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Starting a Bilingual Early Childhood Education Program? Here are Some Tips to Keep in Mind
As with other school venture ideas, the process of opening a bilingual early childhood education program is both exhilarating and scary. Not only is it challenging to create an ideal program for young children, but it’s also hard to factor in the funding and requisite resources for your preschool. However, establishing a bilingual program is possible with the right set of questions and answers. Here are some of the most important aspects to consider when launching a bilingual early learning program.
The Legal Requirements
All 50 states in the United States have different rules regarding the opening of preschool and childcare programs.. Research the child care licensing laws in your state and what you need to obtain a license. Besides complying with the law, licenses also help you gain parents’ confidence once you launch. All parents want the best for their children, and acquiring a license ensures that you legitimize your business and work within set health and safety standards.
The licensing process confirms your credentials, location, finances, safety standards, criminal clearance, and nutrition standards. As you explore your state’s licensing requirements, you’ll discover capacity requirements, age limitations, child to staff ratio, immunization, hygienic practices, first aid, and staff training requirements. Child Care Aware® of America has ample resources to get you started before exploring state requirements.
Ideally, the space you choose should be accessible to the parents and children, safe, and include proper lighting, ventilation, and fire safety requirements. The location should also be enough to accommodate children and teachers, without cramping, and offer facilities such as offices and toilets.
If you are going to be renting an external space rather than running an at-home preschool or something like a forest school, there are additional considerations to bear in mind. Consider the expense of your location and any potential challenges when it comes to maintenance, rent, or fees.
Writing a Business Plan
Launching a bilingual preschool is a business, much like any other venture. It requires a strategic plan to define your goals, especially if you plan to seek funding from partners and institutions. In your business plan, you need to answer questions such as:
- What service are you offering? This could include a description of the languages you plan to teach.
- Is there an existing market for your services? Are there families that need your services?
- Is your location convenient for parents in your area?
- Who is your competition, and how are you different from them?
- What is your budget, standard tuition fees, cash flow, expenditure, and break-even point?
- Who is funding your preschool? Are you launching out-of-pocket, acquiring partners, looking for investors, or applying for a loan?
- What is your business entity?
- What are the insurance requirements?
- What are the licensing requirements?
- What is your marketing plan?
Choosing a Business Entity
It’s essential to define the type of business entity you will operate your preschool as. The business entity you choose affects licensing and registration requirements and taxes. There are several business entities, such as sole proprietorships, corporations, and limited liability corporations (LLC).
Sole proprietorships may not work to your advantage because it means that you bear all the liability for operating your business. However, having a strong general liability insurance policy can help mitigate these risks. On the other hand, an LLC separates you from your company, but it might not be necessary if you run a home preschool. Research several options and consult with an accountant or insurance broker to find what works for you.
The Bilingual Early Childhood Education Program
Your preschool program is the cornerstone of all future work you choose to do. You can select from popular programs such as play-based learning, Montessori, Reggio, Waldorf, and language-based programs. It’s also essential to determine if your bilingual school program is truly bilingual, or if it’s full immersion, partial immersion, or full immersion.
Your choice of program influences your teaching materials, schedules, and instructors. It’s probably best to match the program with the market needs and match your marketing campaign to educate parents on your program’s benefits.
Your teachers need to meet several training requirements, safety and health standards for child care providers, and work experience. When selecting the staff, language requirements are crucial because they affect your education quality. Do you want native or non-native speakers for the second language? If they’re non-native speakers, what is their proficiency level?
You also need to verify every teachers’ credentials and licenses for operations in your state. What are the minimum training requirements for instructors for bilingual early childhood education programs in preschools? If they have trained in different states or countries, research how their qualifications match your state’s education requirements. Remember that your staff also need to pass criminal background checks.
However, professional qualifications aren’t the only things you need to check for. It’s also important to keep attitude and experience in mind when hiring teachers to avoid conflict or poor conflict resolution in your institution. If you’re hiring instructors with different cultural backgrounds, which is highly likely, you’ll need to look into cultural tolerance as well.
Besides the instructors, you may also need to hire assistant staff, depending on the scale of your operations. An administrative assistant, accountant, human resource manager, cook, cleaner, caregiver, and driver, whether working full-time or part-time, may be relevant depending on your program and the various services you may offer.
Policies & Daily Operations
To keep your preschool’s operations efficient, you need to define the guiding principles and operation rules. Your handbook should stipulate regulations for:
- Operating hours
- Minimum and maximum age requirements
- Holidays, days off, and sick leaves
- Meals and snacks
- Field trips
- Pick-ups and drop-offs
- Emergency procedures
Insurance protects you, your staff, your property, and clients should an incident occur. The type of insurance policies you need depends on the kind of preschool you open. Insurance is necessary to cover both your intellectual and physical property against theft and damage, children and staff against personal injury, and you and your staff against professional liability.
With Wonderschool, you can access critical resources to help you open your bilingual early childhood education program. Join us today for professional support.