The Ultimate Guide to Starting Your Own Preschool

how to start a preschool

Congratulations on making the decision to start your own preschool! Whatever your reason, whether you’re a teacher with a vision or a parent who sees a need, opening a preschool isn't easy. If you want to run a successful preschool, you need expert advice, a clear preschool business plan, and preschool software to help you stay organized and streamline your operations.

Your success in opening a preschool will depend on careful management of the startup process. This guide will explain exactly how to start your own preschool, from writing a business plan and choosing a location, to marketing, hiring, and managing your day-to-day operations.

1. Learn about preschool licensing requirements

Your local government will have rules and regulations that will govern you as both a preschool and a small business owner. You'll want to strictly comply with both. Start by checking out Child Care Aware® of America’s licensing guidelines for preschools, and then research your specific state and city. If you’re in California, the Department of Social Services has a guide for how to become a licensed preschool. Most states will have something similar. 

2. Write a preschool business plan

Writing a preschool business plan is a big task, but due diligence and hard work at this stage will inform the rest of the process. Here you’ll hash out your preschool's mission statement, marketing plan, organizational plan, staffing, operations, budgets, and more. You’ll need to do your research, with a focus on understanding how much it will cost to successfully launch a preschool. Are you using your own money, or are you seeking a small business loan? Have you looked into preschool grants? For additional help, the U.S. Small Business Association provides detailed instructions on writing a general business plan.

3. Find a location for your preschool

Are you opening a small, home-based preschool, looking to rent an existing preschool facility, or starting a preschool from scratch with a brand new facility? In any case, you’ll need to find a home for your preschool. Check your city’s zoning laws and preschool licensing guidelines when you’re making this decision to be sure your location is compliant.

4. Get insurance for your preschool

Depending on the type and size of your preschool, you’ll need insurance policies of several different types, including liability, property, workers’ compensation, and business insurance. Again, check the preschool licensing requirements for guidance.

5. Prepare your preschool facility

If you're getting ready to open a preschool, you'll obviously need furniture and supplies. You’ll also need  safety equipment such as fire extinguishers, disaster supplies, etc. Running your own preschool comes with lots of safety issues that you’ll definitely want to be prepared for.

6. Develop policies and procedures

Working off of your business plan, write out policies and procedures and handbooks for your staff and families. You’ll also develop a disaster or crisis management plan and health, safety, privacy, and nutrition protocols, all under the guidance of your local preschool licensing requirements.

7. Hire staff to help you run your preschool

Verify the preschool licensing requirements for staff ratios and teachers’ educational backgrounds. Preschool staff are subject to criminal background checks and fingerprinting, and be sure to rigorously verify references and education levels. A preschool is only as good as its teachers, so make your preschool hiring decisions carefully.

8. Prepare your preschool curriculum

Your preschool's mission statement should guide this step, whether you are following an existing pedagogy or you have your own vision. A carefully chosen preschool curriculum is crucial to the quality of your preschool program.

9. Seek accreditation

According the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC), only one in 10 preschools in the U.S. are accredited. This step is optional, but it will go a long way in your recruitment process, as it gives parents peace of mind that your program is high quality.

10. Invest in preschool software

One of the best ways to start a successful preschool in 2019 is to take advantage of the amazing preschool technology at your disposal. Streamline your administrative tasks and you’ll have more time to focus on providing your families a top-notch preschool experience–which is your whole goal anyway, right?

Brightwheel makes easy-to-use preschool software that will help you manage your preschool and stay in touch with families. Your staff will use brightwheel for recording and tracking daily events and activities in the classroom, and parents get real-time updates delivered to their mobile device throughout the day. This powerful app also offers secure, digital check-in/check-out, and an automated paperless billing system. This is a great way to keep your families looped in on daily activities.

11. Market your preschool and seek applicants

At the very least you’ll need marketing collateral and an online presence. List your preschool in local preschool directories and participate in preschool enrollment fairs in your area. Advertise through local businesses, parent groups, local events, popular blogs. Try sites like Red Tricycle and Winnie. Run a social media campaign focusing on your target population, or host a grand opening event to attract families. Once you’ve managed to fill your inaugural student roster, continue with ongoing marketing efforts so that you’ll always be building a customer base. A lot of preschools host community events and open houses throughout the year as a way to build a brand presence.

Starting a preschool can be challenging, but running a successful preschool is extremely rewarding. Wishing you the best of luck on the journey to open your own preschool!

Brightwheel is an easy-to-use app for preschools, daycares, and families. Download it today and get started!

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