Deciding what age to focus on is one of the most important business decisions you will make about your program.
When choosing the range of ages that you will serve, it is important to consider the needs of your market. In almost all areas, the need for infant care (18 months and younger) is very high. Because of this, we have consistently seen that openings for infants and young toddlers will fill more quickly.
Also, consider that you can charge more for infant and toddler spaces. In some locations (such as San Francisco), provider can charge up to 25% more for infant spots due to high need. That said, for infants and toddlers, it is important to maintain a high teacher to child ratio (e.g. 1:3) whereas it is possible to have a ratio of 1:6 for children aged 3 - 5 since they are better at self care and independent play.
You should also carefully consider your own experience and preferences. If your experience is only with preschool age and above, that may work best for you.
You can also consider starting out with younger ages and adjusting your minimum limit as your program grows. We generally tell all of our providers that as a brand new program, it is unrealistic to quickly start the program with only children aged 3 - 5 years old.
Our providers generally “grow into” their programs, meaning that as a new program, you may need to take some younger children who will grow with your program. Once you are more established and known, you will attract families with older children. In some cases, directors hire an assistant to lead care for the younger children.
Consider choosing the youngest age you would prefer, and then think about starting your program with children 6-12 months younger than this for your first year. As your program grows, you can target a more narrow age range.
Overall, these are the questions you should ask yourself when deciding on ages:
- How quickly do you want to fill your program?
- What age group do you have prior experience teaching or caring for?
- What type of activities are you most excited about leading?
- Are you open to starting with younger ages and focusing on older ages as your program grows?