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!
Whether you are experiencing all-time attendance highs or a lull this year (hopefully not!), increasing attendance should always be top of mind for your afterschool or childcare program. Obviously creating the right environment and ensuring the students are getting the most out of your program is priority number one, but how do you fill those seats?
Analyze your Program
When looking to increase attendance, you must first take a look internally. What is working? What isn’t? Who is your target demographic? Do you provide a fun and secure learning environment for the students?
Parents want a well rounded program were their kids are learning, socializing, working with others, and having fun. If you cannot promote these qualities, you should look to make changes internally before looking to increase attendance. The happier your student’s parents are, the more likely they are to spread the word about your program.
Check out this guide we made to help you get started and boost your social media presence.
Here is a more in-depth look at how you can expand your program’s digital presence.
Make sharing easier for parents
Parents love the idea of sharing the accomplishments of their kids. Parents today are very active on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Simplify their ability to share and they will take advantage. Utilize the social media tips in this guide. You should aim to post fun photos, images, memes, quotes from students, and other creative content or blogs to inform and excite your student’s parents.
Make the afterschool activity feel inclusive. Allow both students and parents to get a sense of the activity, program, or club. If you have a larger program, it may be good to provide tours the first couple weeks of the program as well as the last few weeks to really show what your program has to offer.
After the tour, hold an ice cream social. Your current students and their parents will receive a great treat while your potential new students and their parents will have a chance to meet your current registrants and get a better sense of the program.
Offer more variety
Maybe your program is focused primarily around one activity, like soccer, painting, STEM, etc. If that is the case see tip 6.
If your afterschool program offers a number of activities, try to build variety among these programs. You want to ensure you reach kids of varying interests whether it be chess, cooking, or athletics. If your facility can handle multiple activities. Make your facility the one-stop shop for afterschool fun in your area. To figure out which activities to bring onboard, poll your current students or their parents. Find out what kind of activities they enjoy at home. Perhaps 16 kids love cooking or baking and creating new fun food. Maybe science, technology or gaming are an important part in several of your students’ lives. Be sure to poll available times as well. Would once a week suffice? Which day and for how long? Check out this article for attracting youth and building around a schedule. Use this to build another activity and bring in new students.
How to draw more interest if your program has one focus
For those afterschool programs with one focus, it’s important to highlight more than that sport or activity. Students who enjoy that activity will join, those unsure of what they like will need more than a poster or email around what the program is. This is where video and images take on an important role. Hire a local freelance photographer to take high resolution pictures throughout a normal day at your program. If possible, have them take short videos as well and compile them into a 30-60 second introduction video which you can spread across your social media channels, website, and share with parents.
Highlight the fun and excitement involved in the program.
Maybe interview a student about why they love soccer.
All kids want to be involved in a program if their friends are involved. Enlist the parents to help spread the word in exchange for discounts, free ice cream day, or action photos of their children having fun throughout the day. Get creative! Students will join if they see their friends having fun.
Your program is more than just the activity. You are creating a social emotional environment to help students build confidence, make new friends, learn a fun new skill, and learn how to work with others. All these skills will help them in the future – you are helping them today.
Make life easier for parents
Thanks to smartphones and all the apps available today, we all expect convenience. That means parents expect more out of afterschool programs. Luckily, there’s an afterschool app for that! Kinderlime’s afterschool software allows parents to pay online or via their phone. They can also sign in or out their child upon pickup to eliminate your need for timesheets. In addition, you can send out notifications or alerts directly to the parents phones and email.
Ensuring your students get the most out of your program is essential for growth. The best afterschool programs are the one who show passion for what they do and for the well-being of the students they have. Simple things like remembering all the students’ and parents’ names, having ice cream socials, and sending out thank you cards will ensure your program sees the same students year after year along with a bevy of new student interest.
Many of you know your way around Kinderlime. However, some of you may only use one or two aspects of our all-inclusive solution. This article is a brief introduction to the other smaller, yet highly commended, features for childcare and afterschool programs who would like to get more out of our childcare apps.
But here are a few lesser known and underutilized features of our system:
How do you currently track your teacher’s clock in-out times? Make your life a bit easier and start tracking with our staff timeclock.
Your staff will use the same pin pad as your parents to sign themselves in and track their time. No need for paper timesheets, you have an all-in-one system to track time and build staff reports.
With the staff timeclock you are able to track student-teacher ratios throughout the day based on on each classroom and check in-out times. Many states have different regulations regarding the maximum number of students per teacher, this will help you stay within those permitted ratios.
Attendance based billing for afterschool
Both parent-paid and state-funded afterschool programs rely on attendance tracking in order to keep your program open. This feature works in conjunction with our attendance tracking allowing you to easily convert student’s attendance into billing invoices and reports for either parents or investors.
This has helped many of our afterschool customers reduce their administrative work during audits and monthly and yearly reporting. In some cases, saving them days worth of work.
Many programs utilize our Newsletter feature to send weekly or monthly updates to the parents and guardians. This is a great way to inform parents of upcoming events, important dates, and more. Many programs use these Newsletters to showcase the fun their students are having, capture fun activities, and show parents why your program is best for the their child.
Newsletters can be a powerful tool to help inform parents and give them periodic updates. It can also be a great marketing tool to help spread your program to other families in your community. The digital copies make it easier to be shared on your social media channels and can be shared among parents. Parents are always looking for programs, the more readily available your material, the more likely you are to draw recognition and potential new families.
The Newsletter feature is synced up with parent & guardian contact information already in Kinderlime. All you need to do is create, select recipients, and send.
Thanks to some great suggestions from our current customers, we recently introduced the “Tags” feature to Kinderlime. You now have the ability to create new tags for tracking and quick access to children or families associated with those tags. For example, you could tag children with allergies, families who only pay for half-days, or parents paying by credit card. No more scrolling and searching individually. Simply create a tag and attach that to the appropriate children for quick accessibility later.
The Child and Adult Care Food Program (CACFP) funded by the USDA supports many child care providers and provides nutrition meals to millions of children across the country. Now, Kinderlime helps you reduce that CACFP paperwork by recording meals, providing meal counts and reporting it to your sponsors. We will help you be CACFP Compliant.
IMPORTANT REMINDER – Nonprofit 501c3 tax-exempt status
“To be tax-exempt under section 501c3 of the IRS, an organization must be organized and operated exclusively for exempt purposes set forth in section 501c3, and none of its earnings may inure to any private shareholder or individual.” (Check here for more).
What does this mean? It means ALL PUBLIC AFTERSCHOOLS QUALIFY (if a part of a public school) and some childcares may be able to file as nonprofits. Why is that important? This status will get you major discounts across most third party vendors, including Kinderlime, payment processors, and provide tax benefits.