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.
The new school year is just around the corner. That means energetic students, new and old will soon be shaking off the summer and getting back into the rhythm of the new school year. Your afterschool staff members will be returning to the flow and structure of the afterschool program. But uh-oh, some of your staff will not be back this year, or maybe your enrollment has grown substantially since last year. So how do you fill these gaps and what should you look for when hiring for an afterschool staff position?
The biggest factor to consider is, of course, the students. Look to your current staff. What do the kids respond to best? How do your different staff members interact with the students? What are their personalities like?
These are the questions that will help you discern a strong candidate. Not all students will respond to all staff members, so you should have a healthy mix of personality types. While you may see that the enthusiastic, outgoing and younger staff tend to be more relatable to the children, you also have probably observed that the more experienced, calm staff members are often able to foster more respect and discipline. Identify the types of personalities that work well with the kids in your program and focus on finding that person before conducting the interviews.
Are they determined to help students learn and succeed? If you meet someone who may not have a lot of experience, identify what drives them. Ask them about their goals and what motivated them to work with students. You will be able to tell the passionate, driven individuals from those who are lackluster. Someone with the right attitude can learn how to adjust to the type of students in the classroom or activity.
Will they get along with the other afterschool staff? In other words, are they just “shy” or are they closed off and antisocial. How will that affect the rest of your team? Do they seem genuinely excited to start this job and to work with kids? One key thing to look for when the candidate answers questions, is how they are communicating nonverbally. If they are smiling and open throughout the conversation, or when they describe their personal experience with students, that may be the type of person with which you and your staff want to work.
Try asking questions about what they do for fun and see how they react to opportunities to build rapport with others. Have one or two of your staff members introduce themselves and get their opinion of the candidate. While the final decision may be yours alone, other staff members will be the ones working alongside them. These staff members could help point out certain traits (good or bad) that you may have missed about the candidate during the interview process.
Your goals align
Regardless of the type of program you run, look for those who will align with your goals of providing more than just academics. You could have a program focusing on a demanding academic schedule, if that is the case, you might want to find someone with similar interests in mind. That being said, since afterschool programs are essential to the development of social and emotional growth as well, a new hire should also be concerned with growing their students into someone who can handle the emotional and social aspects of situations; fighting, sharing, making friends, etc. So make sure you ask questions around their style of teaching to get a sense of “alignment”.
Experience – how important is it?
Experience is important when it comes to handling certain situations that arise. Surely a candidate with even 2-3 years of experience has seen enough chaos to know how to handle most common situations. But consider more than experience, also consider attitude and education. Many people in your local community have been to school to study subjects that can be quite valuable such as psychology, child behavior, education, nursing, etc. Look for someone who has a degree, whether it be high school, GED, or higher education. They had the determination to take courses that required them to listen, learn, problem-solve, cooperate with others and meet deadline – they may be more successful in helping others attain those qualities.
Some questions to ask when hiring:
When asking questions, try to ask as many situational questions you can for the role you are filling. Here are a few examples:
What would you do when an unhappy parent approaches you about the lack of attention their child is receiving?
What would you do if one of your students started having an allergic reaction to something?
How would you respond if a student were acting out during a quiet work time?
You are assigned a group of children who are a bit more rowdy than is productive. At a high level, what are your thoughts on how to manage this type of situation long term?
How would you handle a situation where a child is being consistently disrespectful to you?
How would you work to engage all children in learning or activities with regard to students who are different development levels?
Two children are fighting over a toy, how do you handle the situation?
You see a child push another child, what actions do you take?
A child is not engaging in any of the activities, how do you get them to be more involved?
Best of luck with your hiring this Summer!
Need help keeping track of your afterschool staff?
Check out Kinderlime’s afterschool staff timeclock feature in our Sign In-Out tool. Track your staff time & ratios, plan your staffing, generate timesheets & payroll reports all in one place.
While finishing up the school year, it’s easy to slip into the state of summer dreaming. That summer trip to the beach, the camping trip, and all those wine spritzers. But don’t forget about all the work next year will bring. Your job will still be there next year and that includes ALL the fun paperwork ready to bombard you from day 1.
How do you prevent yourself from falling into the same pattern? How do you break the cycle and give future you a break from anarchy?
While finishing up the year, make sure you reserve some time to think about the start of the next year – these 4 tips come from afterschool directors, program coordinators, and Kinderlime:
New Students. You probably have a process in place for the new wave of students who will join your afterschool program either this summer or next year. Comb it over. Make sure the onboarding process is as simple and as intuitive as possible. You were inevitably asked a few specific questions at the start of this past school year. Add those answers to your welcome newsletter, email, or packet.
Speak with colleagues. Speak with the head of your afterschool program, or the rest of your team, around what they expect for the upcoming year. Make sure you are all on the same page. Expectations and procedure should all be smoothed out on both ends. You want to ensure a smooth transition into the following year
Additionally, speak with colleagues at other afterschool programs. Find out how they approach the new school year and some of the tips, trick, tools they use to ensure everything runs smoothly. They may have some ideas or tools which could benefit future you.
Technology is constantly being created and enhanced for a reason. To HELP you. Your phone is now your all-in-one tool. You use a computer, because typewriters are exhausting and paper is impractical. So why not try to enhance aspects of your job and your afterschool program to make your life (and the lives of your staff and parents) easier.
Afterschool management software companies, like Kinderlime, were designed with you in mind. We provide program management to help minimize paperwork and streamline the nuances of your program allowing you to focus on the things you love about your job. We want to help future you just a little bit happier and more satisfied in your work.
The most important thing to do before the school ends is to treat yourself. You work tirelessly to ensure they have this program aimed at building their character, connecting with their peers over a shared passion, and providing a place for them to learn and have fun. You are doing a great thing for the families in your community. Keep that in mind as you look towards that summer vacation. You are making a difference and you deserve to treat yourself.
Go into the new program year prepared, confident and reinvigorated. Prepare for the things you CAN handle. There will always be little fires sprouting up, but nothing you can’t handle in the moment.
“Confidence is preparation. Everything else is beyond your control.” – Richard Kline
Gone are the days of passing out registration forms, arduously collecting them back from parents in a timely manner, then collecting checks or cash which you then need to sort out and type up later. You don’t have time for that, you’re trying to run your afterschool program and spend time with students!
Our new Online Registration system does away with this entire manual paper process. We aim to free you up to focus on other, more important aspects of your program.
Simply edit the form with any additional fields to fit the information you need. Send it out along with the fees associated, and any other notification or acknowledgement forms. Parents can pay online or via their phone and once the form is filled out, all the registration information that you need is transfer to their profile within Kinderlime.
In the event you already have a billing or student information system, no need to worry! We are have direct integration available for those systems.
If you have any questions regarding our Registration System, our Sign in-Sign out, Billing & Reporting, or Parent Communication features, please feel free to visit our website and schedule a demo with one of our customer success team members.