Daycare leadership isn’t just about having fun and playing games. It’s also not about endless paperwork and team meetings that end up as pity parties.
What daycare leadership is really about is everything.
You, as the leader and owner of your daycare center, have to wear a lot of hats at the same time. And while that is a good thing, since it means that you can lead by example and create the kind of daycare you want to work in, it’s not always easy. That’s why we’ve created this list of tips and tricks.
From knowing when to multitask and when to delegate, to communication and growth mindset, let’s take a look at what makes daycare leadership effective.
Forget about knowing everything
Being a leader isn’t easy, and daycare leadership can’t be compared with anything else.
The basics are the same: you have staff, you have paperwork, and you have customers to keep happy. The rest is where you have to keep an eye out for your daycare’s specifics. Create a culture and a set of guidelines that will work for you.
This means a lot of trial and error, and that’s good. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes – just make sure you learn from them. You also don’t have to know everything all the time. You have a good team you can trust, which is what daycare leadership is all about.
While hierarchy is good when setting the rules, make sure you’re openly communicating with your staff, especially if you don’t have their caregiving experience. If you are not sure about something, start a discussion and hear everyone’s two cents.
What makes you a leader in that particular situation is that you will be getting a lot of information, but only you have the power to make changes depending on the arguments you hear.
For example, if you want to earn extra revenue with Hopping In by allowing customers to book part-time or drop-in slots, you should make your staff aware of it. They will certainly have questions, which you can respond to. Vice versa, even though you know all the possibilities you can make use of if you get Hopping In, your staff is probably going to come up with even more.
Know when to multitask (and when to delegate)
We’re all very proud of our ability to multitask, and no one is prouder of it than daycare owners.
At 9.05 am you’re dealing with paperwork and the mysterious vanishing of recently ordered supplies. At 10 am you’re already on the phone with parents and replying to emails, while simultaneously dealing with staff gossip, as well. Then, at 5 pm, the only multitasking you’re capable of is multitasking your way to bed.
It’s exhausting, but burning out isn’t the right way to effective daycare leadership. In times of crisis you’ll have to do everything and not let it show in daily operations. But when you have a capable team, you should delegate.
This doesn’t mean you are a bad or inefficient leader. Like we said, good daycare leadership means knowing your limits and recognizing people who are better at something than you.
This frees up your schedule for things only you can take care of, and ensures that everything else is going well.
For example, you don’t have to get in the middle of every misunderstanding between teachers and parents. Instead, allow them to resolve the situation on their own. You should provide guidance and safe space (as well as time) for resolution.
Long-term, this is a much better solution, as it will improve communication between the parent and the teacher at hand. Owner intervention only helps in difficult cases. Otherwise, it can create dissatisfaction on both ends.
When it comes to workload, you might need to get an assistant. It’s hard to drop responsibility, especially if you are intricately involved into every bit of your daycare’s operations, but it’s a smart move. Budget is always tight, so explore various options for earning extra revenue.
For example, Hopping In lets you easily sell your daycare’s vacant spots, helping you earn the extra funds you need.
Know the best way to grow
Improving and growing is a natural part of any daycare’s leadership style.
However, your path may not look like the neighboring daycare’s path. When it comes to changes, take a good look at yourself and your team. Know your shared strengths and weaknesses.
For example, some daycare employees are incredible at keeping everyone happy, but they are resistant to change. On the other hand, there are staff who always need the extra push and additional motivation.
In the first case, communication is the way to go. Make sure everyone understands why changes are taking place, and what the end goal is. Resolve their questions and worries, and create a strategy together.
In the second case, it’s good to concretize the rewards they will get for adapting to new practices. These can be bonuses or celebrating successes (which we always recommend), making every staff member aware of their own contribution to the daycare’s success.
While every owner shoulders the brunt of daycare leadership, know that you are not alone.
If you are not satisfied with your current team, change it. Nothing matters as much as knowing that you have people you can rely on. This helps you become a better leader by not being afraid of making mistakes or asking questions, as well as giving answers not everyone is going to like.
With any kind of business, know what and who you are working with. And with daycare leadership, know your daycare and become the leader it needs.
Author: Hopping In Blog
Sholom Strick is an expert on the business of running daycare centers and founder of Hopping In, a tool that helps childcare centers and family daycare providers fill unused spots.
To contact him or for media inquiries email firstname.lastname@example.org