Daycare Archives - Kinderlime

What Smart Afterschool Programs Have in Common

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.

Planning.

Afterschool Planning

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.

Staff

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.

Need help finding these types of staffers? Here are a few ideas on what to look for when hiring great afterschool staff.

Survey

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

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*).

Activity Planning

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.

Implementation

Make sure you have the correct staff in place and be sure everyone knows their part to play. Here is a detailed guide on how to create and implement afterschool activities.

Marketing

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!

11 Ways to De-Stress Over the Holidays

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!

  1. 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. Reading to De-Stress
  2. 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!
  3. 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 pretty incredibly 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.
  4. 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. De-Stress & Relax
  5. 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.
  6. 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!
  7. 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
  8. 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. 
  9. 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… Freedom & Dancing
  10. 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.
  11. 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. 

If you are feeling stressed, anxious or depressed this holiday season, please know that this happens to many people. Know that you are an amazing, unique individual with a lot to offer the world. You matter. Here are a couple articles that could help you; Stress, Depression and the Holidays: Tips to Cope, Mayo Clinic; Holiday Depression and Stress, Behavioral Health Services North. If it is more severe, please call the Samaritans 24-hour hotline at (212) 673-3000.

More Resources

“What Do Teachers Really Do During The Holiday Break?” by Lisa Hollenbach

“10 Fun Ways to Rest, Relax and Recharge Over Winter Break” from ClassroomDirect.com

“Top 5 Ways to Really Relax These Holidays (Without Alcohol or Yoga” by Lisa Cox

“9 Ways to De-Stress This Holiday Season” by Leta Shy

“7 Tips to Relieve Holiday Stress” by Connie Bennett

Common Objections to Childcare Software

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.”

Grandma-Cookies-Childcare software

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…

Drowning in paper - childcare app

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.

Make your Childcare Spooktacular!

Arts and crafts activities are a great way to get your children into the Halloween spirit. Kids can flex their creativity while also learning about measuring, hand-eye coordination, colors, sensory experiences, and more. While most of these craft ideas are meant for children (and for those of us who are children at heart!), several of these crafts are suitable for toddlers.

I’ve compiled a list of 66 total activities from various craft- and child-oriented blogs. Be sure to click on the links and see what other projects these awesome bloggers have in store for you!

1) Shruti, writer of Artsy Crafsty Mom, lists
20 Fun and Frugal Paper Plate Crafts for Halloween.

Paper Plate Crafts for Halloween

2) Jackie Cravener lays out 16 Handprint and Footprint Crafts for Kids
on her blog i heart arts n crafts.

Hand and Footprint Halloween Projects

3) Melissa, from This Girl’s Life, has an eye-popping tutorial
for making a Popsicle Stick Frankenstein.

Popsicle Stick Frankenstein

4) Check out Kelly’s boo-licious 25 DIY Halloween Decorations
from Idea Stand.

25 DIY Halloween Decorations

5) If you’d like to try One Little Project at a Time,
refer to Debbie’s wonderful tutorial on Yarn Pumpkins.

Yarn Pumpkins

6) Little Bins for Little Hands can show you how to create Fall Slime,
a sensory-packed science project that kids will love.

Fall Slime Science Project

7) Ever wanted to make Paint Drip Monster PotsMichelle’s blog,
Crafty Morning, has the perfect activity for you.

Paint Drip Monster Pots

8) Shaunna from Fantastic Fun and Learning describes an easy
Leaf Sun Catcher project for your toddlers and preschoolers.

Leaf Sun Catcher

Make sure you capture the fun using our Daily Sheets and Parent Communication app! Send parents messages and photos as the children bust open the glue and glitter. By the end of the day, parents will be super excited to see their children’s finished products. For a real showstopper, you could also keep the crafts for an extra day and decorate your childcare center for the children and parents to enjoy.

8 Frightfully Fun Costume Ideas for Teachers

Who says kids get all the tricks and treats on Halloween? Try one of these costumes with some fellow teachers (or on your own) to give the kids a spine-tingling surprise!

1) Silent Movie Stars

Black and White

2) Riley’s Emotions from Inside Out

Inside Out
3) A Windswept Pedestrian (no wind involved)

Windy

4)  Your Favorite Disney Princess
Disney Princesses
5) Witches from Hocus Pocus


Hocus_Pocus

6) Your Favorite Candy

Candy

7) Classroom Supplies (if you couldn’t get enough of them!)

Classroom Supplies

8) The Rainbow Fish

Rainbow Fish Costume

We hope these ideas get your cauldron bubbling! Allow parents to share in the fun by sending pictures and messages throughout the day using our parent communication app. All of the pictures can be saved in the photo gallery so you can preserve these memories or include the best moments in your seasonal newsletter.