Summer is in full swing. Are you running out of creative activities yet? Hopefully not. But here are a few ideas to keep you going through the summer and to help you capture these special moments to increase parent communication.
It’s Slime Time
What child doesn’t like slime? And how do you give them what they want, but without all the mess? Well, it seems slime has evolved quite a bit since my childhood. They now have mess free slime, which is perfect for any child no matter how messy they are.
Here is a video to create quick, easy, and safe slime for your kids to play with: Mess-free slime
Plant a Seed (literally)
**Before you begin, make sure to check your student’s’ records for allergies.**
This is a great outdoor activity (as it could be VERY messy).
You are teaching not only a fun useful skill, you also have the ability to teach them about growing their own food to give them a sense of appreciation for where their food comes from. They also make great gifts for parents.
No matter how old you get, it’s always fun learning about science and building something with your hands. Here are a few ideas to pique their scientific curiosity.
You can make this at home and bring it in. Make plain colored playdough and bring it in with different food coloring and plastic gloves for the kids. The kids will be able to make the playdough any color they want and have something fun they can take home and continue to play with.
Healthy Ice Pops
Who doesn’t like an ice pop in 90 degree weather? Here are some creative, and healthy, ice pop creations you can make with your students this summer. Or you can freestyle. Simply put out the ingredients, show them how to fill the mold, and let them be as creative as possible mixing any ingredients they want. What better way to get a student to eat well!
Have the children make one or two puppets using some items around the house. Have them create a story around their puppet(s) or have their puppets sing their favorite song. You can have endless hours of entertainment using puppets.
Water Day Activities
As a kid in a camp or childcare program, you live for water day. Nothing is better than running through a sprinkler, sliding down a slip-n-slide, having a water balloon fight or water balloon painting on a hot day. As for you, your students will be tired out at the end of the day, meaning you have a nice calm end to the day.
Photo Sharing & Parent Communication
Don’t forget to capture all your fun moments with Kinderlime’s Photo Sharingand Parent Communication App and share them directly with parents. Or put them directly on social media and attract new families to your program! Show them how much fun the students in your program are having and show them what makes your program unique.
In 2012, husband and wife team Jen and Hans Hartvickson set out to create Adventures in Writing Camp, a unique summer camp that is dedicated to teaching and building children’s confidence in writing.
As children’s book authors themselves, Jen and Hans brought a unique perspective to the camp. Jen, Hans and the AIW Camp team created a unique curriculum that helped campers entering grades 1 through 8, see how writing can be fun and expressive. Elementary campers learned through songs, games, and storytelling. The middle schoolers were exposed to technology and blog writing, and left AIWC with a blog they could share with the world.
Adventures in Writing Camp was constantly thinking outside of the box and looking for ways to get children excited about writing. They found that even the most hesitant writers gravitated towards technology and made that an integral part of their process. By the end of that first camp, each camper grades 2-5 had created and published their very own e-book. Today they have over 3,000 e-books, and 100 blogs published.
With a unique curriculum and fantastic staff, interest in Adventures in Writing Camp grew, and so too did Jen and Hans’ need for streamlining camp operations. One particular challenge faced was getting up-to-date camper information and rosters out to each of the site-directors and teams. The home office team spent hours formatting sign in-out reports, getting camper information out to teachers, and archiving the paper sign in sheets of previous campers.
The team prided themselves on offering the highest quality experience, and they knew there must be a better way. They had seen previously how technology had a huge impact on their summer camp through the use of e-books and blogs. They wondered if there was a digital way to improve the sign in-out and administrative side of Adventures in Writing Camp. After extensive research Hans found Kinderlime.
Right away Kinderlime’s camp software began to transform the camp. The Adventures in Writing Camp Team no longer had to deal with paper sign in-out sheets and paper rosters of children. The camp leaders could easily access their camp roster, child’s emergency contact information, and allergies on one device.
Instead of encountering long lines and chaos during the first day of summer camp, parents encountered Kinderlime. The camp software made sign in-out quick, easy, and mistake free. Parents loved how fast the drop off process became and appreciated the automated sign in-out messages that confirmed when their child was signed in or out. The camp software did so much more than just make the sign in and out process easy; it increased the parent’s confidence in having chosen Adventures in Writing Camp for their children.
Adventures in Writing Camp has always been about going the extra step. They found that using technology for writing is an incredible tool to not only teach children, but engage them. As with Kinderlime they found that it was not only a tool to help with attendance tracking and long sign in-out lines, but a way to also engage with parents and stand out as a camp that is truly special.
Justin is no stranger to the world of summer camps. He first started working at the Pav YMCA as a camp counselor his sophomore year of high school, and has been hooked ever since.
It’s hard for Justin to imagine a life without the Pav YMCA. His years working with kids at the YMCA’s summer camps have shaped who he is today. He fell in love with the rewarding environment that working with children created, and pursued his teaching credentials.
He is now working as an elementary school teacher, but still finds himself returning to the Pav YMCA every summer.
When you walk into the Pav YMCA’s summer camps, you immediately see why Justin has returned year after year. As parents and children walk in they are greeted by friendly camp counselors. Parents quickly sign in their children in seconds using the Kinderlime attendance app set up on tablets and iPhones.
After the quick sign in-out process, children are off to have a fun filled day. Campers have the opportunity to participate in many YMCA themed camps including healthy cooking, a drama camp where campers can write, act and direct their own movie, and even a camp where children can learn to scuba dive.
When it comes to summer camps, the Pav YMCA seems ahead of the game. The sign in-out process is anything but hectic, and the activities offered are incredibly unique and interesting. However, according to Justin, the Pav YMCA was not always this organized and innovative.
When Justin first started working as a camp counselor, he dreaded the parent sign in rush. Like many other summer camps, the Pav YMCA used paper sign in-out sheets. They tried to maintain some level of organization by giving each child their own paper daily attendance sheet, and using binders to separate campers by groups. However, with 200 campers coming through the Pav YMCA daily, the sign in-out process was simply chaotic.
The paper sign in-out process created long lines of parents waiting to sign in their child. Parents would become frustrated with camp counselors, and some would simply drop off their child without even signing in.
Staff struggled to manage the check in process, and wasted hours upon hours manually going through daily attendance sheets. There was no easy way to keep track of how many kids were signed into the program. Staff had to count the attendance totals, and find missed parent signatures manually.
Justin and his super team at the Pav YMCA managed, but knew there must be a better way. The Pav YMCA provided amazing camp programs; however, they felt their camps and counselors were overshadowed by the unorganized sign in-out process.
The Pav YMCA decided to try out Kinderlime’s Child Care Management Software, and to their surprise, it changed everything! Immediately the long lines for parent sign in disappeared. The sign in out process went from looking unorganized and hectic, to easy and enjoyable.
The camp counselors now had more time to connect with parents during the sign in-out process, and could focus more on camp planning, and less on attendance counting.
Kinderlime’s child care management software helped the Pav YMCA take their summer camps to the next level! Staff and parents immediately noticed how Kinderlime improved the sign in-out process, but as time went on, they experienced the true value of having a child care management software like Kinderlime.
Kinderlime not only helped with attendance tracking, and the sign in and out process, but became a useful tool to ensure the safety of campers.
While Justin never expects to have any accidents or problems on a camp field trip, he is comforted knowing that if an emergency ever occurs, he is prepared with Kinderlime. With his unique staff login, he is able to access campers’ allergy information, a picture if a child is lost, and parent contact information right from the Kinderlime app on his iPhone.
Justin’s director, Stephanie Robinson, is comforted by the fact that she has the ability to check up on her campers and counselors from practically anywhere. She can quickly access staff to child ratio, and see how many kids are still signed in to camp during closing time from anywhere at any time.
Kinderlime’s attendance tracking, sign in-out, and safety features have proven to be an irreplaceable tool for the Pav YMCA. Ever since Justin started as a camp counselor 8 years ago, he knew that the Pav YMCA provided a place where kids could learn, grow, and create memories that will last a lifetime. The themed camps and passionate counselors created an amazing summer for the campers, but Kinderlime’s Child Care Management Software filled in the missing piece.
With so many child care management software options available, the process of choosing a software that best fits your programs needs can be daunting. We have put together a few questions to guide you through the decision making process.
1. What are my goals?
When choosing a child care management software, the first thing you will want to ask yourself is “what am I looking to get out of this software?” Child care software’s vary in features. What is right for one program, may not be for another. This list below displays some of the key features offered by child care management services. Evaluate and choose the features that will help you achieve your goals.
Key Child Care Management Software Features:
Sign In and Out
Attendance Tracking and Reports
Staff Clock In-Out
Online Billing and Invoicing
Daily Sheets and Reports
Emergency Text Blasts
Food Program Records
Child health records
Wait List Management
2. What is my budget?
During the decision making process evaluate the importance of price. If cost is important, then decide which features you would be willing to give up for a lower price. Here are a few tips on coming up with a budget that works for you:
How much time and money will the software save you? Depending on the type of program you are running, various features will not only make your job easier, but actually save you time. Evaluate the amount of time you spend on certain tasks (attendance tracking, auditing sign in and out sheets, filling out daily sheets, ect.) Doing this will allow you to see the value of certain software features.
How much can you realistically spend? Regardless of the value of certain features, some software programs may simply be too pricey for your particular program. Decide on a maximum price you can afford.
Are there ways to save? Many child care software programs offer special discounts and deals. Be sure to ask your child care software of interest about any discounts available.
3. How easy is it to use?
.While every new program may have a small learning curve, you should not find the system extremely confusing to use. Using a child care management software is supposed to make things easier, not harder. To evaluate how easy the program is to use, try signing up for a free trial or request a demo.
Many companies provide the option of testing out their services to help in the decision making process. Be wary of companies that do not allow you to first test out your service. You want to make sure the software you chose will work for your program’s needs, and this is one of the best ways to evaluate this.
Depending on your programs needs and the size of your program, you may need the assurance that you will be provided top quality customer service. Here are a few things to keep in mind when evaluating the customer support options:
What methods of contact are provided (e-mail, phone, text, instant messaging)?
5. Do they listen to their customer’s needs?
The tech world has exploded over the last two decades. 20 years ago you would practically never find child care programs using a child care management software, but today it is an incredibly valuable tool used by many. As technology continues to develop, as do the needs of programs.
When deciding to choose a software program, investigate the growth of the company. Are they continually adding new features, or have they stayed the same? It is valuable to work with a company that values innovation, and is constantly listening to their customer’s needs.
If you find that a child care software does not have a feature you desire, let them know. This is a great way to gauge how they handle customer requests, as well as letting them know what features you desire.
6. What is the deployment of the child care management software?
When it comes to child care software companies, there are typically two options available: Web based or Installed.
Web based software runs on a web browser. You need an internet connection to access the child care software. This secure method of deployment allows for users to access their information from anywhere at anytime.
Installed software is installed on a particular computer or laptop. Some installed software may require you to purchase additional hardware or pay to add the software to multiple computers. If you are going with this method of deployment, be sure to check if any additional hardware or software will need to be purchased to avoid any surprise costs.
For further guidance on choosing a child care management software, please contact us.
Managing a child care is no easy task. The first time I ever stepped into a child care program I thought all I needed to know was how to work with kids. I quickly learned that while taking care of children is important, it is just the tip of the iceberg.
Child care directors, administrators and supervisors at times have similarities to superheroes. They are multitasking wizards, creative, energetic, and intelligent. They not only care for children, but manage parent communication, billing, budgets, attendance reports, staff, paychecks, programming, and so much more!
As many other child care providers have learned, we can’t always do everything ourselves, and can use all the help we can get. Thankfully, there are a few tools that help make child care management for any type of program a little easier.
Whether running a small or large child care program, properly keeping track of the money being put in and out of your program is absolutely necessary. In a small business environment this can become overwhelming. Thankfully, QuickBooks is a lifesaver when it comes to bookkeeping for successful small businesses.
QuickBooks provides an inexpensive small business software to help you keep track of every aspect of your child care program. This program provides a manageable way to keep track of your programs expenses, vendors, customers, staff payroll, and any other financial aspect of your program. And it’s easy to roll up your finances during tax time.
The paperwork and time that goes into managing a child care center can seem endless. Kinderlime is a child care management tool that will make your life much easier. It helps child care providers easily manage billing, attendance tracking, staff time sheets, daily infant sheets, parent communication and more. Kinderlime is an extensive and flexible tool, making it perfect for almost any type of child care program.
When it comes to running a child care program, payroll is just another task that takes away from the time you would like to spend with your customers and kids. Paychex helps simplify payroll for small businesses. They provide the option of doing payroll online anywhere at any time, or working with your local Paychex team.
SurveyMonkey is one of the best tools out there to gain feedback from participants, parents, teachers, staff, and anyone else who is involved in your programs success. Survey Monkey provides their own customer satisfaction survey templates, or lets you create your own. It allows for individuals to easily respond to your survey anonymously, giving you wonderful feedback that can greatly improve your child care program.
Whether you are running a childcare, preschool or after school program, you will likely deal with the daunting task of getting paperwork and documents signed. HelloSign provides a highly secure and easy to use e-signature service. E-signatures make hiring new staff, completing program applications, and signing monthly reports much easier.
When you think of LinkedIn, you may simply think of a place to network or find a new job. While LinkedIn can help in those areas, it also is a great tool to help improve your program’s success. Join child care groups to share ideas with other thought leaders in the child care field. Groups can also be a great opportunity to propose questions on challenges you may be facing within your program.
Aside from the strong support system you will find on LinkedIn, you also can explore and find insight into trainings, classes, articles and more about the child care field. LinkedIn has the potential to be an effective tool not only for networking, but for personal growth.
As a supervisor of a child care program I found myself constantly scanning and faxing documents. The fax machine was often being used by someone else, and the scanner was always seeming to give me problems. Thankfully, I finally discovered the ScannerPro.
The app turns your phone into a portable scanner. To use the app you simply need to take a picture of the document you would like to send and the app formats the document into a PDF file that is easy to send and read. This app is not only helpful for running a child care program, but one that you will find using in your everyday life as well.
Pinterest is a childcare provider’s best friend. Not only is it extremely addictive and fun, but it is also a helpful resource for childcare providers. By searching childcare keywords, and following your favorite boards, you can discover ideas for activities, classroom setup, parent communication, classroom management, and practically anything else you may need some extra help and inspiration for. Easily organize your favorite ideas by creating your own Pinterest board.
Google Drive is an incredible tool for file storage and collaborating. As a child care director or administrator you may find yourself traveling from site to site. With Google Drive you can be assured that you can access your important documents from wherever.
Google Drive is also a great tool for collaborating on ideas. Share Google Docs or Spreadsheets to collaborate on your programs activities for the next month, plan spending, or to figure out staff availability. Along with Google Drive, you will find many other useful Google tools, such as Google calendar. These Google tools are easy to use and absolutely free.
Have you used any of these child care management resources? What are your favorite tools to use?