Bluebird House

Bluebird House

Michigan, USA
By Karen Haynes

Bluebird House is a school in my home for children 3-6 years old. I think it is an ideal place for young children to expand their world beyond their small family and for parents to get the support they need in those crucial early years. Bluebird has the comfortable smallness of a home setting and a full pre-school/kindergarten program; the best of both worlds. I am currently licensed for 12 children and have a three day program with the option of full or half days. This program runs from September through June. I also have a parent-tot program one day a week, where parents can come in with their 0-4 year old children for 2 hours. We have a circle, bake bread, play in and outdoors and do seasonal crafts. I have articles and DVD’s for the parents and we learn and practice good parenting skills. This way I really get to know the parents and they learn skills it would be hard for me to convey in a parent-teacher conference. They learn to understand and value how we work with the children and the children get comfortable and make an easy transition to the three day program.
I also do 8 weeks of summer camp in the summer, offering three full or half days. This gives some continuity to the children and offers an opportunity for new children to come in and fill in the enrollment, if needed. It also gives some employment to my assistant over the summer.

   

Having a school in one’s home is simpler in many ways than having to manage a center in another building. There is one garden for home and school, the children can help with composting, caring for our cat, many healthy activities without the difficulty of managing two places. There is always a heart beating here, and the children feel it. It is easy to engage the children in daily and weekly work that is not fabricated. Planning is also easier, not having to travel to another building to set up activities, etc.

Licensing for the program was quite easy in Michigan and the people are very pleasant and supportive. Many restrictions that centers have are not required in the home. They love my program and rarely cite me for anything when they come to inspect. They are flexible and really have the children’s’ welfare in mind. It seemed like a lot of hoops to jump through in the beginning, (fingerprinting, furnace inspection, carbon monoxide detector, fire extinguisher, radon gas test, TB test, background checks, first aid/ CPR training, proper exits, measurement of space available for the children, etc.) but once things are in place, it is not really much to maintain.There are also tax advantages to working in the home. A percentage of home repairs, utilities, etc can be counted as a business expense.

Several parents have attended meditation classes, some taking up the practice seriously, and attending weekly meditations and other meditation programs. The parents appreciate it when I bring yoga and meditation to the children during circle and having a place like Bluebird House to help them through the crucial early years of their families.

All in all, I love having the school in my home. The form you give your program can fit into your lifestyle. I would like, someday, to have a drop-in option for parents who meditate to come in and do their practices while I care for their children. There is also the possibility of doing night care, if there is a need in your community such as a hospital near your home where nurses work the night shift.

Please visit my website at bluebirdhouse.net to see pictures and find out more details about the program. Feel free to contact me if you want to explore this idea and have questions. karenerichaynes@msn.com