How to Start Small DayCare in a Small House

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Small House + Small Business Can = Successful DayCare Business!

Are you a stay-at-home mom thinking of starting a day care business? Think your house is too small? Think you’ll have even less space if you do day care?

Think again!

You can earn money without having tons of extra equipment in your home, and  have added adventures with your own kids, IF you think about day care for school age children!

Babies are cute as can be, but require cribs, high chairs, diapers, diaper changing stations, bottles, and a zillion other things. They need naps, lots of individualized attention and plenty of time. 

Of course, our older children need attention too, but if you have limited space, enjoy doing things and going places with children, and, perhaps, built-in companionship for your own children, think about “day care” limited to a few school age children.

Parents need a safe and loving place for their children before the school bus comes and after it drops them off. They need a place for their child on school holidays, half-days, snow days, teacher days and summer. 

You can offer all of that to a few children who will benefit from being in a home atmosphere with other children they either know already or will get to know.

Of course, check with your city or county to ensure that you are in compliance with any and all requirements to do any type of day care. 

Also check with your home insurance carrier about an inexpensive day care rider on your homeowner’s policy. If you plan to do any driving with the children, check in with your car insurance carrier as well, and (goes without saying) ALWAYS have the children buckle up.


Once all is in place, start looking for your first customer! Put the word out to friends, neighbors, your local school. Be specific about what you want to do: before and after school only? Will you do school holidays? Spring and winter vacation? Summer?

Decide upon your hours. How early can a child come? By what time must children be picked up? Will you charge extra if pick up is late? (You should!)

To figure your fee, check local newspapers, local bulletin boards, ask your friends and neighbors what they pay for such care, etc. Fees differ greatly by region.
NOTE WELL: Be as flexible as you want to be, but somehow incorporate payment even when the child does not come. That is the ONLY way to ensure some income you can count on, AND discourage parents from deciding at the last moment that they’ll pick up or drop off themselves. Be fair to them, but be fair to yourself!

Parents will appreciate most anything you do for and with their children that doesn’t involve TV. Young school age children love to be outside. Local playgrounds, whether at the school or in county parks are great places to take them for free-form play or to play group games.

Reach back in memory and teach them the games you used to play! Many of the games may be new to this age group and they’ll love them. “Swing the Statue”, “Red Light”, “Simon Says”, “The Wolf”, jump rope, hopscotch, are great fun.

When it’s rainy, consider the library. If you’re lucky, there may be an age appropriate activity. If not, on the way there, talk to the children about looking at books for a certain amount of time, reminding them of the need to be quiet and respectful of others using the library.
Simple crafts that can be finished in time to present to a parent at pick-up are also great for such days.

Homework: Most parents will appreciate your giving the children time, and even a little help with simple homework assignments. By ensuring some fun time and snacks first, you’ll probably find that the children like working together on their different assignments. Set a timer so they’ll know homework will only last for a short while.

Let’s talk snacks! It really is not expensive to offer ones that are healthy and appealing. If any children have special dietary needs, have the parents provide them.
HINT: At the onset, be kind but firm regarding food requests, and do have a “rule” that food and drinks be eaten at the table. You’ll quickly discover certain things that everybody likes – serve those. This is a super opportunity to help children learn to be

good guests rather than smaller versions of those adults we all know who require “special feeding” to be happy. I have fond memories of a charming young man who announced that his apples needed to be peeled and his bread crusts removed. I told him I couldn’t do that at my house…end of story and he ate every apple with peel and every piece of bread with crust that I ever offered him. No fuss – no argument…just “fact.”

If you live near a subway or bus, think about small adventures when you have the children with you for a whole day. Even if you end up only riding, or just take a little walk from the stop where you get off, they will love it. If you are near a park or city, bring bread crumbs for feeding to birds or ducks.
Plan a picnic (this can be just the lunch you’d be fixing anyhow, but packed up in picnic style). Kids are great as they love anything a little different, especially if YOU make it a big deal and fun!

Tips & Warnings

  • Help the children put things away, whether they be activity items, snack remains or school books, pens, etc. just before parents’ arrival time. Parents will appreciate being able to leave quickly and you’ll not be left with a big clean-up once everyone is gone.
  • In the summer, and during holiday weeks, be on the look-out for free community activities. Free movies, music or holiday-themed events aren’t difficult to find and offer something new and different to do with children.
  • If you live within walking distance of an elementary school, use this to your advantage.
  • As stated in introduction, be sure you are in compliance with any local or state ordinances for day care.
  • Check with your home owners and car insurance for inexpensive riders that will protect you.
  • When going out with your small group, always review the importance of staying together. Holding hands is essential!


How to Offer Day CareServices

Home-Based Business Day Care Provider

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