Behavior & Environment

Finding the Right Fit for Your Child Care Approach

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One of the biggest decisions a parent will make is who will care for their children they’re not able to themselves. And for a child care provider, as a business owner, choosing the right families for their program is essential to their job satisfaction and continuous income. Each person’s child care approach is uniquely theirs – and it can take time and introspection to reflect, define and find the parent/provider with a matching style. Here are the steps to guide you through this process:

1. Define your child care approach

Most of us have a vague idea in our heads of our child care approach. However, fewer can articulate it to others in a way that makes sense. Articulating it is important because it forces us to define exactly what we believe and do and the reasons behind it. That clarity turns vague ideas into a useable tool for everyday care and finding the right parent/provider fit. As you’re reflecting, consider these questions to help you define your approach:

  • What do I believe is most important for a child’s well-being and learning?
  • How do I view discipline and behavior management?
  • What role do I believe play and exploration should have in a child’s daily routine?
  • Do I prefer a structured or more flexible approach to learning?

2.  Make sure your approach is evidence-based.

Today, we have an incredible amount of research that tells us what supports the best outcomes for kids around every area of child care, from play to learning to discipline to safety. Your approach should align with these best practices. This doesn’t mean you have to become a robot and do things only as others prescribe. It means you should look at the elements of your approach through an evidence-based lens to make sure what you’re doing aligns with what we know is best for kids. Here are some common philosophies in early childhood:

  • Play-based learning: Emphasizes child-directed play as the primary mode of learning, fostering creativity, problem-solving, and social skills.
  • Montessori: Focuses on self-directed learning in a prepared environment, promoting independence, exploration, and hands-on experiences.
  • Reggio Emilia: Values child-led, project-based learning that emphasizes creativity, collaboration, and expression through art and exploration.
  • Waldorf: Emphasizes holistic development through a balanced curriculum of arts, nature-based activities, and rhythm and routine.

3. Talk openly about your approach in interviews/tours.

Inquire to learn more about the other’s approach to caregiving, curriculum, daily routines, and interactions with children. Seeing the atmosphere and adult/child interactions may well show you the approach. However, it’s great to ask the questions outright (parents) or answer them even if you’re not asked (providers), such as:

  • How do you view early childhood education and how would you define your approach?
  • How do you support a child’s social-emotional growth?
  • What types of activities and experiences do you offer to promote learning and exploration?
  • How do you communicate with parents and involve them in the child’s learning and development?

4.  Allow your opinions to evolve as you keep learning.

Your approach isn’t set in stone. Like all things in life, as we learn and understand more, we have the opportunity to do things differently. Welcome others as they challenge your ideas, question your beliefs, and offer alternative ways of doing things. You’ll either become more grounded in your approach, or you’ll find better ways of providing care. Either way, it’s a win.

Your child care approach helps define who you are as a child care provider or a parent. Take the time to define it and seek out the right fit for a positive and enriching experience for all, most importantly the kids.