You may be breathing a sigh of relief that the holidays have come and gone. However, now is a great time to evaluate your holiday hours and announce any changes you’d like to make.
Sending out an annual calendar with days you planned to be closed helps parents know what to expect from your center and plan for days off work if needed.
Setting your childcare center’s holiday hours
Your childcare center may have a more relaxed schedule over the last few months of the year with less structured learning sessions as children are out for travel for the holidays. Be sure that your preschool is flexible in what you’re teaching so that children who miss a week will not be behind or miss out on important lessons.
As you look to set your holiday hours, here are some considerations to keep in mind.
Thanksgiving: Most working professionals get Thanksgiving Day off of work, so you’ll likely get no pushback from customers about being closed Thanksgiving Day. However, the Friday after Thanksgiving is a day some employees get off while others do not. An option for the Friday after Thanksgiving is to give teachers the option to work and open with limited spots available for children to attend your childcare that day based off of how many teachers are willing to work.
Christmas: Not all of your staff or all of your clients will necessarily celebrate Christmas, but many employers provide Christmas Day as a day off work. You may also consider closing Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas depending on what day of the week holiday falls on. For your staff, you can consider providing a flexible day off for those who celebrate another religious holiday instead of Christmas and enable them to work Christmas Eve or the day after Christmas to be open with limited hours.
New Year’s: New Year’s Day is a holiday recognized by most companies, meaning your clients will likely have the day off. It is rare for employers to provide New Year’s Eve off, so if you plan to close for that day, be sure to communicate it early and provide reminders so parents have time to make plans for alternate childcare, if necessary.
Communicating your childcare center’s holiday hours
From the time you decide how to handle the holidays, begin communicating those days off to parents. This will give them the most time to plan and make them less likely to be upset with your policy.
Here are some ways to communicate your holiday hours early and often.
Email newsletters: Be sure to include your holiday hours in your email newsletter in the months and weeks leading up to the holidays.
Add to your online calendar: Using your iCare Software calendar, add the holidays your childcare center is closed so that parents see these events regularly.
Signs in your childcare: Post signs within your childcare center in prominent places reminding parents of the days your center is closed for the holidays.
Text message reminders: Use iCare Ding to send text message reminders a couple weeks before the holidays to remind parents of your holiday hours or closures.
Working with staff for time off requests
With a limited staff and a commitment to a certain teacher-student ratio, you should have a policy for how your staff requests time off during the holidays. Having multiple teachers out right around the holidays can be detrimental to your childcare center.
Require teachers to request time off during November and December early so that you have plenty of notice. Have a policy for how many teachers can be off on the same day and a policy for how you approve such time off in the case of multiple teachers requesting the same day.
Manage attendance tracking within your childcare management software to ensure you’ll have the coverage you need. If you know a student will be out for an extended period during the holidays, you can mark that within the system so that you know what attendance will look like each week to ensure proper coverage for your student-teacher ratio.