To start your own preschool, you'll first need to check your state's licensing requirements.
Maybe you’ve been babysitting a houseful of preschoolers. Maybe you are a stay-at-home mom who watches your own kids all day, or maybe you’re the caretaker for your nieces and nephews. Whatever your position, you love spending time with preschool-age munchkins. You plan crafts for them, prepare snacks, take them to the park, and enjoy teaching them their ABCs and 123s. Perhaps you love it so much that you’re considering starting your own preschool, but aren’t quite sure where to start. Whether you’d like to create a preschool in your home or want to find space elsewhere, you can achieve your goals.
1Check your state’s standards. Before you run out to buy truckloads of glue sticks and tot-sized furniture, you’ll need to review your state’s licensing requirements, which includes supervisor and employee minimum qualifications, staff-to-child ratios, insurance requirements, and the number of children allowed -- and whether your own children count toward that number. Moreover, some students require owners or supervisors to have at least a bachelor’s degree; other states only require credit hours, not a full degree. You can learn more about your individual state’s requirements by visiting daycare.com.
2Write a business plan. Once you’re sure you’ve met or can meet all of your state’s minimum licensing requirements, you’ll need to create a business plan. A formal business plan is essential to the center’s daily operations, and will be helpful if you need to take out a loan to fund your center. For starters, you’ll want the plan to address how many children you’ll be caring for; how many hours you plan to be open; what you plan to charge parents, including late pickups; what your policies will be for sick children; what supplies you’ll need; and how you expect to be paid. If you need help writing a business plan, there are resources on SBA.gov, the website for the U.S. Small Business Administration.
3Find space and decorate. Chances are, if you’re planning on starting a home-based preschool, you already have an idea of how much space you’ll have available. What you need to decide, then, is what areas will be off-limits to the energetic munchkins under your care. Also, think about potty breaks and snacks -- will a bathroom be readily available? Will they be eating within the confines of the center or getting crumbs all over your kitchen floor? Likewise, if you plan on opening the center elsewhere, you’ll need to work with a real estate agent to find a space that is conducive to your planned curriculum. Once you find a suitable space, you’ll then need to furnish it with pint-sized tables, chairs and activity centers, buy supplies and toys, and, of course, adorn it with bright, kid-friendly decorations.
4Advertise and promote. You’ve got the room set up, activities planned, and policies in place; now you just need the kids. You may luck out and find your potential charges through word of mouth; otherwise, you’ll need to advertise. Consider designing and distributing flyers in your neighborhood or posting them in grocery stores, and buying ad space in your local newspaper. You’ll also want to create a professional website, and even create a social media page to promote special events and activities at your center.
- Before you open your center, play detective and check out your competition. Find out what their rates and policies are, and set your guidelines accordingly. If you're too expensive (or even too cheap), you may turn away potential customers.
Things You'll Need
- Business plan
- Real estate (home or elsewhere)
- Craft supplies