by Katie Brazerol
Preschool education requirements are not the same for every state. While some states have specific guidelines, many states do not set mandatory guidelines for preschool education. A frequent question asked among child care providers and stay-at-home parents is: “Should I use a preschool curriculum?”
When I first opened my child care, I had only three children and they were all under the age of 2. (At this time the early learning guidelines in North Dakota are voluntary for child care providers.) As the children became more comfortable in my setting, I noticed frequent boredom and tension among them. After several months, it became apparent that we all needed some structure in our day. I ordered a kit from FunShine Express® to see if the activities would help break up our day. What a dramatic difference! Within a week, I noticed that the children stayed engaged, I felt like we were all enjoying new topics, and as a perk for me—time seemed to go by much more quickly!
One thing that became immediately evident to me as a provider was how much work the curriculum saved me. Although I have a degree in child development, it was time-consuming to find new and fresh alphabet, color, number, and general activities each month. With FunShine, I was able to go right to the guide for easy-to-complete activities. Having predesigned cutouts on brightly colored displays made the walls of my setting look more professional and appealing. I also began to see the benefits of having a theme. The kids responded well to the songs, and it allowed me to introduce many unfamiliar materials and new vocabulary words.
I think one of my favorite things about using a curriculum was the positive reaction I received from parents. Their kids were discussing theme-related topics at the dinner table, and my walls were soon filled with fun theme-related pictures for them to observe. Occasionally I would even have a parent approach me with an item related to our current theme, asking if I would like to borrow it. This reminded me how beneficial it is to include families in themes, especially those involving job-related or cultural topics.
While curriculum costs did stretch my budget, I noticed that the families in my setting really began spreading the word of how much they enjoyed my preschool, so I often had a waiting list. Most families were willing to pay a bit more for child care that included preschool education as well. If a family had questions about the curriculum or the company, I was always able to refer them to funshineexpress.com. Monthly newsletters kept them up to date and helped them learn some of the songs their children were singing. Overall, I considered the curriculum to be one of the greatest enhancements to my child care.
FunShine Express offers a Buttercups curriculum for children birth to three and a Fireflies curriculum for children ages three to five. If you do not have a curriculum or you would like more information about FunShine Express, call 1(800)340-8103 to speak to a customer service representative or browse online at funshineexpress.com.