Training Schedule for New Hires at Your Child Care Center
Starting a new job can be stressful for both employee and director. Effectively onboarding and training each new hire is essential to make them feel welcome and set them up for success in their role. Not only does training and onboarding boost employee success, but 46% of employees say company training makes them more likely to work there long-term.
Effective onboarding is about solid processes and planning. Taking the time to build an effective process and put it into action will allow you to have a consistent hiring and onboarding process that starts from the first contact. After onboarding a number of new employees at my childcare center I designed a training schedule to be completed each time a new employee was officially hired.
As you follow this training schedule, consider your center and how each item could fit your center and your unique needs. Breaking training into chunks and spending enough time in each step is proven to boost productivity in new team members while increasing staff retention rates.
Our training schedule is broken down into 3 days, plus a follow-up after the 3 days are complete. Depending on the experience of your new team member, you may want to spend more time on a particular part of the training at your discretion to make sure they are ready before moving on to the next step.
For most cases I have found the following schedule works well, especially if the new staff has had prior experience in child care:
Training Day 1: Shadow
The purpose of the first day is for the new hire to shadow an existing staff member. Their goal on this day is to watch and learn, not to do.
During this day of onboarding, assign your new staff member a well-seasoned team member as a trainer. Have the new team member shadow the trainer throughout their whole day. Choose a staff member who is experienced, friendly, and models the culture that you want your team to exhibit.
TIP: bad and good habits both start early, model the GOOD ones from the start to help your new hire get started on the right track.
Have your trainer conduct the following classroom walk-through with the new team member on day one. Use this list as a checklist to ensure you don’t miss anything important.
- Each classroom
- First Aid Kits
- Curriculum Binder
- Classroom Binder (class phone list)
- Emergency Exits
- Bathrooms (staff and student)
- Staff Offices
- Check-in Computers/Procedures
- Snack Refrigerator and Snack Cupboard
- Outdoor Play Areas
Training Day 2: Try it out!
The purpose of day two is for the new team member to try out what they observed on day one, but with support. During this day switch roles from time to time by having the trainer (seasoned staff member) shadow the new team member. This process works best if the trainer can offer encouragement and constructive feedback to the new team member. When properly carried out it’s a great way to train a new team member while demonstrating the concept of peer coaching within your school.
Although the team member is still in the learning process on day two you want to give them the opportunity to do more than just observe. Give them opportunities throughout the day to take the reins. This is a great way to see what they learned on day one and where they still need to grow. Many people learn better through doing than watching so this is the time to get those hands-on learners in the driver's seat.
Training Day 3: On your Own
On day three, let the new staff member teach in their assigned position. This is where we get to see how they do in their new role and what training still needs to be done. On this day the staff member can be counted into the classroom ratio, unless your staffing allows for extra hands.
It’s important as director to check-in with your new staff member throughout day three. Ask them how day one and two went and see if they have any questions or concerns. This also encourages close communication with your new staff member right from the start in their new role.
Also keep an eye out for red flags - If you don’t catch bad habits or other issues by day 3 the chances are the staff member will continue doing it. Do your best to keep a close watch without being overbearing, and offer coaching and support as needed.
Week 1: Follow-up
At this point your onboarding and training is complete! Once the staff member is trained and included in the classroom ratio it is essential to offer continued support and coaching for at least the first few months.
One way to do this is to send a follow-up email after the first week. I use this email as a chance to encourage them by telling them what I have seen them do well, and also check in and see what ways I can better support them as a leader.
Here is a sample of my follow-up email:
I hope your first week of work went well. I’ve enjoyed seeing you ______ and was impressed with your ability to _______. To help ensure a positive experience for you and other future team members, please answer a few quick questions about your experience below.
- Did you feel welcomed by staff and students? Why or why not?
- What is your favorite part of your new job?
- What is your least favorite part?
- On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your overall training experience?
- What can we do to better support you in this next week?
Thanks so much!
You’d be surprised how much a simple follow-up email makes your new hire feel supported - knowing that you will continue to support them after their initial training, and are willing to listen to their feedback and concerns.
The big takeaway is to not rush the training process. It takes time to train and onboard a new team member effectively, and each part in the process has an important role. Taking the time to follow the process without skipping steps will help your new staff member be successful in their new role. This directly impacts the overall satisfaction of your new team member which in turn lowers your turnover rate.
Can’t find the time to onboard? Remember as a director or owner you do not need to do the whole process - nor should you! The best leaders enable people on their team to help along the way by delegating like a pro. Also consider freeing up time spent doing laborious administrative tasks by automating billing and offering online registration through childcare management software so you can focus on the work only you can do!
Your child care team is your most important asset, so managing them effectively will simultaneously lower your costs, save you time, and boost your reputation. Follow this onboarding plan consistently to reduce headaches and set your center up for continued growth and success!