Whenever I go to babysit or take care of kids, I like to bring a bag with fun things for the kids and things I might need later. Kids like variety. Bringing my own toys and craft supplies leaves even more room for them to ask questions and discover new ideas. The more questions they have and ideas they learn to keep busy, the less time I have to spend 'thinking for them' and the more time we all have for fun. All of the below items are carefully chosen because they can be used to teach a HUGE number of new ideas and concepts in a fun way. Let's get started!
Schedule-I take care of up to four kids at a time. They are all at different important life stages. It can be quiet tiring trying to help the younger ones keep track of what we are doing next. They often ask "when will we do..." So I developed an interactive schedule tracking system that helps the younger children transition from one task to the other and the older ones know what is next without me having to tell them. It helps keep the same, time- stealing questions to a minimum and gives the kids more security throughout their day.
Reward system- I have few different reward systems up my sleeve that work for different families. Each system is very interactive, teaches a lesson and provides fun or healthy rewards. Let me know if you would like me to write a post about the different reward systems I use in the comments below.
Family file- Before I babysit for any family, the parents fill out an application form which includes emergency information, pertinent information about the children and basic contact information for the parents. I also require an emergency medical release if I will be with the kids more for more than 6 hours at a time. I keep this information, along daily notes in their file and bring the file with me when I go to their house.
Daily notebook- As stated above, I keep a daily journal of things that happen throughout the day. At the end of every month or quarter, I give parents a copy of my notes for their records. The daily journal is one paper with the child's name and age, the time I started and was finished, meals and snacks with times, nap times and other notes that are important. If we go out of the house, I write down when and where. If a child is hurt, I note that also.
Zip lock bags- Theses bags are perfect for keeping small 'like' toys in one place. I label each set and it makes it easier for the kids to clean it up by themselves.
Large freezer bags-These are perfect for any smaller toy that will easily get lost, but will not fit in a small zip lock bag. They are also more durable, so I put my cars and letter shaped roads in these bags.
Small plastic bins- I only bring my small plastic bins on special days since I mostly just use them for sensory activities. These activities can be very messy and plastic bins from The Dollar Tree seem to keep the messes to a minimum.
The toys below are useful at some point every day. If you have just a few of these, you can make obstacle course and outdoor games to wear them out. Balloons are great for inventing new indoor games. Books are fun to read during quiet time. You can also turn them upside down to make little tents or 'goals' for playing indoor golf. Small stuffed toys are great for puppet shows, quiet time, treasure hunt games, pretending and a whole bunch of things. If you bring only these toys, your day will be so much more fun.
Must- Have Craft Supplies
Every kids I have ever met LOVES to do crafts. They love to cut, paste, invent and create. Some kids even NEED it to keep them from being aggressive and grumpy. You could just bring crayon and paper, but I try to bring other fun craft supplies as well. Kids can learn everything from the science of building towers to how to be grateful with some scissors, glue and a bunch of paper. Cutting is also a key part of fine- motor development, too.
I encourage any private child care giver to have as many of these thing on hand as possible. Especially the first three. In my 10+ years of experience, these things will help protect you and keep you from going insane when the kids are especially difficult. Toys and crafts are great ways to pass the time and teach valuable academic and life lessons. But above all else, please make sure you cater your bag to the specific kids and family you are with. Some kids can not be trusted with scissors. Other kids will eat small toys and glue. In such cases, only bring these things if your kids are not likely to get into your bag and watch them VERY carefully when they are using them.
MOST IMPORTANT: Have fun! Kids are great, because they focus on positive things much longer than negative ones. They still love to try new games and ideas and they find entertainment in the smallest things.
I was a nanny for over ten years. Now, I make homemade toys and write full time. Occasionally, I work at my local schools and provide back- up child care for some parents I used to work for and for my church's nursery. I am multi-talented and loves to paint, draw, crochet, write and sew.