Sharing Space in Child Care Programs

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Construct a Bridge of Trust and Understanding
Between Your Program and Host Building

Having any problems with your shared space? Yes or No? The considerations below are sure to help build a foundation that will form a powerful relationship!

1. Children’s Program Staff: First, look at things from the perspective of the community with whom you share space. Some concerns the host building may have are:

  • Program keeps children safe and healthy.
  • Children will not be disruptive while others are in the building.
  • Program rules will be consistent with building rules.
  • Staff is capable of handling problems and emergencies.
  • Staff is able to resolve conflicts and behavior problems.
  • Program has access to own supplies.
  • Staff and families appreciate the sharing of space.

2. Administrators: Recognize that the community may have individualized ideas on the operation of children’s  programs. Address any potential barriers up front:

  • Expectations of host building community.
  • Expectations for program needs. Expectation of program staff.
  • Expectations of program families.
  • Share as much information about the program’s operations as possible.
    • Written Program Philosophy and Mission Statement.
    • Curriculum
    • Staff qualifications/job description.
    • A solid staff Orientation.
    • On-going staff development.
    • Licensing requirements.

3. Because they can make or break a program, when working with principals, teachers, administrative assistants, building engineer, cafeteria staff and media center:

  • Recognize that everyone needs time to adjust.
  • A good relationship begins with communication. Inquire as to how building staff likes to maintain contact.
    • Do they prefer E-mail, notes, or a scheduled appointment? Is it alright to casually drop in?
  • Watch verbal and non-verbal communication.
    • Greet all; be courteous and respectful; be friendly, warm, and sincere.
  • Demonstrate appreciation; show signs and tokens of appreciation often.
    • Verbally – simple courtesy goes a long way.
    • Cards and notes
    • Children making and delivering small crafts and gifts.
    • Remember special days of recognition. (secretary, custodian, cafeteria)
    • Whenever a kindness, service, or recognition is received.
    • No special reason at all!
  • When needed-apologize. Also say “Thank you for your time. I can see how busy you are!”

4. Work towards becoming part of the building TEAM.

  • Join the PTA/PTO.
  • If your building has a weekly/monthly breakfast–sign up and share.
  • Adopt school philosophies and activities into your scheme when possible.
    • Community Service and Random Acts of Kindness.
    •  School rules, limits, and boundaries.
  • Have program open for Meet the Teachers nights.
  • Volunteer and offer care for an evening special event.
  • Volunteer to work school fair, carnival, etc. Is there time where you can occasionally volunteer in classrooms to help with reading or parties?
  • Think of ways to involve school staff in your program; ask teachers to share talents, hobbies, or skills with your program.
  • Invite building staff to YOUR events.
  • Have youth as a group – sign up and perform for school variety/talent shows.
  • Provide a surprise pastry or fruit table in the building lounge. Have children make cards and place them on the teachers’ room doors announcing the random surprise!
  • Consider sending out a survey to each teacher asking them to describe their classroom routine and homework policy. Include a note of intention to support their policies; it just may change everything!
  • Learn names of building personnel and use them.

5. Trust and Respect is the foundation for building powerful relationships.

  • Master the ins and outs of your workplace protocol!!!
    • What are the building rules for play in gym; rules for outside play?
    • Which areas can you freely use? Which need permission to use?
    • What are the procedures for use of video/DVD equipment, copy machines, FAX , etc.?
    • Can you freely post on the walls and personalize your space?
    • What are the rules about children in halls and other rooms?
  • Inform newly hired staff of building policies in their orientation.
  • Show respect and care for the areas you use. Create an attractive and well thought-out environment.
    • Keep area neat and organized.
    • Return furniture and belongings to former spaces.
    • Cover table tops when working with potentially messy projects.
    • Sweep and pick up work areas.
    • Return building supplies when used.
    •  Report any mishaps regarding building property

6. Shout from the rooftops, “Here we are—we are great! See all we do!!!”

  • Submit event articles and accomplishments to your school newsletter and local paper.
  • In areas that are viewed by building staff, maintain updated information centers, bulletin boards,
    murals and activity posters.
  • Supply teachers, lounge area, and office with copies of newsletters.
  • Each day, use a white board /black board; write out schedule and activities.
  • Have constructive conversations with key people with whom you are building trust.
  • Mend past misunderstandings.
  • Provide children with a variety of stimulating activities that address the mixed ages and their individual needs!
  • Raise awareness of your program; publicize it to build recognition and support.

The children themselves are the greatest source of publicity in promoting good will between your program and the host site! Happy and enthusiastic children, who anticipate attending Out-of-School-Time Care, Build a Strong Bridge!

Tip! Read the Discusion on this topic…there is an interesting thread that followed this paper…It is ‘Reader Advice” to those with difficulty or problems in Sharing Space and  Building  Bridges.  Barb

Tip! To Connect Families and Staff Click Here for Activity Ideas!

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