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Jun 27, 2023 3 min read

Three Tips to Onboard Child Care Teachers

Leah Woodbury By: Leah Woodbury
two teachers converse in front of a whiteboard

Whether you’re developing a new teacher onboarding program from scratch at your child care center or are updating your current program, these tips from Kris Murray will help you improve your onboarding process. 

Kris is the founder and president of the Child Care Success Company and an expert on child care businesses. Kris and her team serve early learning program owners and leaders with coaching, training, events, books and more.

Let’s take a look at three tips from Kris about how to successfully onboard teachers and other employees at your child care center.

1. Have and Share Your Core Values and Your Core Value Behaviors

Kris gives these examples of values: teamwork, integrity, growth, fun, education and excellence. But you can of course decide your own. 

Tie behaviors to a core value that you can hire, train and fire by. Then live and breathe your core values.

“Today’s millennials and Gen Z want an organization with core values,” she said. 

Hire coachable people, she said, and ask yourself questions such as what an A player in your organization looks like. 

You need 30-, 60- and 90-day checklists. And in 90 days, decide if the new employee is a good fit for your center. If so, it’s time to move to the next phase of that employee’s professional development. 

Kris said to consider a 90-day performance or retention bonus. 

“You will see retention grow from that one strategy,” she said.

2. Assign a Buddy on Day 1 Through a Teacher-Mentor Program

two teachers sitting at a table working

A recent survey cited by Fortune found that 80% of respondents who felt undertrained from poor onboarding plan to quit soon. 

In today’s world of being understaffed, you can’t afford to lose employees and then turn around to start over your onboarding process again.

Kris suggests laying out a teacher-mentor program. People want to feel loved, supported, trained, cared for and welcomed, she said. A fellow teacher serving as a mentor to a new employee can provide these things. 

By mentoring new employees, you reduce the chances of those employees becoming unhappy or even leaving your child care program, which will ultimately save you time and money.

3. Create Professional Development Timelines

Kris cites the work of Donna Thornton-Roberts in creating an 18-month timeline to show applicants how much professional development they’ll get at each point in their onboarding. Such a timeline shows an applicant how much your program will invest in an employee and support that employee.

Kris said you even can create a graphic to show applicants of this breakdown, and do it by roles. 

“They will be much more likely to stick with you if you paint this picture for them,” Kris said.

Learn More About Teacher Onboarding and Professional Development

Graphic with picture of Kris Murray that says, "Learn from Procare Solutions and ECE business expert Kris Murray - watch the webinar"

When Kris hires someone new at her company, she does a one-hour onboarding welcome call with the new employee. She describes the company’s “brand story” and other aspects, such as how it serves clients and families and how employees work with each other as a team.

She also learns each employee’s story to “cement them to my company and my vision.” 

If you’d like to learn more from Kris, check out this free on-demand webinar on teacher onboarding and training in which she shares more strategies and tips for successful onboarding of child care employees and how professional development factors into retaining them!

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Leah Woodbury

Leah Woodbury is the head of content at Procare Solutions. Her job includes writing about topics that matter to child care professionals and finding ways to help them do their important work. She’s a mom of two who loves getting updates about what her preschooler is doing during the day via the Procare child care mobile app!

Leah Woodbury