Congratulations on making the decision to start your own preschool! Whatever your reason, whether you’re a teacher with a vision or a parent who sees a need, opening a preschool isn’t easy. If you want to run a successful preschool, you need expert advice, a clear preschool business plan, and preschool software or a childcare management app to help you stay organized and streamline your operations.
A preschool business can be a good choice if you have a nurturing spirit, plenty of energy, and an interest in stimulating young minds. In this business, you will provide supervision, fun activities, and educational opportunities for small children. In most cases, starting a preschool business means working with 3- to 5-year-old children. You can run a preschool business out of your home, in many areas, or from a commercial space
So does your community lack quality preschool and child care programs that prepare them for kindergarten and beyond? Here’s a data source on the number of kids in your area.
Your success in opening a preschool will depend on careful management of the startup process. This guide will explain exactly how to start your own preschool, from writing a business plan and choosing a location, to marketing, hiring, and managing your day-to-day operations with the help of a preschool app.
Before starting any business, you need to determine if it is right for you both personally and professionally. Here are a few items to think about.
1. Create a business plan
The very first step towards opening a preschool is thinking like a business, and a proven way to do so is by creating a business plan.
You’ll need to do your research, with a focus on understanding the costs involved in successfully launching a profitable preschool business.
Writing a business plan is a helpful exercise that forces you to plan ahead and anticipate many of the challenges that can often lead to failure when they are overlooked, such as:
- Is there enough demand for a preschool in your area (e.g. are there more families with young children in your area than existing preschools can accommodate)?
- Are there enough working parents or big offices in your area?
- Are you able to get a favorable rental term?
- How much will it cost to operate your business?
- Validate your idea with your friends and families.
- How much will you need to charge per child, and do you have enough space?
- How will you promote your preschool business to get children enrolled?
- How many families with young children live in your area? How many of them need child care?
- Who else is providing preschool in your area? Is there a need for preschool for a specific age group?
- What is the market rate for preschool in your area?
- How much will it cost you to operate a program on an ongoing basis? What do you need to charge to have a profitable program?
- How will you attract parents?
- What will make your preschool or child care program stand out from the rest?
- Are you using your own money, or are you seeking a small business loan? Have you looked into preschool grants?
2. Find a location for your preschool
Are you opening a small, home-based preschool, looking to rent an existing preschool facility, or starting a preschool from scratch with a brand new facility? In any case, you’ll need to find a home for your preschool. Check your city’s zoning laws and preschool licensing guidelines when you’re making this decision to be sure your location is compliant.
- When making this decision, consider that home-based preschool businesses generally have fewer expenses and lower overhead, have more flexible hours, and are more convenient for you and, likely, the parents whose needs you will be serving. The legal requirements to operate a home-based preschool business are also generally less strict than those for a center-based preschool business.
- On the other hand, a center-based business—while probably more expensive to establish and operate—will provide greater space so you can expand your business and earn greater revenue.
3. Competitor Research
You will be able to compare services provided by competitors must be considered and compared to your own services. For example, what kind of curriculum is being offered? Is it new and innovative? If not, how can this be capitalized on? Other concerns might be special services such as longer hours, pick-up and drop services for kids, special needs children, sick child care, or after-school program. Also, what are the rates for these services? The bottom line is provided the parents with the best value!
You need to spend a lot of time in research for a good curriculum for your preschool.
Your business plan should include a mission statement that will guide your curriculum and program philosophy.
Whether you adopt an existing pedagogy or create your own written framework, provide a learning environment that starts children down a road toward academic success and enhances their skills and knowledge. You should keep the following in mind before choosing a curriculum for your preschool
Based on current child development research. It is not acceptable to just throw out a program that is purely “fun.” You must actually research how children learn best and incorporate that into their model.
Practical to implement. It should have guidelines for not only how to structure the learning activities themselves, but also on how to set up the learning environment, how to interact with parents (if you are a classroom teacher), and how to adapt lessons to meet individuals’ needs.
Provide support and training. This is especially important in the beginning when teachers and support staff are learning the materials themselves.
Appealing to children. Of course, the activities that the children participate in should be engaging, as well as be instructional.
Broadly there are these curriculums which are followed the most in the world
The Montessori program
Founded by pediatrician/psychiatrist Maria Montessori in 1907, Montessori school programs (there are over 5,000 in North America) emphasize the importance and connection of all living things, and the need for each person to find meaningful work and his or her own place in the world. Children learn about other cultures, animals, and plants in addition to reading, language, and mathematical skills.
Who it’s best for
“Kids who want a hands-on learning environment suited to their own needs,” says Chelsea Howe of the Montessori Foundation. Special needs children thrive, especially those with attention deficit disorder (ADD) or other learning or psychological problems, because of the individual attention teachers pay to each student.
The Waldorf approach
According to Rudolf Steiner, founder of the first Waldorf school at the Waldorf Astoria cigarette factory in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1919, a person is made up of three aspects — spirit, soul, and body. The more than 750 Waldorf programs around the world aim to stimulate and develop these three elements in young children by immersing them in nurturing surroundings. Kids are encouraged to engage in creative free play rather than watching TV and videos and playing computer games because those activities get in the way of using all five senses to absorb and actively engage in life.
Who it’s best for
Waldorf programs tend to be more group-oriented than those at Montessori schools, for instance. If your child thrives on order and rhythmic repetition, this may be the best option. But a Waldorf education can benefit almost any child, says Patti Regan of the Waldorf Early Childhood Association of North America. Waldorf teachers believe that even children with special needs can bring something important to a group. However, the program is not recommended for children with severe developmental disabilities.
The HighScope approach
The HighScope program is based on the theory that children need active involvement with people, materials, ideas, and events. It is a curriculum of “shared control” in which adults and children learn together. Like Montessori, the core belief is that children learn best by pursuing their personal goals and interests. In HighScope, however, children are encouraged to make their own choices about materials and activities — teachers are trained to support this independence and decision-making. The HighScope approach is newer than the Montessori approach but has four decades of research proving its effectiveness in promoting children’s development
Who it’s best for
The HighScope program is a good fit for any child who needs individual attention. It was originally created for at-risk urban children and used successfully in conjunction with the government’s Head Start program. Today it is more widely used in a variety of preschool settings. It’s also effective for children with developmental delays and learning disabilities because it is tailored to each child’s individual level and pace, explains Ann Epstein, a developmental psychologist and director of the preschool department at the HighScope Educational Research Foundation. If you want your child in a very structured, adult-directed environment, HighScope may not be the way to go.
In a nutshell, hundreds of independent preschools and childcare centers around the country don’t follow any one of the preceding approaches to the letter, but instead, mix and match various elements of them to form their own program. Activities and curricula based on the work of Jean Piaget, a Swiss development/education pioneer who died in 1980, are also popular, as are schools modeled after hugely successful preschools in Reggio Emilia, a town in Italy.
4. Invest in preschool software
One of the best ways to start a successful preschool in 2019 is to take advantage of the amazing preschool technology at your disposal. Streamline your administrative tasks with the best preschool app and you’ll have more time to focus on providing your families a top-notch preschool experience–which is your whole goal anyway, right?
Illumine is an easy-to-use child care app that will help you manage your preschool and stay in touch with families. Your staff can use illumine for recording and tracking daily events and activities, and parents get real-time updates delivered to their mobile devices throughout the day. Delight parents and bridge the gap between learning that happens in your program and learning at home using our preschool app for parents. Our powerful preschool app also offers secure, digital check-in/check-out, live streaming and an automated paperless preschool billing system. This is a great way to keep your families looped in on daily activities.
5. Prepare your preschool facility
When you are starting a preschool business, you could expand or renovate an existing facility, open a small home-based program, or find a new site. Whichever option you choose, evaluate the site and neighborhood, verify with your city’s zoning laws and preschool licensing guidelines that your location is compliant, and check your state standards to learn how much space you will need based on the number of children you plan to accept.
Depending on type and size of your preschool and the state it is located in, you’ll need a different type (or types) of insurance. This will include general liability insurance, property insurance, professional liability insurance, and workers’ compensation insurance. Contact an insurance agency or your state insurance commissioner’s office for more information.
Now the fun part.
Transform your center into a place that is safe, clean, comfortable and inviting to parents and children. Purchase child-size tables and chairs, nap mats, art materials, educational toys and games, books, outdoor play equipment, and other furniture and educational supplies for your preschool or child care business. Don’t forget safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, smoke detectors and locked medicine cabinets.
6. Live Streaming / CCTV access
In our last blog, we had highlighted why allowing preschool and childcare parents to give access to school’s cctv is a good idea.Parents are full of anxiety, apprehension, and doubts when they leave their children in a school. The best way to relieve them of their anxiety is to give them live access of the classroom. You can buy preschool software that has an integrated live streaming feature so you can control the access of the parents.
Schools realized the parental concerns and apprehensions. Over time these reduce too once the child gets comfortable. But the research has shown that parents prefer to put their kids in schools which has live streaming access for them. The modern chains realized that and now even smaller ones have started following it. Some of the schools that were the first movers in this were
7. Obtain necessary licenses.
In the vast majority of cases and countries, you will have to apply for and be granted the proper licensing in order to care for children. The type of licensing you will need will depend on your jurisdiction and country. Your local municipal government office should be able to tell you what licenses you will need to obtain in order to run your preschool business. Your state’s licensing office should also be able to provide you with an overview of the licensing requirements applicable to you, which you should read carefully. This process will likely involve some or all of the following.
- Attending an orientation session where you will learn about state and local requirements for operating your business and complying with applicable state law.
- Filling out a licensing application.
- Paying a licensing fee.
- Working with the licensing agency as it reviews your business plan, inspects your facility, and completes the licensing process.
- Taking classes focused on CPR, first-aid, and the like. Have these instructions pasted on the prominent locations of your preschool facility?
- Undergoing a background check (and fingerprinting) for you and any prospective employees.
- Undergoing medical testing/immunizations for you and any prospective employees.
- Get a license from the fire safety department. You should have a fire evacuation plan as well as fire-extinguishers in place.
Parents always appreciate transparency since they are leaving a piece of their heart with you. If you explain to them your process and that you have met all the safety requirements then they will have a sense of assurance.
8. Market your preschool business and seek applicants
At the very least your child care center will need marketing collateral and an online presence. Make sure you register yourself in the google business directory. You should hire a digital agency to make sure your business is marketed to parents who are searching schools for their kids. You should create a Facebook page. The Facebook page should have your business philosophy and pictures of your facility. List your business in local child care directories and participate in preschool enrollment fairs in your community. You should definitely have a professional design your website and also install live inquiry software on the website.
Let others know about your new preschool business by posting fliers in places parents frequent, such as libraries, grocery stores, and community centers. Place ads in local newspapers and phone directories as well. In addition, ask local schools that do not have preschool programs to refer parents of preschoolers to you or allow you to post fliers on their bulletin boards.
Starting a preschool center can be challenging, but running a successful child care business is extremely rewarding. Make things easier for your preschool with the best preschool app for kids, teachers, and parents. Wishing you the best of luck on the journey to open your own preschool.