Children’s ministry can be a rewarding endeavor, but giving back to the members of your church and your community doesn’t have to end when you wrap up Sunday school for the week. Aside from youth groups and church events, one way to help the families within your church and your community is to offer preschool services in your church.
But opening a preschool isn’t as easy as simply spreading the word and having people show up. A lot of planning goes into the process of ensuring that you’re providing a safe, inviting place for children and giving their parents peace of mind that they’re being cared for by capable hands.
Here are a few important steps you should take before opening a preschool within your church.
1. Put safety first.
- Ensure that every single person who will be in charge of the children within your preschool for any amount of time has a current first aid and CPR certification. Not only will the parents feel better about leaving their children in your care, but you and your staff will be prepared for any incidents thrown your way.
- Draft your security and safety plan ahead of time. Parents will want to know up front how you plan to keep their children safe. From updated smoke detectors to safety gates to a closely monitored check-in system, make sure you cover all of your bases ahead of time and are prepared to answer any questions or concerns that come your way.
2. Plan with your church in mind.
- If you’re going to open the preschool on church property, it’s likely that you’ll be using a shared space. Communicate with church staff to ensure that your preschool hours will not conflict with other obligations and that your shared space can maintain its safety when it’s not being used by you.
- Does your church have the financial resources in place to open a daycare or preschool? Or will you be paying your staff, providing materials and toys, and covering any other necessary costs another way? While some church-run preschools and daycares rely on volunteers, there will be members of your staff who will likely need to be paid a fair salary.
- Decide who will work in the facility, and include them in the planning. Your staff should mostly consist of members of your church or a sister church, with each providing a Statement of Faith upon hiring.
- Ensure that you’re providing your preschoolers with a faith-based curriculum that aligns with your church’s beliefs that is also age-appropriate. While your older children might be interested in the Jesus Storybook Bible, others might react better to colorful storybooks and simpler activities.
3. Start out small.
- It’s often easier to open a facility to just a few families at a time. Then you can take on more as you develop a routine and smooth out any speedbumps that might have appeared when you first opened your preschool. This will also give you time to reach out to more families within your church and assess the needs of your community as a whole.
- Starting with one age group and adding more as you grow as a facility and staff can help ensure that you’ve got the necessary materials and activities for every age group’s needs and interests, as well as the staff who know how to care for a variety of children from different backgrounds.
- If you go too big too soon and your preschool doesn’t take off the way you had hoped, you or your church leadership might be left to pay for unused resources and materials or may have to lay off staff before they’ve even really started.
There is a lot that goes into planning a preschool or childcare facility of any kind, but with the right preparation and a heart open to change, all of those trials and errors will seem like nothing when compared to the satisfaction that comes with providing a safe, faith-based learning environment for the children of your church and your community.