There are so many great reasons to start a preschool in your home. If you’ve been considering opening your own preschool business, you may be excited about the opportunity to do what you love while also spending time with the people you love.
But even if you have many years of teaching experience, opening your own business can be overwhelming. There’s a lot to it in terms of the ‘business side’ of things that many people don’t have experience with when they first start out.
So how can you start a preschool in your home? Here are 10 steps with everything you need to know:
1. Obtain a family child care license from your state
The first thing you’ll want to do is look into the family child care licensing laws and procedures for your state. Each state is different and uses slightly different terminology. Generally, you’ll have to meet certain requirements in terms of age, education and teaching experience, background checks, home safety, and capacity, amongst other things.
2. Decide on a business entity and apply for a business license if required in your state
To start a preschool in your home, you will need to decide what type of business entity you will operate as. This will determine how your business is treated legally in terms of liability and taxes. For example, will you be a Sole Proprietor, LLC, or Corporation? If you’re not sure, you can start by checking out our post, Sole Proprietorship or an LLC? How to choose what type of business entity to form for your family child care.
Some states may require you to get a business license to operate. You will want to research the laws for your state and look into the process for getting a business license if you need one.
3. Create a business plan
Now you’ll need to create a business plan for your home preschool. A business plan is a written document setting business goals and the strategies you plan to use to reach them. For example, you’ll want to answer the following questions within your business plan, amongst others:
- Who is your target market and what is the competition like?
- What is the financial forecast for your business?
- Who will be a part of your team?
- How much will you charge for tuition fees?
- What are your expenses, including salaries, materials, licensing fees, and rent or mortgage?
Here’s a sample preschool business plan you can use as a guide. Note that this one is for a center-based program so will differ slightly from your home-based one.
Don’t worry – you don’t need to write something super long or detailed. The business plan is for your own reference. However, the more detailed and thought-out your plan is, the more useful it will be for you in starting your preschool business.
4. Choose a philosophy and curriculum
You may already have an idea of the type of early care and education philosophy you want to use in your preschool. The following are some common types we see:
Some directors choose to combine different philosophies or aspects from a few together to create a unique program. Deciding on the philosophy and curriculum of your preschool will help you with the next few steps of designing the learning environment and writing up the handbook.
5. Design your learning environment
Now it’s time to imagine what your learning environment will look like. You’ll need to transform your living space into an enriching learning space. While the details of your learning space will reflect the philosophy and curriculum of your program, there are four ‘interest areas’ you should include no matter what philosophy you choose.
Check out our tips on how to turn any space into a home-based preschool with before and after pictures from real directors’ homes.
While this part of the planning process is exciting for many, it can cause anxiety over budget if you need a lot of new materials or renovations. If you don’t have a big budget, there are many ways to keep your in-home preschool startup costs low, such as buying toys secondhand.
6. Write policies and procedures for a handbook
You’ll need to decide on some basic operating policies and procedures for your school before you open. You can write it all up and use it as a parent handbook. Here are some ideas of what to include in the handbook:
- Hours of operation
- Holidays and days off
- Meals and snacks
- Payment schedule
- Daily flow
- Children’s ages
- Late pick ups or after school
- Parts of the home that are off-limits
- Sick day procedures
- Emergency procedures (e.g. severe weather)
- Field trips
Some home preschools put their handbook on their website. You can search Google for examples and inspiration.
7. Use an online platform to manage your business
As you’ve probably realized by now, running your own business, whether it’s a preschool or not, takes a lot of organizational and administrative work behind-the-scenes. Plus, you’re caring for parents’ most prized possessions – their children – so you’ll need to be within reach and constant contact with parents.
Handling all of this plus caring for children all day is a lot to think about and can become disorganized very quickly. Luckily there are online platforms out there specially designed for home-based preschool directors.
For example, the Wonderschool software allows directors to manage their students, parents, and program from one dashboard. Along with this, we have built a marketplace for parents to search for child care, schedule tours, fill out enrollment paperwork, and make payments.
8. Hire any assistants
Depending on the specifications of your family child care license, you might be required to hire an assistant or two. Or you might want to hire an assistant to lighten your load.
You’ll need to…
- See if your license has any age or education/training requirements for assistants
- Decide if they will be part- or full-time
- Establish a salary or rate per hour for any assistants
Once you have all of this figured out, you will need to look for and interview qualified candidates for the role. You can try word-of-mouth firstly or post on your social media pages asking if anyone knows someone suitable. There are also sites like Craigslist and Indeed where you can post looking to hire.
9. Name and market your preschool to your community
You’re finally in the home stretch of starting your home preschool! Still, this step is extremely important. You’ll want to decide on a name for your program if you haven’t already and a plan to market it in your neighborhood.
Will you post online in Facebook or mom groups? Put flyers up in your neighborhood? Get word-of-mouth referrals? Do you need a website and nice photos? What kind of open houses or tours will you host? These are just some things to think about when it comes to marketing your program to bring in your first students.
10. Get insurance
Lastly, you’ll want to make sure you get liability insurance to cover any injuries that might happen and to adhere to licensing requirements. Here at Wonderschool, we offer access to a discounted insurance policy to child care providers who partner with us.
Otherwise, you can contact your state’s licensing department or CCR&R for more information or if you have questions about insurance.
Enroll your first family!
Once you’ve started your preschool in your home and marketing it to your community, it’s finally time to enroll your first family. Congratulations, pat yourself on the back for all your hard work to get to this point. And good luck with your new business!