The daycare interview is vitally important to your success as a child care provider.
We all know how much first impressions count, so you want to make the best impression possible. Use the tips below to prepare yourself enough to keep any nervous feelings to a minimum and present yourself as the professional you are.
First off, you should know that all new daycare providers are nervous during their first daycare interviews. I know I was. That’s why I’ve prepared a checklist-of-sorts for you to follow.
Let’s start with the presentation of your home. I’ll assume you spent time planning your daycare and have child-friendly areas set up. I’ll also assume that you have taken safety issues seriously and have created a child-safe environment. That said...
Make sure your home is clean and tidy prior to the daycare interview, but not too clean. Why? Parents are looking for a home-away-from-home for their children. A place where their children will be cared for and safe. Not a place that is sterile and smells like antiseptics. That’s what hospitals are for. If there are a few toys not put away, or a woman’s magazine (something in good taste, of course) on the coffee table, don’t worry. Stay away from strong-smelling cleaning products just prior to the interview also. Many people are allergic and parents do not want to feel that you just cleaned to impress them.
Plan the daycare interview during hours you are not providing care for other families. You need to be able to focus your attention on the interview.
Let’s take this step-by-step…
The doorbell rings. You invite them in and are warm and friendly as you introduce yourself.
You invite them to join you at the table. I always start a daycare interview sitting at the dining room table. I say them because I encourage both parents to attend the interview if possible. There’s always a couple of minutes of small talk… (i.e. Did you have any trouble finding the house? Oh, it is cold out there, isn’t it?)
Typically the child comes with to the interview, so have an activity planned specifically geared toward the age of the child. Some children will be rather shy in a new home, so plan an activity where the child can sit right at the table by his/her parents. The activity doesn’t have to be fancy, a simple puzzle and a coloring book and crayons is fine.
Feel free to offer coffee or a soft drink.
So far, not so hard right?
Start by asking a question from my providers questions list. These are the questions you’ll want the answers to. You’ll need to find out enough information to make an informed decision regarding the family. The daycare interview is your time to find the children that are the best fit for your daycare. I know that new providers often want to jump in with the first families, because they want the job (and the money that goes with it). I do know, however, that you can make money spending your day with a difficult child and you can make money spending your day with a child who is a pleasure to be around. Which day would you rather have?
Check out my list of parent questions. These are the questions that most parents will typically ask and that you should be ready to answer.
If the thought of this part of the daycare interview makes you nervous, enlist the help of a friend or relative to role-play with you. Go over each of the questions until you feel you can give a confident answer. It also helps if your friend asks a few questions not on the list. You’re going to get all kinds of questions and you definitely want to avoid those little words, like “huh”, “what?”, and “ummm”. Feel silly asking a friend? Practice in front of a mirror. You can do this. The more practice you get, the more confident you are going to feel.
After a question/answer session I offer the parents a tour. Show the parents where the children will eat, sleep, and play. Make sure they see where the bathroom is. If there is anything unique about your daycare, now it the time to mention that as well. Do you offer foreign language lessons on the computer, weekly craft activities, a puppet theatre, all organic menu, story-time every day? Be sure to ask the parents if they have any questions.
Make sure the child comes along on the tour. Allow the child to choose a toy to play with if he/she seems inclined.
Then, we come back to the table and go over the forms.
Have your forms in a folder for parents. You should have:
I explain in simple terms what each form is and why I need it. I go over the basics of my policy handbook and my contract.
That, is the basics of a daycare interview. I will say, I do not advise accepting a family or signing a contract at this point. The parents take the folder with them and are told to let me know what they decide. Keep in mind, the real opinion that matters is yours.
If you have been given the name of a former daycare provider, follow through, and make a phone call. You’ll want to know if they picked up the child and paid on time. Ask how the provider felt about the family in general. Did the provider feel that the family respected her and her policies?
By the time a parent calls back, you’ll know whether to accept the child or not. This is, after all, your business.
_________________________________________________________________For some fun kids activities, go to KIDS ART ACTIVITIES for:
OR… hop on over to the FREE PRINTABLES section to make planning activities for your daycare practically effortless.