What does Professional Development for Providers look like? Is that something you think about? Do you think it is important for the growth of your business?
Well, whether you do or not today I want to give you some reasons why you might consider investing some time in professional development and how your business might benefit if you do. Oh, and to encourage you, I’ve got a FREE DOWNLOAD just for you – so keep reading.
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Professional Development for Child Care Providers
Why Professional Development?
I know you are probably thinking “I put in enough hours in this business. I can’t do more.”
Believe me, I get it!
That sentiment is completely understandable. No one knows more than another provider just how many hours we devote to our businesses, both with the children as well as during off-hours. It is a lot! Probably more than we ever thought we would and certainly more than people in other professions.
However, because it is our profession we have to realize that over time we should find ways to hone our skills and keep our knowledge fresh. We need to get better either with our business practices or the way that we manage the duties of our businesses.
The Benefits of Professional Development for Providers
One of the best ways to do this is through continued learning opportunities or professional development.
The field of Child Development is constantly changing and evolving. New theories are put forth while old practices are phased out. How can a provider ever expect to keep up?
There are a lot of ways you can benefit from some sort of professional development. Some might be obvious, while others not so obvious.
Becoming an Expert
Dr. Anders Ericsson said that after 10,000 hours someone might consider themselves an expert in a field. Ericsson says that it takes 10,000 hours (20 hours for 50 weeks a year for ten years = 10,000) of deliberate practice to become an expert in almost anything.
Although this theory has in part been debunked, it is interesting to note that a childcare provider would put in that same 10,000 hours in just under four years.
By the way, that’s if they are lucky enough to be working only 50 hours a week. Many providers, myself included, put in significantly more time than that. So in a short time, we could be considered experts in our profession.
That being said, most of that time is spent somewhat isolated at our business, without the input or knowledge of other colleagues.
When I worked in the corporate world, like it or lump it, just about everyone I encountered during my workday was working toward a singular goal. We all worked for the same company and even if our roles differed, we all played a part in accomplishing the overall goal of the company itself.
As providers, many of us are solo entrepreneurs working out of our homes with very low regular interaction with other adults let alone colleagues. Unless we reach out in some way to engage with other professionals in our field, we can be very isolated for long stretches of time.
When I mention professional development, you might be thinking that I am just talking about taking a college course but there are actually several ways you can obtain professional development; workshops, conferences, associations, subscriptions, college courses, books, even social media groups. So let’s see if we can find one that might interest you.
Options in Professional Development for Childcare Providers
Many universities and community colleges offer child development courses or units either at a physical location or online. Online or location-specific, most courses are offered at times that would be very convenient for many childcare providers.
These courses provide the basis and theory of the practice of child development. Although most colleges have counseling and professional career guidance, most are not necessarily geared toward learning how to run a childcare.
Although I have formal education in child development and loved the experience, there are many other ways you can obtain much of the same knowledge through less conventional paths. I just wanted to get the college thing out of the way.
Workshops and Conferences
One way to commune with like minds is to attend a workshop or conference related to our profession.
I actually love attending workshops. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes when I am thinking about attending an upcoming workshop, I sign and tend to moan about the evening or weekend time I am sacrificing. But once I get there I learn so much and have such great conversations with other providers that I am often one of the last ones to leave.
Workshops and conferences are great places to find out how other providers handle the same challenges that you face. For the most part, they do the same job as you and are very willing to share their knowledge as well as what they struggle with.
There are opportunities to network, find out new practices in the field of Child Development, get new resources and even just vent.
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Often times, your local CCR will host workshops that are either free or very low cost. Attending a workshop or conference or special event even once a year can be very beneficial to the home-based provider.
Are you a member or have you ever thought of becoming a member of an association? Just like any other profession, there are several associations specific to the field of child development.
Joining an association can not only provide you with current news and practices in the field of child development, but it can also have monitory benefits as well. My childcare insurance offers a discount if I am a member of a professional association related to childcare.
There could also be opportunities to advertise your business or develop collaborations that could lead to other opportunities for your business.
Consider joining at least one professional association in the field of child development.
Here are just a few:
- National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) www.naeyc.org
- National Child Care Association www.nccanet.org
- Association for Early Learning Leaders www.earlylearningleaders.org
- T.E.A.C.H. Early Childhood National Center www.teachecnationalcenter.org
- Zero to Three www.zerotothree.org
Books, Subscriptions & Websites
One of the first things I did when I was considering opening a childcare was to purchase a book on “How to Start a Child Care”. Even though I will admit I did not read it from cover to cover, I got some very good advice from that book even before I started my business.
Through the author, I was able to benefit from an expert with many years of experience under her belt. It was like picking someone’s brain and getting a head start with things I didn’t even realize about running a childcare.
I pulled my first contract, handbook, flyers, etc. from templates in that book. I have to say I still refer to that book and I have even repurchased the newer editions over the years. It’s sort of like my users manual for the childcare business.
Like books, subscriptions to child development magazines or periodicals can be great forms of professional development for the childcare provider.
Here are a few you might want to check out:
- Parenting www.parenting.com/child/child-development
- Early Childhood Matters Magazine earlychildhoodmagazine.org
- Psychology Today www.psychologytoday.com/topics/child-development
- Parents www.parents.com
Notice that I have provided the links to each of these magazines to their corresponding websites. So even if you don’t want to go the expense of a long-term subscription or you want to try before you buy, you can find much of the content online as well.
Social media, Forum groups & Blogs
I can’t leave out one of the most prominent things in our lives nowadays; social media. One in particular that can be very informative, as well as interactive, is Facebook groups.
Confession time again – I have to admit that initially I actively avoided getting on any social media, especially Facebook. I just wasn’t interested in getting sucked into what I thought would ultimately devour what little free time I had.
Well, I have since changed my mind. Now I think I am a member of no less than 23 childcare based Facebook groups and have even started one myself.
How’s that for an about-face?
These groups are another way to reach out and touch another provider or childcare professional when you want to share, get advice or need ideas for your business.
Actually, I am including Forum groups with this as well. This is another new thing for me, but I love it!
Just about every (weekday) morning, I jump on at least one forum group to see what other providers are talking about. Sometimes I am able to share how I accomplish something someone might be struggling with. Other times I get new ideas or perspectives that I haven’t even considered.
Either way, it is a great exchange of information among colleagues that you probably would never meet but on the forum group. You can find forum groups that are small or large, topic-specific or broad. Here are a few I am fairly active on:
The last form of professional development is one that I’m passionate about! It is one you happen to be involved in right now. Reading a childcare blog!
Just like the associations, books, and websites, blogs are a form of professional development that is most likely written from the perspective of the professional themselves.
Much like magazines and books, you can search for topics you are interested in learning more about or read about the journeys that others have taken. However, unlike publications, blogs allow you to engage with the author and ask questions or offer your own insight.
Have you ever thought about whether you need some Professional Development? Any of these appeal to you? Leave me a comment below, I would love to hear what you think.