Summer’s ending, the leaves are changing, and that crisp autumn air is filling our lungs. Winter is just around the… okay, let’s not think about that just yet. My favorite pumpkin-filled season is here and it’s time to take advantage!
Hands-on learning is one of the best ways for children to explore. Try adding these creative crafts to your repertoire:
Take a nature walk. There’s no better way to expose children to nature than by taking them to a nearby park or hiking trail. It will give the kids some exercise and you can turn this into a learning experience about why we have seasons.
Scavenger hunt. While you’re all out walking, take the opportunity to create a scavenger hunt — or plan one in your backyard! The kids will love looking for acorns, different kinds of leaves, pine cones, and more. This is a great paired or group activity. You could even have a little competition!
Leaf piles. I couldn’t leaf this one out. When spotting a big pile of leaves, I think back fondly to memories of jumping in with a big grin on my face. Of course, now I realize how dirty these piles can be… but that doesn’t mean the kids can’t enjoy them! If you run a home daycare and rake your leaves, leave them out for the children.
Apple Orchard. Especially in the Northeast, it’s common practice to take students to the nearby apple orchard and go apple picking. Usually that consists of hay rides, drinking apple cider, and an all-inclusive day with parents.
Pumpkin Patch. You can find these just about anywhere during the month of October. You may even find a few pumpkins at the apple orchard. Whatever the case, have your students pick out a small pumpkin so you can set up a time for pumpkin carving later that week.
Corn Maze. In more suburban areas you can easily find a corn maze designed with kids in mind. It is a scavenger hunt as well as a game to get out of the maze. This may be a handful with many children, and is perhaps an activity geared towards children over 8, but it offers a challenge to students who love stretching their problem solving skills.
As a teacher or leader of a field trip, you most likely have that nagging worry forcing you to count every child every 30 minutes. Learn how this childcare app can help you manage student attendance on the go.
That pumpkin spice blend is here for the next 3 months. I know you secretly love it – so embrace it! Here are a few delicious recipes guaranteed to satiate any picky eater:
You could also create an a la carte style snack for students. Start with a few healthy fruit base options like apples, grapes, and pears. Then have bowls out with a variety of toppings, like cinnamon, honey, peanut butter, pumpkin spice flavoring, and more.
Photo Capture Childcare App
Don’t forget to capture all the fun moments with Kinderlime’s Childcare App! This app allows you to capture images or videos and securely send them to parents. Show parents how much fun their children are having this autumn.
Listen as Fraser Speirs and co-host Bradley Chambers review Kinderlime on the Out-of-School Podcast. You can check out the full podcast here.
The Kinderlime review begins at time 16:15.
Brainerd Baptist found Kinderlime at last year’s NAIS (National Association of Independent Schools) conference. After some discussion, they implemented the Kinderlime apps within their program. Here is a small excerpt from the review by Bradley Chambers:
“What I wanted to talk about the day was a new solution we rolled out called Kinderlime and what Kinderlime is it’s really at its core is like daycare management software…. So we’re using it for our afterschool care which, different schools do it different ways, but for us it’s a prettydecent revenue generator….
“What problems does it solve for us?
“Number one, it solves a billing tracking problem. So what we did in years past is parents when they kids who come into aftercare is a paper notebook teachers would write their name their grade or what have they checked in and the parents would initial when they picked them up. So then you have to get that into something that can be billed to the parent and that was paper. And what we would do in years past is we had someone to manually calculate all that up and we would apply it to their FACTS account. They use FACTS billing management software so it would be applied as an incidental and that’s not perfect because it is time consuming and it’s manual so there can easily be errors and there can be discrepancies such as, “I was here an hour before that.” So now everything is tracked to the minute and there are no questions about that anymore. So there’s one problem it solves for us.
“Number two is it solves a security problem. It’s not that we had an issue with this before but we’re just trying to get out ahead of it. And so basically the way it works is each parent or caregiver as it’s own in the system is assigned a pin and it’s a four digit pin that is randomly generated and emailed to them and that’s the pin they use to pick up. So when they come in the home in the school there’s somebody sitting there with an iPad. And that happened there when they choose a child to pick up a child. That generates an e-mail to all caregivers on the account. They’ve been picked up and then that you know they’re able to proceed with getting their child. That’s huge. You can verify that this is someone who they say they are. Because we have sent “permission to pick up” forms, but things change with every parent and maybe that person can’t do it anymore. I love the e-mail notifications as well because my wife knows when I’m heading home because she sees that I picked up our kids. You can create additional pins like parents going there, additional parents, grandparents or friends. There’s even a carpool section. So let’s say I have a neighbor whose kids I pick up. Well in the system they can allow me to pick up their kids with my pin. They don’t have to give me their pin and I don’t need to remember two pins. Parents can all do that on their own.
“Also, from any iPad that has the Kinderlime app – and we have four iPads that we’re using for Kinderlime – we can see what kids are in what rooms at any given time.And so as kids move around the after care, for example if they’re in a playground for a little bit and they come and go to the gym they are moved around in the system. So what that solves let’s say there was like a fire drill or there was a fire that was an issue we have a digital copy of who’s supposed to be where and who is where.
“The last problem this solves for us is parents knowing where their child is when they get to campus and that seems trivial. But we have a building that’s quite large. I believe it’s 100,000 square feet – quite a large building and especially in the winter or if it’s raining they can be a multitude of places. Obviously, right now it’s pretty outside most of the kids are just on the playground. There’s basically two rooms they’re in. But when you start getting cold they may be in the gym, they may be in the cafeteria, they may be in this room. There could be maybe seven rooms they’re in. And what happens is if a grandparent was showing up they might come in the front school (main entrance). We would have no idea where their kid was at. We knew they were probably here. We just had no idea where.
“Now you just have to say, “OK. We have no idea where they’re at…let’s go find them,” and walking around school, are they at the playground? No. Me as a parent I’ve been in that situation I’m trying to find my kids. I don’t know what room they’re in. So the cool thing is now so along with the pin codes parents get an app registration code. And what this is they can download the Kinderlime Parent App and when they get to school they can pull up their app and see exactly what room their kid is in. ….”
Goodman Oaks is a free, Thursday-only childcare service that has been operating for 30 years. Children ages 3-5 attend the program to get acclimated to the school environment before kindergarten. They have been, and continue to be, a staple in their community. In several cases, generations of families have passed through their doors, showcasing the trust they have built within their community.
We have had the pleasure of working with Goodman Oaks going on 5 years. Program Director Alan Underwood was kind enough to share his experience with Kinderlime.
Like most schools, Goodman Oaks was using standard paper sign in-out sheets along with a paper list of approved guardians. The process was tedious. Teachers were forced to take additional time to properly store and track attendance information at the end of every month.
The list of approved guardians also proved to be time-consuming. It involved asking all unfamiliar faces to show proof of identification with a photo ID. This would delay the sign in-out line while distressing grandparents and close family members. The children’s safety is and has always been a top priority; however, this process may have made some feel unwelcome, which is far from what Goodman Oaks represents.
While struggling with these problems, Goodman Oaks received a recommendation for Kinderlime from another childcare program. After a brief demonstration of the product, they decided to give it a try.
A few app downloads and a quick webinar was all it took to get started. Alan and the teachers now had the ability to track attendance with the push of a button.
Parents also downloaded the Parent App, enabling them to see updates for their child, to view their pin code and to communicate directly with teachers.
Benefits from Day One
When asked how the Sign In-Out app helped change their program, Alan highlighted how Kinderlime established a sense of security as parents dropped off and picked up their children. Referring to issues around maintaining a parent list, Alan prefers the simplicity of the unique 4-digit PIN codes given to all parents and guardians. As pin codes are entered on the Sign In-Out app, student attendance is tracked and recorded. Parents also receive a notification when their child is picked up by anyone other than themselves. Parents LOVE the added security. They know exactly when their child was dropped off or picked up, and by whom.
Kinderlime’s attendance tracking is in real-time and viewable by parents, the teachers, and the administrators. Alan can now easily monitor trends and ratios, or track which child has missed multiple weeks in a row. In several such instances, Alan calls to check in on the child and family. “It enables me to be more actively engaged with the families we serve.”
An added bonus was the ability to clearly dispute any potential disagreements with evidence, should any come about. In fact, not too long after implementing Kinderlime, an issue arose with the dispute between a child’s parents. Luckily, Kinderlime was able to track pin codes and ensure the potential problem never escalated.
We are happy to serve the Goodman Oaks Thursday School and many others in our customer community. We strive to make our childcare app easy to understand and ensure that our customers have an enjoyable experience.
You have a lot to worry about when running a daycare. It’s hard enough keeping them fed, clothed, and within your sight. But the most important thing to always be conscious of is their safety. Here are some of the most common daycare safety mistakes and quick fixes if you are experiencing any of these pains in your program.
Falling Objects & Curious Toddlers
Children love exploring. They are not intentionally trying to escape your sights, but sometimes, they manage to sneak away. When they do, children are open to the rest of your home or daycare space. That mean if gates are not put up, or if the area is not properly secured, there is potential for them to get hurt.
Ensure all your bookcases and shelves are secured to the wall. A few screws in the top of the bookcase is an easy solution. Shelves should be out of reach whenever possible and items on these shelves should be secure. Cabinets should have self-locking latches. These are some of the most common reason children are injured.
If you have the time, here’s an intensive guide to falling object safety procedures and other child and daycare safety hazards.
You don’t need the floors to be so clean enough you can eat off of them. Of course we all know those children who will let nothingstop them from eating that hair-infused hot-dog slice, so clean floors would be a positive. It may not be a bad idea, for your own self health, to have hand sanitizer and disinfecting wipes scattered throughout your daycare. However, this relates more to the general organization of the area. Do the children have cubbies? Is there a designated toy chest? Is there a designated “clean-up” time?
These small changes can get you on your way to an organized and clean daycare environment.
Not only are you preventing any unnecessary injuries, but you are creating a presentable environment for the parents. They will be impressed with your organization and attention to detail. They may even come to envy you. Word of mouth spreads fast in this community of parents. Make sure you leave a lasting impression.
Lack of Clear Parent Communication
Transparency is essential.
In the event anything happens, you need to have a plan to contact the parents and vice versa.
Say a parent is drawn away for whatever reason and needs to send someone last minute to pick up their child, they need to inform you. But what if they forget? You wouldn’t let their child go with someone you’ve never met before.
If something should happen at school, from a sick child who needs to be picked up immediately to an earthquake and everything in between, you need to have a way to connect with parents directly. Sometimes texts and email are better received than a phone call. So how would you be prepared to handle the children and notify all the parents at once?
Rather than you calling or receiving dozens of calls at once, daycare apps, like Kinderlime, offer the ability to notify all parents immediately in the event of such an emergency. Saving you and the parents headaches in the process.
Well Documented Procedures
Most Daycare programs are home-based small programs serving their friends, family, or local community. Many of these programs are lacking a simple documented set of procedures. Everything from “What happens if a parent is late to pick up their child?” to “What if an earthquake, flash flood, or an other emergency were to take place?” should be addressed. Parents should know what to expect. An ambiguous plan is an immediate red flag and will keep parents away from your program.
View this checklist to see how you can best organize and create a quick booklet of procedures. Parents love a childcare owner who has contingency plans in place. It conveys how important their children are to you and establishes trust they won’t find with the average daycare center. Are you up to the standard of today’s parents? This is what they look to avoid in a daycare.
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.