Early Education Centers Are Usually Open During the Holiday Weeks Creating Challenges For Directors, Educators, and Children
Unlike educators who work in K-12 or college settings, early childhood educators often don’t get time off around the holidays. While public schools and colleges close, early education centers usually stay open to accommodate families who need to work and or who just want a break from the kids.
That being said, many families do take vacations during this time which means early education centers have a lot less children then usual. This creates a lot of staffing challenges for centers. First off, teachers themselves often want family time and request vacation days. Directors need an accurate count going into these vacation weeks to make sure proper ratios are maintained. Directors are often left with tough decisions about which staff vacations they can accommodate which can lead to tension between the staff and director and staff and staff.
One solution often used is combining two classrooms into one or having teachers go into a room they usually don’t work in. This situation can sometimes create confusion and stress for the children. Children may wonder why most of their friends are not at school, why they are in a different classroom, or why they have a different teacher. In order for this to go smoothly as possible, directors, staff, and families need to all work together. Here are some tips:
1. Directors and administrators should work to get an accurate count from families of who plans to attend holiday weeks.
2. Directors should be up from with families that this week will most likely have changes to the children’s routine which might throw some children off and make them upset
3. Directors should make policies about the process of asking for and getting vacation these weeks as clear as possible. When more staff ask for vacation than can be accommodated, directors should be clear with staff why which staff were allowed to take time off and which staff were not
4. Staff should be accommodating to staff who most need to take time off do to travel or other family considerations
5. Staff should try to make the week fun for the children by making the day as much free play and with as little pressure as possible.
6. Families should understand that letting the center know their plans for holiday weeks helps the center immensely and sticking to those plans make things run smoothly
7. Families that bring in their children should let them know beforehand that things might be different at the school and some of their friends and teachers might not be there or they might be in a different class.