Did you know that some of the terms you use regularly on the job can make your parents and prospects cringe? For example, you understand perfectly well that when you refer to the term, “day care”, you are talking about your program filled with the most current and professional approaches to early childhood education and development. However, when you take off your director’s hat and think in the parent’s perspective, that term, “day care”, has a custodial connotation. Even though many parents use this term themselves, if we in the early care and education industry want to professionalize the impression we give our prospects, customers, and referral sources, you need to be very aware of exactly what you say and it will be perceived by each one of those target audiences.
Here are some terms to take out of your vocabulary when talking with parents and referral sources, and the replacement terms that will make them feel good about you, rather than wince and wonder.

Term to nix: day care. I love what a professor in the ECE Department of Pacific Oaks College once said, “The day will take care of itself. We take care of children.”

Replacements: child care, early childhood development, early care and education

What are you looking for in the early care and education experience you want for Ethan?


Term to nix: tour. We generally tour places that are much more institutional and less personal, such as museums. Child care centers are warm, welcoming places parents and their children visit to consider enrolling for daily attendance.

Replacement: visit

Could you and Hanna come in for a center visit on Tuesday or is Wednesday better?


Term to nix: slot. A parent sees their child crammed into a slot – not a good image.

Replacements: space, place, position

We have only two spaces left in this toddler room.


Terms to nix: fee, cost, price

Replacements: investment, tuition

The tuition for our full time preschool program is $….

Term to nix: discount

Replacement: savings

For your second child, you will receive a 10% savings on tuition.

Term to nix: but. This term can make you appear defensive, especially when you use it in a response to an
objection or complaint.

Replacement: however

I know it can sound expensive. However, here you’ll find the kind of program that will insure that Alisha is better prepared for kindergarten….

Term to nix: caregiver

Replacements: teacher, educator, faculty

Our teachers take pride in making sure your child develops a love for learning.


Terms to nix: special needs child, at risk child. These are children first, who are differently abled or have unique needs. You would not say, Alex is an allergy child; rather, Alex is a child with allergies.

Replacements: a child with special needs, unique challenges, special abilities

Little Kevin is a child with some unique challenges and special abilities.


Practice using these replacement terms when you talk to parents and other referral sources in your community, and watch their impression of your professionalism rise right before your eyes!

Send me one term you have replaced to promote more professionalism.

Julie Wassom
“The Speaker Whose Message Means Business”
Marketing and Sales Speaker/Consultant/Author
Call me: 303-693-2306
Fax me: 303-617-6422
E-me: julie@juliewassom.com
See me: www.juliewassom.com