turn your attention to the child who has been bitten.
  3. Leave the biter alone, or give age appropriate 'time-out' as behavior modification. Giving the child too much attention, even negative attention, may cause him to repeat the action for even more attention.

For more information: There are several articles on the subject of "toddler biting" on the web, including: Dr. Greene's House calls at

"Discipline for Toddler Biting Behavior" at

"Fighting the "Biting" at


Q: Where can I find some activities that I can teach my child at home? 

A: You can start right here at Child Care magazine! Check out the ideas and tips in our Projects, Crafts and Games Section, and the math exercises in the Kitchenlab Kindermath Section. There are dozens of books available at your local library or bookstore. 

Two to look for:

"Look at Me: Creative Learning Activities for Babies and Toddlers",  by Carolyn Buhai Hans

"Parents' Play and Learn: More than 300 Kid-Pleasing, Skill-Building Entertaining Activities from Birth to Age 8",  from Parents Magazine, (editor), with Karen White and Marge M. Kennedy.

There are also lots of resources on the Internet for learning activities.

Two that have a lot to offer:

Family at offers a customized activity search by age, skill and location.

Parent at Find activities by age group.


Q: I recently started doing daycare. Where can I find an inexpensive curriculum to follow?

A: One option would be to make up your own curriculum. Many daycare homes use weekly themes as a general curriculum. You can plan a whole year of weekly themes quite simply. Holiday weeks are the easiest, for example, "bunny week" at Easter time, "jack 'o lantern week" at Halloween, etc. On the remaining weeks, use your imagination, "fish week", "flower week", "circle week", "transportation week", there are endless possibilities. Then find or design projects for each day to go along with the theme. You can carry the theme into take-home notes and even meals and snacks, if you like.

Now that you have started in daycare, you will soon begin to receive curriculum offers in your mail from daycare mailing lists. For other great ideas check out the many Internet resources for providers.

There are many helpful links for curriculum theme and activity ideas at the Daycare Provider's Page: This link offers help with curriculum design, themes, activities, etc.

The Child Care Corner Preschool Curriculum at

Two of the many companies dealing in daycare curricula and materials: Carol's Affordable Curriculum at

Early Beginnings Preschool Program at


That's all for this week! Remember, send your questions to:

See you next time, 

 Heather Haapoja.

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