A Montessori Daycare is often considered something most Montessori leaders do not plan to offer families. But families all over America are facing economic hardships that require both parents to work. It has been estimated that over 85% of mothers across America are working. With this in mind, it is not hard to see the need and value of offering a Montessori Daycare with longer hours. If you do not offer this service, you will miss many possible enrollments.
What is the primary difference in a traditional Montessori program and a Montessori Daycare?
Traditional Montessori Programs (TMP) are usually only open for four hours or less while Montessori Daycare (MD) is usually open for eight to twelve hours a day to accommodate working parents. These longer programs provide the Montessori class for a portion of the day with wrap around excare. Longer hours require more staffing, extra rooms for napping and playing after school, extra food for snacks and meals, state licensing and higher prices sometimes twice your original school price.
MD programs usually have a separate "extra" hourly or daily cost for before school care and after school care. This extra hourly or daily cost is best paid weekly while the school portion can be paid monthly. You will want to research this local cost comparison carefully so that you cover all your extra costs.
Look at the highest cost childcare in your area and plan to be somewhere above that cost, Parents want the Montessori program and are willing to pay top dollar for these programs. The local "traditional daycare" might be charging $250 a week but compared to your program, it is not offering as good an educational start for the children. Parents can see this when they visit and are usually willing to pay your extra cost, if you give them options such as weekly or bi-weekly tuitions vs. the larger monthly costs most often offered.
Speaking of costs, don't forget those extra weeks in some months. I suggest that monthly tuition programs base their tuition on a ten month payment plan, even if the school is only open nine months. This will pay for those extra weeks in the school year. Also, plan to ask for higher registration fees and other fees to cover the weekly classroom food costs.
So where do I begin if I want to start a Montessori Daycare?
You can call Montessori Woods for some help. We offer free program consulting if you purchase your furniture through us.
We can assist you with all or as few aspects as you might need in this business development.
The first thing you must do is notify your state child care licensing agency and request state regulations. These rules are different in every state. They will give you the primary guidelines that you will have to follow. These regulations are established to protect the safety of the children in your care and will not dictate your Montessori practices.You might have to educate your childcare worker on Montessori practices but do not go to war with these workers. It is much easier to wrap your kitchen tools for your presentations than to battle your childcare licensing agency.
Second, if you are going to build, contact us for some suggestions on building design. We are happy to help with this. Costs for a new building can run over a million dollars depending on size of building and land costs. A good second choice if you do not want to invest in real estate is to find a place to rent for a short period. This could be a local church or a large home that is zoned properly.
Third, establish a working budget that will give you some idea of cost vs.income and profits. Find out what local teachers are making, local schools are charging and based on the highest local rate, establish your budget.
Visit some local childcare and local Montessori schools to get some ideas on tuition costs and be sure to ask for their registration packets. This information will be a good place for you to start in putting your own packet together.
Timing for opening is critical since most parents do not change schools in the middle of the year. Therefore, plan on opening in mid to late summer to enroll for fall. With that in mind, you will want to plan your classroom orders to arrive in early summer so that you have time to get a model in place for parents to see.
Pre-enrollment registration fees can be a real help with start-up costs so charge a fee that will keep parents from moving. Therefore, start enrollment early, have an established website for registration, get a large sign posted outside your planned facility to let parents know that you are soon to open. Plan some summer open houses so that parents can see the classrooms.
In early to mid summer, you will want to hire staff. I would not suggest that you put them on payroll until two-three weeks before school starts but at least line them up. If any of these teachers will need Montessori training, summer is the time to find that.
You will also need to consider extended hour caregivers for the early morning and afternoons.
Pay these workers by the hour. Call us to discuss furniture and supplies for your excare classes. We can help with those needs also.