Thursday, 24 July 2014

Ideas for promoting and advertising a home day care business.


I never underestimate the importance of promoting and advertising my day care business in the community...and neither should you.

I know many coordination units or schemes send parent referrals to their educators but I really think if you are relying on this as your main source of advertising then you are doing your own business and sense of worth as an early childhood professional a disservice. If you want to look professional and stand out from the other many child care options these days then you need to act professionally and that means branding yourself and doing a little old fashioned legwork. Yes you will need to spend money on your promotion but you don't need to go overboard and you can do a lot of it yourself. AND it will pay itself off after those new families begin rolling in !

I thought I would share some of the ways I have promoted my service since beginning and after a year I am  now starting to see the benefit of branding myself and standing out a little from the crowd. Word of mouth has begun to spread to and I always think this is the most valuable form of advertising. Parents like to know what other parents have experienced, they want to be reassured and know that others have felt comfortable leaving their children this care environment.

So here are my top tips for getting yourself out there.....just like the centre up the road or the preschool around the corner. You are not a babysitter, you are a qualified early childhood educator, a professional and as such you have the right and the need to compete with those people who usually have the big (or at least some)  advertising budgets. Don't sit there waiting for families to just knock on the door...get yourself out there and visible now!




12 Strategies for Promotion



A Logo



Seriously, just because your scheme might give you a little sign to stick on your fence doesn't mean that is saying much about you. Why not come up with a business name you are happy with (I kept it simple and friendly) and then play around with a few clip art pictures or ask an arty friend to draw you up something. It really doesn't need to be a huge production, just something that helps you to stand out from the other child care services in the area.

I was lucky to have a wonderful and talented friend in Kate from Picklebums (if you haven't checked out her blog please do, it is one of those that originally inspired me to begin a blog myself!) design my logo. The brief was pretty much outdoor fun, chickens, kids and trees. Nailed it I thought ;)

If you don't feel you can do a logo then at least settle on a name and a picture that sums up the individual service that you offer.

Once I had my logo sorted I was ready to create and distribute!

Business Cards.

Obviously. Not really much else to say about them. So many places do them cheaply now, you can upload a file online, get them to design you one or go into a shop to pick a style. Whatever you decide to do promotion wise at least get yourself some business cards. While you are there get some fridge magnets too. I put them in all my parent enrolment packs and they weren't much more than the cards. And whose logo is everyone looking at on their friends fridge when socialising with the kids? Yours!

Put cards in your purse, your pockets and your car. ALWAYS have some on you. My girls wear their FDC yellow hats with my logo (no picture because I know if you read this blog or my facebook page you are probably tired of seeing them in every photo!) to the park and I am often asked for details there by other parents so I just whip out a card.

When going to the park or child orientated places I also take my trusty canvas bag which advertises my business everywhere we go! You never know when an opportunity will present itself, that's the beauty of having your own business to promote. Can't be shy when you are poor ;)

Please make sure to have your contact details easy to read, no one wants to squint to see a phone number people. Ok, just get them, that is all.

12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem


12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Stickers

Ok, these aren't essential, but goodness they have come in handy! I used the same design I did up for the cards and again they were really cheap. I got mine as part of a package with Vistaprint. That place makes things so easy for small business owners!

I use them on books and folders and anything visible really. The main use though is on the front of parent information packs. They look awfully professional on my nice yellow folders if I do say so myself and what are you? A professional. That's right, just checking you are hearing me! Anyway, not essential but they do help give your service a quality look.

12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Parent information & Enrolment Packs

Please take the time to make up one of these for your service. Don't hand over bits of paper to a busy prospective parent who is wrangling a child. More often than not it will be lost when they get home...or that could just be my own parenting experience talking...in any case, it doesn't look professional and what are you? That's right, so look like one. You want to stand out, you want to show that you take pride in your service and put effort into all that you do. In short you want to make a good first impression.

I wrote mine up as a Word document and also have a PDF copy saved so that I can email them out to parents when they call or email and request information. I find it saves you time because I include my philosophy, hours, fee schedule, routine etc and rather than telling my life story to a person enquiring on the phone while I have toddlers demanding attention I can exchange some basics and forward this onto them. If they don't like the price or information they see then I haven't wasted my valuable time but I have been professional and courteous. My tip is to be thorough in your information in this book as it will save you a lot of time and angst with parents down the track! I also hand out my scheme's handbook for parents but my own showcases my unique service.

I include these in a bright yellow folder with all enrolment forms, a business card and fridge magnet. Upon actual enrolment I also give the children a logo hat so that they can also be advertising my service at friends houses and at the park on the weekend!


12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem


12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Photo Books


12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem


Photo books are a wonderful tool for promoting your service. They are easy to put together and relatively inexpensive. I made one up with lots of photos of our different activities and indoor and outdoor environment. Happy engaged children's faces will always promote your service better than anything you can say!

I like to have mine on display in my sign in area to show new parents as they wander through on a visit. The children also love to look at themselves in a book and share with new children! Pictures can be such a valuable tool for your advertising.

12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem


Brochures, Pamphlets and Notices

The second thing I did after  making up my business cards was to develop a brochure. I just did mine in publisher, if you don't want to create your own, places like Vistaprint can help you with basic designs etc. 

If you do your own try to make them immediately visually appealing....you want people to want to open them up to see more - I prefer pictures over large blocks of text because I know what being a busy parent is like!

12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I included photos of my indoor and outdoor environment, a few crafty activities and some of my girls to add a welcoming family touch. I also added a little bit about me, my experience, my philosophy and what children can expect when they come to play and learn. This might be your first point of contact with potential clients so make your business stand out from the others...make it bright, make it fun, make it happy, make people want to pick it up.

12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Don't forget to add your contact details to the front page so they are easily accessible to readers or when displayed on noticeboards and fridges. I think it is nice to have a little tagline that sums up your service and what you are offering too. Mine is "Inspiring and encouraging children to play, learn, experiment and get messy"

Once you have those beauties all printed up and ready to go get out into your community and do some letterbox drops...I have a few more ideas for you below about where to distribute them (and I mean that in the nicest possible way ;) ).

12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem


Signs and Banners

Not really rocket science here...get one, get two, get them up!

The one on my fence is just a canvas banner that we tied securely. Tied it even more securely after the first storm came through and pulled it off the fence unfortunately. Actually His Patient Self ended up screwing it (or something handyman like) to an old bit of board we had and then screwing that to the fence to give it greater longevity.

It cost less than having a sign made up and I think it does the job well. I get a lot of enquiries from people driving or walking past so never underestimate that potential. It all helps. It also helps when directing new parents to where the house is located..don't want them getting frustrated and giving up before they even find you!

I just did my design up in Word and then uploaded the file to Vistaprint. No I'm not getting paid to keep mentioning them (although that would be lovely Vistaprint) but I know I will get questions about where I got things printed so best to mention it now!.

I also used this design to get a few car magnet signs made up. They work well too, especially when at the park or shopping centre although sometimes I wish I had taken them off  when my twins begin throwing a huge tantrum or do something equally embarrassing that doesn't look good for a parent let alone a parent and educator. Same for wearing my work shirt with logo. Sometimes you need to pull a jumper over the top if your kids begin to implode on you in public...just a little tip ;)

12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Social Media & The Web

This is another area well worth focusing on. Get an add on Gumtree if you can. It's free and I always receive a lot of enquires from there. Make sure you present yourself as a professional and try to stand out from all the other ads a little if possible. If you want to see how I wrote mine up you can check it out here.

You can also advertise in Facebook parenting groups for your area as well as the buy,swap,sell pages. My only caution here though is not to give out to much personal information in the main forum. Ask people to message or email you for further details.

The Care for Kids website is another avenue for advertising and also handy for seeing what other services in your area are charging so you can make sure you aren't over or under pricing yourself.

I also advertise on the Family Day Care Network Australia site which reaches a wide parent audience

Print Advertising

Once you have your basic business card size design you can also use that for placement in print media advertising. Community newsletters and  papers as well as local 'family' type magazines are often a wonderful source of potential families and I have advertised in both. I find advertising in the local papers a little too expensive for the returns I get but it might work better in your area.

Also try school newsletters (just email or call the front office, most will have a small nominal fee to include your business size ad or some will do it for free as part of a community service to their families.)

Keep an eye out for or ask what media parents in your own circle often read and then advertise there.

Community

This is where your brochures or postcard size advertising material really come in handy. I also do an A4 size noticeboard type poster that has less information than a brochure but works well on community noticeboards and other pinboards or poles or walls or whatever else you can find! Obviously seek permission first...or at least try to...it's your name going up there and remember that you are a professional!

12 Strategies to Promote your home based child care service -  Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Some other places to leave brochures or posters in your community might include:

Playgroups
Toy libraries
Market stalls
Mummy groups
Kids sporting groups

Open Day/Morning Tea

This is another idea that can work really well. Put some notices up around town or in your local newsletters and places listed above inviting people to come to your service for a morning tea and play. Set up a few activities (ideally outdoors I would suggest), a fruit and cracker platter and water. Be prepared with parent information and enrolment packs and to sell yourself!

Be Unique

When advertising think about things that might make you stand out from the crowd a little...what makes your service unique? What is important to families in your area? Do some research and see what other family day care educators are offering in your area. Meals? Nappies? Bedding? Perhaps you offer a dedicated Waldorf, Montessori or Reggio education method or environment. Maybe you have a focus on outdoor play and sustainable practices like I do. Perhaps you offer a little of everything. Look at your market and what does well in your area, think about offering something that separates you and makes you unique. 

Often parents are willing to seek out those that match their own values, philosophies and lifestyle.

Above all...DON'T GIVE UP! There will be times you have no vacancies and times you do. You are self employed and you are running a business. Work is never guaranteed but by being consistent and always being prepared to promote yourself you will get there. Don't rely on others to get the work for you.

Now I know some educators are reading this and saying "But my scheme doesn't let me advertise - I have to rely on their referrals" I can't really advise you what to do in this situation except to suggest politely that you look around and find another scheme in your region. You would be surprised how many coordination units will tell you they are the only one in your area when this isn't actually true. Just saying...be proactive and assertive, don't just give up.

For those that are always asking me I am currently registered with Multitask and enjoy the support of an experienced and lovely coordinator (CDO) which makes my job a lot easier.

I hope some of these tips help you to promote your new or existing home day care service. If you have other suggestions or something that has worked for you why not share it with everyone in the comments section below. You can post as anonymous if you like!

Good luck, you can do it and do it well. Because what are you? That's right....A Professional Educator!

If this is your first visit to Mummy Musings and Mayhem and you like what you see you can follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more inspiration, frugal fun, recipes and mayhem!



Warm Wishes...


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Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Our Weekly Wanderings - Ideas for Play Based Learning at Home!


Welcome to another Weekly Wanderings where I share some of the fun we get up to each week in my home based child care service and with my own 4 year old twins. The aim of this series is to provide a little inspiration and hopefully a few ideas for parents and also those working with children.

I am a huge believer in play based learning, outdoor exploration and letting kids be kids while they can. I also believe that play and learning does not need to be expensive nor time consuming to set up and pack away. Above all it should be fun for both you and the children.

Let's take a wander through our days last week.....



Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I picked up some little whiteboards calling to me from the clearance bin last week in our local Officeworks and the kids have been loving expressing themselves creatively on a different medium.




We went on an outdoor 'Bear Hunt' on a beautiful Winter morning....


There was the discovery of lavender flowers in the garden....


Which we collected and then added a little dried lavender to for a fairy tea party....


I set up a little fairy picnic invitation to play in the imagination circle outside for my 3 year old group of girls.....

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Some coloured gems and stones made perfect food for scooping and mixing and pouring. Lavender was added to pots and cups and we chatted about how it smelt and what it might be used for.

Fairy and gnome friends were found under rocks and in the flower beds...

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem




Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I decided to extend their interest in the lavender and added a bowl of dry and fresh lavender to the craft table.


Squeezing some coloured glue onto shapes cut from wading that was used as packaging. To make coloured glue I just added a little edicol powder dye to some glue squeeze bottles along with a little water and then gave them a good shake.

The 3 and 4 year olds always love using squeeze bottles to get creative as they can use them in so many different ways and they give their fine motor muscles a good workout at the same time!

Sticking lavender to their creations was very important work and took longer than you might think!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

The trucks are a huge interest area with the toddlers at the moment so I have been trying to find different ways to extend their interest and skills using them.

The corrugated plastic pipes proved popular to load their cargo into trays....

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Treasures in the quarry and vegetable patch to explore...

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Stones, sticks, more recycled treasures hidden on the path and 'boulders' all loaded into trucks and picked up with diggers....

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

And a little patch of dirt kept them busy all morning!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

There were roads made for cars inside with gems, squares of fake turf, sticks and tree blocks.

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Different ways of working and playing with wood...a step made an excellent 'workbench', gems and sticks were fun to post into cardboard cylinders and hammers held everything together!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

The passionfruit shop was very popular. Last week the kids helped me to pull the passionfruit vine off of the apple trees it was strangling. I brought down some of the pruned vine and weaved it onto a pallet leaning against the wall, added the cash register, a basket of fallen passionfruit and our outdoor scales then stood back to see what the children would do with it. 


I wasn't disappointed as the play evolved in so many different ways and they were so busy in the world of the passionfruit shop!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

There was weighing on the scales, a cauldron to add the passionfruit too, trucks to transport them in, baskets to fill at the shop and excavators to find and scoop the runaways!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I extended their interests by adding the tube placed on a chair so it was on a slant. We then began experimenting with what would roll down and what would get stuck. Why did the spoon get stuck but the passionfruit go through easily?

Lots of problem solving and experimenting with such a simple resource!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

To work those toddler fine motor skills I set up a tray with sand and added a few items randomly. I handed out spray bottles with water and edicol dye to make some bright colours and then encouraged them to point and spray at their target!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

This activity kept them busy for a long time and offered much scope for challenging their hand-eye and fine motor muscle skills.

We talked about trying to hit them from far away and then how it was easier to move closer to the target. They used the spray to knock over the little people, clean sand off the gems, paint wood blocks and plates and of course themselves!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

There was of course a fence to be spray painted too!


At the end of the week on my day off  I decided to rearrange the furniture in the main playrooms and rotate all the toys. I made some new spaces and blocked a few of the running areas that have been causing some concern!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

It's a little sad how much I enjoy rearranging furniture and playspaces...but I really do!

Play based learning ideas and inspiration for toddlers and preschoolers at home - Mummy Musings and Mayhem

The end of the week saw some much needed rain drop by....and my planned 20 loads of washing for the weekend had to be hung out downstairs. Ok I exaggerate, it was probably more like 15 loads. Shame I had all the daycare bedding and blankets to wash this week!!


But this is the vision that made the hard work of the whole week seem somehow worthwhile. Ruby showing such joy to be outside playing with Mummy and friends in her 'pretty playing dress'. 

And another week begins...


What fun did you get up to with the kids last week?


If this is your first visit to Mummy Musings and Mayhem and you like what you see you can follow us on Facebook and Pinterest for more inspiration, frugal fun, recipes and mayhem!



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Tuesday, 15 July 2014

Toddler Fine Motor Whisk and Sieve!


I love to offer simple activities to toddlers that are fun but also support their emerging interests and strengths.

Fine motor muscle strengthening and hand/eye coordination are skills that are important to focus on , especially for toddlers, but that doesn't mean that we as educators and parents need to provide detailed and expensive activities to target these skills...you can always do it through the magic of simple play based learning!

Here's one of the activities that is always very popular with the toddlers and is easily modified to make it a little harder for the preschoolers. Even Miss Teen has been known to have a play with this one but don't tell her I told you!


Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Here's what you need...



  • A few medium wash bowls/tubs or a large water play trough/tub
  • Different shaped and sized whisks
  • Dishwashing detergent or hand soap
  • Warm or cold water
  • Paint powder dyes or food colouring (optional)

Here's what you do.....


Half fill your tubs or trough with water, we used warm as it was a cool day and it added to the sensory experience.

Squirt in a little soap or dishwashing liquid

Hand the whisks out and first watch to see what they do. I like to ask a simple question like "How could we make bubbles in the water?" or "What can we do with the whisk?"


Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

There is usually a little experimenting but then bubbles start to appear as they stir faster and then begin whisking and they know what they need to do. It's great watching their eyes light up when they realise what they are achieving!

If you have a very young toddler you can model using the whisk or encourage them to splash and stir with their hands to begin making their bubbles. A little help from you to whisk a few first will keep their focus and interest in the activity.

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

When they have made some bubbles you can make it a little more interesting by sprinkling on some powder paint dye (I use edicol vegetable dye as it goes a long way and washes out easily!)

I ask the children to mix the colour in with their whisk or hands and watch as the water changes to a bright colour.

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Some of the toddlers enjoyed making patterns in their friends tub using the different colours. They were fascinated with the effects they made!

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

You shouldn't need to keep intervening in this activity, there is no wrong or right way, it's about the process and letting them experiment and problem solve to get the outcome they want. While they are having fun doing this they are of course working those hand and wrist muscles as well as practising their hand eye coordination.

You can talk about the colours they are making and how they could make other colours too.

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

I find a few separate tubs for a small group works well and really allows them to explore their own creativity and purpose. It is a good exercise in turn taking though if using a larger trough.

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem


Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

When there is a bit of foam and bubble from the whisking I like to introduce a few small sieves to the play as well. 

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

The sieve is good for trying to catch the bubbles and for transferring one foam colour to another colourful tub. They encourage scooping, twisting, spatial awareness and hand control and balance.

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Some will also just prefer to use their hands...and this is perfectly fine, it is a wonderful sensory activity especially when you have warm or cold water!


Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem



Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

Older children will enjoy trying to take prints of their bubble foam colours. They will need to first whisk up a good froth and then you can support them to lay a piece of white paper over the tub without immersing it. Give it a wiggle and this will take a "print" of their creativity to keep.




I always like to involve toddlers in the packing up/cleaning process as this is also an important skill to learn and one that they usually enjoy as they love to feel useful!

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

When we were nearly finished I gave them all some pieces of sponge I had cut into shapes from some packaging we received in a box.

We talked about the shapes and how to clean the paint colours from the table. They loved it and were so busy wiping down the tables and then finding the sponges in the bottom of their tubs after dropping them in there!

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

In reality they did of course make more mess than was originally there but look at that concentration and focus on getting the job done! When they went down for their rest I just came back and hosed the table and sponges and left everything in the sun to dry...easy!

Toddler Fine Motor fun with whisks and sieves - an easy activity to strengthen those fine motor muscles and control. Find out more on Mummy Musings and Mayhem

And although the prints look just like water colours they were awfully proud of them and they acted as a conversation prompt when parents picked them up and asked them questions about their day.

What does a child experience with this simple activity?


  • A sense of pride and self worth as they explore a new skill.
  • They are practising their pre writing skills
  • They are expressing themselves creatively
  • They are strengthening their fine motor muscles, control and coordination.
  • They are learning about cause and effect
  • They are using their thinking and reasoning skills to problem solve.
  • They are communicating and using descriptive language.
  • They are recognising and naming colours
  • They are exploring with their senses
  • They are happy and HAVING FUN in their own way...but they are learning!

How does your toddler like to play with water?



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