Staff Training and Development Plan for Child Care

As a center director, you are only as strong as your staff.

That’s why one of your top priorities should be identifying ways to put your team in a position to succeed.

Whether it’s making sure they understand your center’s policies and procedures or sharing best practices for interacting with students and their families, providing educators with the knowledge they need to perform their job at the highest level is your responsibility. As they say, the buck stops with you.

One of the best ways you can accomplish this is by offering training and professional development at your center. Prioritizing your staff’s development will help them gain the skills they need to thrive professionally and ultimately help their little learners excel throughout their educational journey.

At the end of the day, when you set your employees up for success, you’ll have a much more involved, motivated and loyal staff, which means you can run your program smoothly day in, day out.

With that in mind, here are seven areas you should consider when creating a five-star staff training and development plan.

Safety training

As you prepare to train and educate your staff, you should have objectives in place. These should include specific topics that address what employees should know when working at your center. The most important one is safety.

Promoting each kiddo’s well-being not only avoids putting them at risk, but it also gives families peace of mind that they’re in a secure environment. After all, when parents are choosing a childcare provider, one of the main considerations is safety.

First, your staff training and development plan should require all educators to have certifications in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and first aid within their first 90 days of employment at your center. Even after they have worked at your center for a long time, you should always make sure their certifications are up-to-date.

Once they are certification-ready, your child care staff training should highlight how to handle urgent situations that may occur and need special attention. For instance, if a student experiences an injury on the playground, your staff should check on the child, look for any serious bodily harm and inform the parents. The same rule applies when dealing with student health. If a student informs a teacher they aren’t feeling well, the educator should let other staff and the child’s family know immediately. If someone in your classroom has a serious illness, the teacher should inform families so they can determine if their child has been exposed and take appropriate actions.

Another area of safety training you should incorporate is an evacuation plan in the event of a fire, natural disaster or any other life-threatening situation.

Staff need to understand their role and be prepared to help students in the event of an emergency. That’s why, as part of your training, all staff should receive an evacuation plan and familiarize themselves with it.

One of the most important elements of this plan is how staff and students evacuate a building safely. It’s also good to note that since you’re dealing with young children, it might be helpful to hold monthly drills for practice.

When all the adults who care for children at your center receive training on key health and safety topics, everyone will sleep much more soundly at night.

Disciplinary actions

Another skill educators should possess is knowing how and when to discipline students. It’s one of the most challenging parts about working with children because sometimes it’s difficult to determine how much discipline is needed. It’s normal for children to misbehave by arguing, fighting, biting or yelling, and child care staff training will help your staff be able to properly evaluate and handle those situations.

You should establish a disciplinary policy as part of your staff training and development plan and communicate it to educators. The policy should include how to handle issues that may arise and classroom management techniques. Most require putting a stop to the action and looking for positive intent, then helping the child understand why their actions were wrong. It’s important to honor that intent and impulse behind the behavior since most kids act out to get an adult’s attention. Teaching employees how to avoid or de-escalate problems will empower them to make good decisions.

It’s also important to be open to their suggestions for handling conflicts because your staff may offer helpful solutions. For example, if Billy misbehaves and the policy doesn’t seem to remedy the situation, his teacher may provide some perspective as to what might work best since he/she is around him most.

One of the most crucial lessons in early childhood education is understanding social rules and the impact of one’s actions. By teaching your staff best practices around discipline (and being open to new ones), they will have the tools to succeed when it comes to addressing behavioral issues with their students.

Lesson planning

Lesson planning is an important tool and integral to the success of both your staff and students at your center. That’s why you should equip your teachers with best practices for organizing and planning developmentally appropriate lessons and activities. Additionally, your employees should not only recognize what’s best to incorporate into their lessons, but why they should include those topics. Staff should always be able to gauge what their students are ready to learn and how to challenge them. As a director, you should cover developmental milestones, what’s typically expected of toddlers and limitations based on different age ranges. Develop a curriculum guide at your center so your staff can learn to use it effectively while thinking of other activities that can be incorporated into the classroom.

Additionally, you should encourage your staff to be creative and come up with engaging activities their kiddos will enjoy. As educators get to know their students, developing lesson plans around particular interests and popular topics is important. Including games and toys are helpful too so they can learn and have fun in the process.

We also recommend educating your staff on how to communicate student progress, including milestones, with families so they are aware of their child’s strengths and areas for improvement. Not only will parents be able to practice those lessons at home, but they can also observe if their little learner has improved over time. That’s why this is an important area to address during staff development in education.

Provide center-wide policies

Another part of your staff training and development plan should be to share standard policies so everyone is aware of how to handle common situations at your center. Some major procedures all employees should address include who students are authorized to be released to, when to contact families, how to clean up bodily fluids, documenting injuries and lock-down instructions in case there’s an intruder in the center.

Children are required to be with an adult at all times during the day, and one should escort them when they first arrive at your center, as they change classrooms, and when they leave your center. To ensure safety, let your staff know where they can access each student’s approved lists for pick-up as well as emergency contact information. It should also be a center-wide policy to ask for each adult’s ID until staff is familiar with them. Make it known parents should give advance notice in the event an adult will be getting their child who is not on the authorized list. If a child is picked up late, ensure there is a procedure so your staff knows how to address it with parents.

Additionally, we recommend walking your staff through the process of dealing with injuries and accidents at your center; where to locate cleaning supplies and documentation paperwork; and what to do in the event an intruder enters the building.

Changes happen frequently, and ensuring your employees are informed is key. If policies are updated, hold a training session to alert staff and explain how the guidelines have changed. That way, your team will always be up-to-date on the latest policies and procedures.

Create a mentorship program

Your employees look to you for guidance so it’s key to create opportunities for staff development in education.

Take your leadership to the next level and provide a mentorship program for those who are interested. Each member of your staff has different career goals, which is why you should make an effort to talk to each of them about how they plan to achieve those goals. Schedule one-on-one meetings with your staff to go over their professional development objectives and where they stand on required training hours. You should also share resources that will help  them meet their professional development goals (including online classes from our sister company, ChildCare Education Institute) and always see how you can best support them. You should also provide a road map so they know which path to take to advance their careers. As a director, part of your job is showing them how they can progress as a professional.

We also recommend providing a safe space to express any concerns they have. Actively listening to your staff is a great way to create trusting relationships and guide them on their career journey.

Establish learning teams

Another way to accomplish staff development in education is by encouraging teachers to exchange thoughts and ideas with their peers.

A great way to do this is by establishing learning teams. A learning team is a group that collaborates and shares best practices with each other to improve teaching methods and ultimately boost student success. As you decide who should be on each team, plan for a mix of experienced educators and those with less experience. Have each team meet during the school day two or three times a week. Each one will use classroom observations to understand why students might be struggling and find instructional gaps so they can work together to close those gaps. This way, educators can collaborate to accomplish objectives and take collective responsibility for the success of students. They are also able to dig deeper, analyze and discuss what their fellow teachers are learning. Then, they can apply that knowledge in their classrooms.

Stay informed on industry trends

Another way to promote staff development in education is by being in-the-know about the latest industry trends, techniques and research in child care. That’s why you should regularly share best practices with your staff.

For example, literacy is an essential part of early education. Research around literacy is constantly changing and you want to make sure your staff is up-to-date on the latest research so they can incorporate those practices into their teaching.

Additionally, provide resources where they can access information about new developments in child care. We recommend outlets like Education Week and NIEER for the latest industry news. You can also suggest they sign-up for webinars that highlight important subject matters in the field. There are a variety of child care organizations that host regular webinars and share reliable information such as the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) and National Child Care Association (NCCA). This can help teachers better support struggling students and keep them on track throughout the year. As a result, your staff will be positioned as a trusted resource for families in your program.

Providing an effective staff training and development plan can be tough, but it’s much less time consuming with a child care management software helping you along the way.

At LifeCubby, we understand your staff is at the core of what keeps your business running, and when your teachers succeed, so will your students.

Whether it’s live messaging parents, tracking behavior with digital daily sheets or checking approved contacts for pick-up at the end of the day, we’re here to help you support a team of educators families can rely on.

Want to learn more about how LifeCubby can help your staff become successful child care professionals? Click here to schedule a free demo and learn more today!