I speak with childcare programs everyday. From the small home daycares to big multi-site afterschool programs and everything in between. There is one thing many of the great programs have in common.
These programs are already planning for next year. Many have been planning since the end of last year. Why? Because a lot goes into a new school year. Typically, the larger the afterschool or childcare program, the more time they will need.
The reason so many plan ahead is to eliminate some of the headaches caused by this year’s programs. Maybe something hasn’t worked out. Perhaps the process of taking attendance and parent pick-up was too long. Or possibly one of the new activities offered didn’t turn out well. With all that could go wrong, it helps to have a few tools to organize your planning.
Take some time to adjust for next year.
Analysis and Reflection
What worked? What didn’t? Analyze the last half of 2017 and the first half of 2018. Try to find patterns. What was taking up most of your time which could have been delegated or automated?
Do Your Research
You hopefully have a list with some idea of where you need to improve, where you could save time, and where you should be designating more of your time. If not, use our list to get started.
Childcare or afterschool staff will always be the most expensive aspect of your childcare, but also the most important. Your staff is critical to the success of a program. Especially afterschool programs. This is not your typical classroom. Students choose which program they want to attend. This mean retention of students year after year could come down to the quality of the staff. Who are these staffers? Find them and figure out how to keep them happy. If you are a parent-paid program, staff who truly know how to connect with the children are the ones you want around.
Survey your students. Parents want their students interests to be realized. A survey is a great way to let them know they are appreciated and heard. Offer multiple choice options with some new ideas or ask for suggestions and analyze the results.
Need ideas? Here is a list of one-off ideas that could be turned into full afterschool courses. For example, “dog walking” or “go to the zoo” could be turned into “animal sciences” where students can play with dogs/cats brought in from local pounds and learn about how to work with animals. Or it could be turned into “mindfulness” where dogs come in and help students de-stress after a long week of school while they also learn how to meditate, do yoga, and more.
Technology is meant to automate some of your processes to improve efficiency and save you time. There is an abundance of software and apps designed to make your life easier as an administrator, educator, and more. These can be used to track attendance, help with billing & registration, and messaging parents (*cough cough* this is what Kinderlime does *cough cough*).
It may not be popular, but if you only had 5 students sign up for painting class, then you may need to cut your losses and drop that class from the registration list. Aim for something a little more general. Perhaps the students would enjoy being part of a generic “visual arts” class instead. You can reduce your total number of classes while offering other suitable options for students.
No one will be able to attend your activities if they don’t know exactly what you are offering. Highlight the new classes and the classes with the highest attendance rates. Include reviews from parents or children about the teacher or class itself. If you send out a newsletter or email blast add pictures from last year. Word of mouth is one thing, but active marketing allows parents to see what is available.
Independent schools, large childcare programs, and multi-site afterschool programs have an annual process in place for this. Help yourself by putting a plan in place this year!
It’s that time of year to de-stress! You’ve managed, taught, and enabled students to learn and grow all day for months and now you get some time away from the stress. It’s time to enjoy that much-needed, and well-earned, break. You may have plans to lounge on the couch, binge watch your favorite show, or go on a trip somewhere warm. Whatever the case, these tips may offer you some new ideas. If not, they will at least remind you of what’s to come!
Do something you enjoy but never have time for during a regular week. Go to your favorite store during the middle of the week to avoid the long lines. Take your dog on a walk while it’s still light outside. Make yourself a cup of hot cocoa/coffee and enjoy it before it gets cold. Go skiing. Read your favorite book. It’s the little things.
Catch up on sleep. We’d bet that you’ve dreamed of taking naps or sleeping in on a Monday. Well, now is your chance to fully embrace these dreams and make them a reality!
Binge watch your favorite show. Netflix recently released their most watched TV shows of 2017. You could watch one of those or catch up on one of your favorites. Or go get your Hallmark Channel on! The movies can be prettyincredibly cheesy at times, but they’re great at spreading love and holiday cheer. There’s nothing quite like getting cozy on the couch or in your bed and watching TV to get your mind off of grading and lesson planning.
Visit somewhere new. A new place nearby to eat in. A mini-road trip to a park or a neighboring city. A flight to somewhere you’ve never been before. You don’t need to indulge on a lavish trip to Hawaii to enjoy the benefits of travel and experiencing a new place.
Spend time with family, but also remember to take some time for yourself. For most of us, holidays are about spending time with family and loved ones. While important, it can also drive you a bit crazy. Have a day or two marked in your calendar where you can block off the whole day. Maybe even turn off your phone that day. Make it a day for you and only you. Here are a few great ideas for how to spend those few days away from email and family.
Keep time spent on work to a minimum. If you feel like you need to get some lesson planning or project work done in order to start the new year fresh, please do — but remember that the second half of the year has fewer vacation days!
Keep some music going in the background. Who doesn’t like a little music in their life? Whether you are doing chores, cooking dinner, or reading, music can help create ambiance for any occasion. It is also a proven tool to help reduce stress and anxiety.
Don’t be afraid to say no. This is your time off. If you don’t want to do something, don’t feel obligated to say yes at every opportunity presented. Be selective with how you spend your time.
Get out of your comfort zone. Be playful. Try some laughing yoga. Laughing yoga might look cringeworthy to most of us, but it may be just the thing some of us need to get out of our comfort zone. At the very least you will have a VERY interesting story…
Create and share a gratitude list with your loved ones. How often do you share your appreciation for your family, friends, and loved ones? Tell them what they mean to you. It will make their day and help spread the holiday spirit of giving.
Volunteer. It may not sound relaxing, but volunteering, especially around the holidays, can make you feel more connected and more involved with the community. You gain perspective and a sense of accomplishment. Not only are you giving back to those less fortunate, you are in many ways showing them that when things aren’t going well, there are people who care.
There are many reservations when it comes to switching to a more technology-enabled childcare software. Here are a few common ones we hear:
“We have always done it this way.”
This is one of the most detrimental sentence any business, across any industry, could utter. Without innovation and tech adoption, you could be wasting days worth of time every year using an old system to perform tasks that could take mere minutes with new technology.
“I’m not tech savvy,” OR “I’m worried my staff isn’t as tech savvy.”
We have many customers who thought the same thing before using Kinderlime. We understand technology is not easy for everyone. However, that should not stop you from thinking about a childcare software as learning how to use one could make your work much, much easier. Because of this we create many help articles and YouTube videos to help walk you through our system and apps. We are also available for live training webinars for you and your staff if you should need additional help. Our aim is to create a system that is as easy and intuitive as possible.
If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us!
“What if the parents don’t like it?”
Today, almost everyone has a smartphone. Everyone except my grandparents, who still use a rotary phone. There is an app for just about everything. Parents use their phones to pay bills, shop online, engage in social media, play games, and much more. You are simply asking parents to download an app tied to your program allowing them to engage in their child’s day.
Parents will be able to see when their child was signed in or out and by whom. They’ll know which classroom their child is in when coming to pick them up. Parents will also receive and pay their weekly/monthly bill directly from their phone. And, for those with younger children, parents will be able to actively engage in a child’s day through daily sheets, updates, and photos shared by the teacher. By using this app, you are simplifying their interactions with you. Here is a quick rundown of the Parent App.
“I don’t want to spend the money.”
This ties back to number 1. Yes, a new solution will cost money. Everything costs money, unfortunately. A small monthly or yearly fee could save you and your staff up to 10 hours every month. You, or your staff, could use that time to work on other projects or to jumpstart your social media channels. If a system reduces administrative work on billing and inputting sign in-out or daily sheet data, you need to ask yourself: Is that worth the trade-off?
Kinderlime offers a free 14-day trial so you can test the value of the solution before committing to it.
“We have a system. Why would we switch?”
Great! You are already ahead of most programs in this space. If you like the system, find it affordable, and believe it works well for your program, then there’s no need to switch! However, if you are experiencing some issues or would like to see a demo of our mobile-based solution, you can request one here.
“Paper is great! I love paper!”
I don’t think anyone is going to believe you…
Do you have any other common objections to childcare software or childcare apps? If so, please feel free to share with us! We will address them in a following blog article and would be happy to address any of your concerns directly.
Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday that can be sadly overshadowed by the gift-giving season. My foodie friends, fear not! We at Kinderlime have collected ten Thanksgiving-themed treats for your students. Click on the links to view the recipes, and enjoy!
If you thought the time for pumpkin spice was over, think again! One bite of these pretzels, and you’ll want this spice to stick around for a while yet. You can also try coating the pretzel bites with other flavors for more variety with your snacks.
If fruit salad isn’t your style, try some fluff. Cranberries can have a very tart flavor, but this recipe uses a not-too-sweet cream mixture to even out the tartness and make everyone want to come back for seconds.
These cookies have just a few ingredients and require almost no time to make. Try having your students make the recipe themselves by setting up a cookie-making table. I’m sure they’ll love both making and munching on the mini-cornucopias.
We hope you try out at least one of these recipes and see what your students think. If your childcare is part of the Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP), you can also keep track of your students’ meals by using our CACFP meal tracking features. Use Kinderlime to generate an accurate and fully-compliant report so that you can receive the aid you need for giving your children these wonderful meals each day.
Enjoy the Thanksgiving holiday with good food and loved ones!
Most daycares, childcares, and afterschool programs still use paper and pencil to record the total hours worked by their employees. When I worked at a daycare, I recall having to fill out a paper timesheet every day for checking in, checking out and transitions. Often I, along with other staff members, would forget to check in on the timesheet. By Friday, I would be so dazed that I could barely remember what I had for breakfast, let alone the exact time I came in and left throughout the week. So I would fill in estimated times, rounding to the nearest quarter-hour. Now, that didn’t affect me much, but for an owner or director with multiple staff members, this could end up costing hundreds or thousands of dollars a month!
If you’re in the same boat, it’s time to make your life easier by incorporating a little technology.
It’s important to know how long your staff works each day and each week. Not only so you can pay them appropriately, but so you can track expenses and accurately plan out your budget for the next year.
Our staff timeclock feature enables staff to punch a unique 4-digit code in order to track their time down to the second. This is done via the same pinpad that parents use to sign their children in and out. Each timestamp is tracked in real time on the administrator’s dashboard for added visibility. Here are a few timeclock and payroll tips for your program.
As an owner or director, you may constantly be looking for opportunities to save. With more insight into your classroom ratios, you can cut down on costs every week.
Depending on what type of program you run (daycare, preschool, or after school), the required ratio ranges from 1:5 to 1:20. Our system allows you to track the raw data, as long as the students and teachers/staff are properly signed in and out. You can then use this data to determine how many staff members you need at your childcare at any given time of day.
As children begin to funnel out of their rooms at the day’s end, you can check our Student-Teacher Ratio feature. You have the ability to calculate the ratios across all classrooms and determine which need to be adjusted. If you see a classroom that has dwindled down to four children, yet still has two teachers present, you can send one of the teachers home for the day. Over time, you may see a similar pattern occurring in specific classrooms and can schedule your teachers accordingly.
If you’re interested in tracking student-teacher ratios but don’t know where to start, request a demo with us. Learn how Kinderlime Childcare software can help save you time, cut operational costs, and make running your program much, much easier!