January 31, 2009

Moving Forward

As most of you know, it's been my little dream to have my own escuelita, and what I mean by that is, having it outside my home. I've rambled about realizing this is my calling in this lifetime, and have been consumed with logistics and researching what it takes to launch a preschool, and doing it successfully. I obsessed over the name, the logo, and then the website. Next came the stress of finding property. This, I knew would be the hardest part.

Do we lease? Do we buy a home and convert? Either way, this is a HUGE step for me. If we buy a 2nd home, there are many stipulations. And then there is zoning, and HOAs and other red tape. If we lease, we're in it for only year, and can decide if we want to purchase property later.

This last year, I've been researching what makes a quality program. An amazing program. The bottom line is, it comes to staff. This was confirmed [again] for me yesterday, when I read through the current issue of a local parenting journal [Parent-Wise]. And what is sad is this is where most centers skimp.


"Typical parents judge a daycare center or preschool based on if it's safe, clean, and in their budget, rather than on how well the center provides emotional care and intellectual stimulation."

I'm going to be quoting a lot here, just because when I'm at the point in my journey when I ask myself, why am I looking for such specific qualifications with my staff, I can come back to this, and be reminded.

UNDERPAID, UNDEREDUCATED TEACHERS

"Nearly all childcare workers in this country--be in-home daycare providers or degreed teachers at a fancy private preschool--are severly underpaid. As in all professions, without quality workers, you put out a poor product. Quality childcare workers are responsible for managing groups of children while developing enriching classroom activities, both of which require a wealth of knowledge about child development and early childhood education. Too many parents, however, don't understand the breadth of knowledge required to care for young children at the expense of hiring and maintaining those people."

Quality begins with an educated staff. Period.

"An NACCRRA report revealed that the educational levels of childcare workers in Texas were quite low--this could be because Texas required childcare workers to only have a high school diploma or GED before working with children. Austin fares no better, despite its highly educated population and progressive nature. The results are unfortunate, given that childcare studies unaminously find that the college education level of staff is the most strongly correlated factor in quality care"

"The early years are critical, and they need to be spent with those professionals who have made that committment to children. Paying people to make that committment is expensive. And often, parents can't afford, or don't want, to pay the price necessary for good quality care.

"Childcare costs should be near the top of a household budget, probably second on the list after mortgage [or] rent", says Lynn Payne a child care referral specialist at FamilyConnections in Austin. However, this does not mean that the more expensive a program is, the better. The real question is, how much of the center's tuition goes back to the staff."

"In 1985, I chose to drive a 10-year old car so I could pay a little more for child care tuition," says Dawn Leach, director of the ACC Children's Lab School, "I have never regretted that choice."

Choosing a good daycare or preschool is a lot of work. And in the end, you get what you pay for.

So, when I am putting so much thought into what materials and furnishings will go in my school, designing a natural environment that engages senses, an environment that provokes wonder, curiosity, and intellectual engagement, and the fact that I'm seeking educated staff, whom I will need to compensate well, I wonder, will families see the value in this?? Or will they want something that is cheaper?

Today we went in and met (again) with the landlord of a commercial property we have been considering. Prime, prime location. It's a bit larger than I'd like to start off with, but has large classrooms and a room which could be converted to an Atelier (Art Studio). I initially rejected it because the price made me very nervous and I would have to start big. We went in and gave him our proposal. A proposal I would feel comfortable with as a start up preschool. A proposal that involved cost modifications and changing up some of the aesthetics of the property.

Well, he agreed! YES! He agreed! I am so overwhelmed right now. I was expecting him to tell us we were out of our minds. And I was ready to walk if he did. BUT, he said yes! He's going to run it by his father (who still oversees some things with this property), and we have not signed anything yet, but my hopes are high.

And hopefully, this photo here, will come to fruition.

5 comments:

iMother2.0 said...
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Melissa said...

OOOHHHHH I am so excited for you! Somehow I suspected that the landlord would work with you but I am so thrilled that he agreed to your proposal!

Congratulations Mama T!

Melissa said...

OOOHHHHH I am so excited for you! Somehow I suspected that the landlord would work with you but I am so thrilled that he agreed to your proposal!

Congratulations Mama T!

Vick said...

That is *awesome* Andrea - just awesome! I'm so excited for you!!

anja said...

Wow! That is amazing! I am so happy for you, I hope it all works out, its going to be great! I can't wait for everything to come to fruition. Love and blessings to you mi hermana