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.
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.
More and more childcare programs are looking towards innovative apps to help run their sign in-out, billing, and daily parent communication. Their goal is simple. Find a solution that is easy to use, quick to understand, and solves their paper problems. In the past, there was one choice in childcare management, that was the older, in-house system, like Procare. Today, when looking for a solution to help manage your daycare, you have an option between new childcare management apps and older, in-house, childcare management systems.
So which is right for your program?
This article aims to break down the differences between childcare management apps and these older systems.
Modules v All-In-One
Traditional companies have modules. One module for a family database, another for sign in-out / staff timeclock, and a third one for family billing. Each of these modules are in their own silo, making it difficult for the information to pass between one another without technical guidance and backend maintenance. This usually means you need to go through extensive training or have a tech savvy staffer to help maintain the system.
Cloud based software does away with the need for buying these modules individually. Instead, with minimal training and no technical background, you can manage your daycare all in one place, via website or your mobile device. It’s one solution for everything you need to run your program.
“With the old system [we] spent hours doing error checks and fixing mistakes, but with Kinderlime the billing process was practically error free” – Paul, Administrator at NCC Preschool.
Local v Cloud Data
When you have all your student data sitting on your personal computer, keeping your student data secure costs you an expensive server, antivirus, technical expertise, and more. And if your server crashes? All your family billing data is lost in an instant. As a busy business owner, you don’t want to worry about IT and maintaining a server to prevent such a disaster.
Solutions, like Kinderlime, utilize a web and cloud-based daycare management offering – which is maintained on Amazon servers (the same servers used by Amazon itself and companies like Dropbox and in some cases banks as well). This means that if you have a power outage, all your information is secure and accessible when your power comes back on. There is no information stored on your phone or laptop, so should you lose either, you will not need to worry about the information being accessible to others.
Upgrades & Maintenance
Do you want to be responsible for paying for upgrades then upgrade it yourself? Probably not. That is the old model of management systems. These maintenance fixes and upgrades do not come cheap. This will require you to either contact your provider and schedule a time to fix your system, OR you will need to have the technical know-how to fix it yourself.
With cloud-based childcare apps, updates and maintenance occurs regularly at no extra cost to you. Issues are fixed much more quickly and typically fixed late at night as not to interrupt your daily use of the system.
Priced on a monthly or annual subscription basis. They require little to no upfront investment, only the license fee. For a small or medium sized childcare program with little technology budget, this option is typically better as everything is included in the monthly or annual subscription. For larger programs, with many locations, a solution like this could help centralize all your data making it easier to manage without the need to hire an extra IT personnel and no ongoing maintenance, upgrading, or support fees.
These systems typically require purchasing a perpetual license for a substantial upfront fee. There are no recurring license fees, but extra (hidden) fees may apply for implementation, support, maintenance and updates. Imagine your on premise software being out of date and upgrading it could be risky. You may have to upgrade your servers as well together with a potential of losing your data.
BONUS: Parent communication and apps
Everyone uses a smartphone now. Everyone expects access to everything via their phone. With this app, parents could communicate with you via their app and pay through the phone. Imagine seeing payments come in the next day after you send the invoices out. This is all made possible with instant communication and engaged parents, which comes easier when it is available on their phone. Parents view their balances and receive a notification on their phones when you send out tuition invoices. No more paper billing.
The approach to childcare management software has evolved. Daycares expect simplicity, all features included, and for companies to handle all the technical work. We agree and that is what we do. It allows you to focus your time and energy on what’s important to you, the children.
You can try the our childcare software for free by going online and just signing up for a Free 14-Day Trial. For an easy way to impress your parents, grow you business, and liberate yourself from difficult software, then try Kinderlime’s childcare apps. Manage everything in one place and take your daycare program to the next level.