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Corrinne Cloake, Dennison Street Early Learning Centre

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The childcare industry has a number of beautiful people that have made a career out of what is clearly a passion; the early education and care of children. For many this extends into relationships with students that span from childhood into early adulthood. Corrinne from Denison Street Early Learning Centre is one such person. A career spanning some 22 years her very first students, who are now in their early 20’s, are now sending their children to be cared for by Corrinne and the team at her centre. Kidsoft caught up with Corrinne to get an insight into some of the highlights of her career over the years.

What initially attracted you to a career in childcare?
If you love what you do, you’ll never work a day in your life – as the quote goes. I found my calling with children and couldn’t imagine another career.

Tell us a little about Denison Street Early Learning Centre and your role there.
I have been with Denison Street for 20 years this year in October. I have worked my way through the ranks from room leader, to Director over a five year period, and studied my Bachelor of teaching to allow the centre to increase occupancy from 38 when I originally started to the 58 that we have today. I have been involved in building a community which I am proud of, I’ve worked through building and backyard renovations, changes and extensions as well as management and software changes.  

Gosh – that’s a lot of children over the years, some 1,000+! Do you still see any of them within your community? Your first year students would be in their early adulthood now.
This year we have 90 families and 120 children in our care. I am still in touch with a number of my children. One of the little girls I had in my first toddler room is now sending her daughter to Denison Street, so I’m now looking after her. Another family of ours is sending their sixth child to Denison Street. The children from when I first started are turning 18-21 this year!

I suspect this is rare for you, but if you had a full day off what would you do with it?
(insert laughing face!)  Try to link it to a weekend and have a weekend away.

What’s been taking up your days of late?
COVID – emotional and anxious educators and families. General chaos. 

How do you feel moving back to CCS will go, how are you preparing as a service?
I have to say everything Kidsoft is doing in the back end has been incredibly helpful as it saves us valuable time. I was talking to our operations manager and we were discussing how it had taken away a lot of things we would have previously had to worry about. 

We don’t have a crystal ball which is tough for planning as we’re not sure if families will come back as per their days pre COVID or if we should plan for a worst case scenario which would see 5-6 spots per day free. The questions that then come up are how does that affect us from a staffing level? We could be lucky and it all goes back to normal.

What is the most difficult part of your job?
Balancing all the roles (different hats) throughout the day depending on the given situation.

And what is the most rewarding?
Having amazing relationships within the Centre (children, families and educators) as well as the wide network I have within our local area. 

What drove the decision for Denison Street Early Learning Centre to look at changing CCS software providers?
Now that’s a long story! We originally had Squirrel and found it too hard to use and the software clunky. We then had a change of management companies and changed software providers to Qikkids. Qikkids did what we needed. We then had another management change, where I took on the role as Director and had the choice to change to Kidsoft or stay with Qikkids. I was initially opposed to Kidsoft knowing and having worked with the previous version. After some very in depth conversations with Peta from the Kidsoft team, and a trial we made the switch and haven’t looked back.

What has been your favourite thing about working with Kidsoft?
The people behind the product. They make it! Peta and Cassie (in recent years) have been amazing to work with. I am also happy that changes are made to suit the users, and that the Kidsoft team (whether it’s the developers or the rest of the team) are on track with current requirements and ease of use. 

How would you describe your upbringing?
Happy. I was raised in a nuclear family, my parents are still together and will be celebrating 43 years of marriage this year. I didn’t have things handed to me, I had help when needed but worked for what I wanted and that made the success all the better. 

43 years, that’s amazing, and such an achievement! Are you married? Do you have children?
Yes, I’ve been married since 2011 and we have a daughter. Our baby turns eight this month. She was in our care at Denison Street as I went to work full time from when she was five months old. She did a day to two days a week before school and as you can imagine is now part of the family.

Who would you say was your role model growing up?
Growing up – definitely my parents, and their strong work ethic.

And today, has it changed?
I gained a mentor in the industry when I started at Denison Street, he was the owner. Wolfgang inspired me to not only do better but to be better. To take challenges and learn from it, and to search for answers if I couldn’t find them elsewhere. He had a business sense that I haven’t seen rivalled and I learnt a lot from him.

What inspires you?
Loyalty and doing good for good sake. 

What’s your vice…
Sweet or savoury – Sweet
Caffeine, wine, Netflix binge and a good book trilogy.

Corrinne Cloake is the Director at Denison Street Early Learning Centre, a customer of Kidsoft since 2015.

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How To Make The Transition Back To School As Easy As Possible

How To Make The Transition Back To School As Easy As Possible

You know the feeling when you come off a roller-coaster and your body thinks you’re still moving? Coming out of lockdown and getting the kids back to school will feel like that. 

For some of us, this is good news – we need to get back to a routine, earn money and to stop ourselves from going crazy, but the big question is: are our children safe? Feeling safe is a basic human need – if we don’t feel safe, we resort to one of three emotional responses: fight the enemy, run from the enemy, or freeze, hoping the enemy will disappear! But Covid-19 will be around for a while yet.

Dust off your SUPER PARENT cape
A phased return may reduce some of the health risks because lower numbers will mean reduced contact, but a school environment still presents some risks, especially for young people with autistic or ADHD type additional needs. Here are seven savvy suggestions that may help:

#1. Talk positively to your child about returning to school. If you’re worried or angry about the decision, your mood will transfer to your kids, possibly creating anxiety issues in the future.

#2. Listen to your child’s fears. Are they worried about catching a virus, or a family member getting ill? If they’ve been bereaved during this period you may wish to consider some child-focused therapy to help them manage their feelings of grief and loss. If your child has enjoyed being at home and is nervous about going back to school, try to start the conversation about re-starting school as soon as possible. If you’ve had an awful lockdown experience, consider telling a teacher or school counsellor in confidence.

#3. Plan Together. Transition techniques: ‘First… & Then.’ Switching brain activity between different tasks can be challenging for autistic or ADHD kids. The First and Then technique help you explain with pictures or simple words, what’s happening now and what is coming next. “First you were at home during lockdown, then you will go back to school to see your favourite teacher/friends again.” Discuss school memories together, encourage your child to chat to their school chums about going back, making it a shared experience. List the positives of going back to school.

#4. Changing body clock. Sleeping and eating patterns have been disrupted during lockdown: kids may have been staying up late or sleeping in, been on screens for too long. They’re tired and wired. They may have missed key weekly activities and sports. Kids with ADHD may have been on and off their meds as you’ve struggled to cope with their energy levels. If your kid wears braces like mine, we’ve done home dentistry – most of the sterilising brandy went down my neck. Just as their body clock is adjusting to lockdown, the routine is changing again, which is stressful for everyone. Try creeping bedtime forward by fifteen minutes or encouraging them to wake up slightly earlier – it will make back to school a bit less of a shock.

#5. Dealing with trauma. The biggest issue by far is how our youngest people will cope with the collective trauma of a world that has changed. The anxiety of a hidden virus with no cure or being locked indoors in a difficult family situation will have been deeply troubling for some children. We can help our children by encouraging them to be kind and considerate citizens, talking to them about our sameness rather than our differences, encourage them to feel proud of their school community and not to spit or cough at each other or the teachers. Teachers, especially those who are parents or carers themselves, have the huge responsibility of getting our children back into learning after a long time away from the classroom. I have developed the CALM model to make it easier:

C – collaborative
A – adjustments
L – low stimulus
M – monitoring

Parents, teachers, specialists and children working together to help our children feel safe, confident and supported and more likely to apart and learn.

Adjustments or reasonable adjustments are adaptations to the school day that children with special educational needs are legally entitled to. Your child’s Education and Health Care plan is a good place to look at what Covid-19 era adaptations they may need, such as extra time for hand-washing or supervised access to hand-sanitiser.

Low Stimulus
Covid-19 era children will display a variety of anxiety signs at school. Schools may need to develop a designated ‘transition zone’ where anxious, or over-stimulated children can acclimatise to the school environment in a calm space and check-in with a member of staff.

Hopefully, teachers are already in regular dialogue with their pupils. Once the children are back, teachers and parents will need to monitor children’s progress closely – remembering to keep CALM.

Article by Suzy Rowland, founder of the #happyinschool project, for My Baba

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Kidsoft Onboarding Process

The roadmap for launching Kidsoft in your centre.
A bespoke, seamless migration process to ensure minimal downtime to your business.

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Phase One
Onboarding Workshop
Introduction to your customer success consultant. Together you will create a bespoke onboarding and training plan that meets your centres needs.

Onboarding Program
Your consultant will take you and your team through how to configure Kidsoft for your centre.

Phase Two
Data Migration
Importation of data by the Kidsoft team. Proofing and validation by centre.

Kidsoft LIVE

Phase Three
Staff Training
A dedicated Kidsoft consultant will be on hand 24/7 in your first few days to ensure you and your team become super users through on on one training, group sessions, and webinars.

Guardian Onboarding
Email communications and guides.

Phase Four
Ongoing Support
Kidsoft dedicated Customer Success team are available to contact 5 days a week for any questions you may have, or just a chat!
Assitional resources can be found in the form of written guides, video tutorials and regular masterclasses and events with our community to ensure your centre is getting the most out of the platform.

For more advice, or assistance please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Customer Support team.

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More CCM solutions with Kidsoft Child Care CRM

Is your centre full? If not are you wondering why?
With Kidsoft Child Care CRM you can easily follow up those enquiries that are potential customers. With Kidsoft Child Care CRM your business will become a hub of professionalism as admins can communicate more efficiently with parents and guardians, marketing becomes a non headache process and enquiries will be converted into enrolment. As a web based CRM, information can be collected easily so the sales process can be faster  as registrations become much easier for parents and guardians on the hop. Using our CRM will prevent those valuable enquiries slipping through the net. In any sales environment you must act on an enquiry as soon as possible, this really is a great centre sales and marketing solution.

More about Kidsoft Child Care CRM
Can you be really sure that the staff who take enquiries communicate effectively with parents and guardians? Another aspect of our CRM is the Child Care CRM prompts that work on every aspect of information that should be included in response messages.

Marketing can be an expensive process so it is important to put your dollars into efficient use. With this CRM you can track your leads, gain information like age groups, track FTE’s revenue, see waiting lists and also study other data that provides vital industry based metrics.

Whoever is employed in your centre to work in this area then all members will be able to see all information through the sharing stream. This avoids any miscommunication through employees and gives the enquirer an efficient service.

To avoid any staff member sending an email that may be interpreted in the wrong way i.e (not everyone has a marketing mind) we have an inbuilt automated process which is essential for any strategic ongoing marketing plan.

Finally, can you check your conversion rates from any of your promotions from last year? Another vital component of our Child Care CRM is that it can search back through the history and filter important data where decisions need to be made and you can see what needs to be improved.

For any further information on the Kidsoft Child Care CRM please don’t hesitate contact us.

Young children playing with educational toys

Child Care Centre Management

Young children enjoying in the playroom

There is now a huge demand for pre-school places which has increased the demand for child care centre management placements. In September 2015 there were around  1870 child care centre positions available. Our Australian Government currently spends just under $7 billion a year of which the majority supports families to have more affordable and quality child care. At the moment  1.57 million children go to some kind of pre-school so the demand for good, qualified managers is on the up.

Our team can advise and help you in all areas of managing your business. We are experts in childcare business management, new projects, Assessment and Rating, Quality Assurance, National Education and Care Regulations, National Quality Framework, Policy and Procedures Development, and Child Care Benefit administration. We offer a consulting service especially for this area of childcare career.

Below is a brief outline of what it takes to be a childcare centre manager.

The responsibilities of a manager are to oversee operations on a daily basis and training the teachers and assistants. They may be involved in the education program,, following the children’s progress and child development, day to day activities prep and general safety requirements.

The minimum qualification is a diploma in Early Childhood Education or alternatively a Diploma in Children’s services. You can improve your career by becoming a teacher with a Bachelor Degree.

If you would like to know more about getting onto this career path contact one of our highly qualified team here.

The team at Kidsoft can answer all your questions and advise you on the best way to move into management and be a success.

Some facts you may be interested to know:

Estimated salary

$55,000 P/A

Min estimated salary

$48,000 P/A

Max estimated salary

$61,000 P/A

Employment growth

 13% more Child Care Centre Managers will be employed in Australia in 2018 (compared to 2013)

Employment by region

The top three regions for working as a Child Care Centre Manager are:

  • NSW: 36.5%
  • QLD: 27.4%
  • VIC: 16.3%
Essential skills required
  • To be observant, active and in good health
  • Be able to take initiative and judge well
  • Accept responsibilities
  • Be a team player
  • Must be able to relate to children and form good relationships with parents.
  • Must be patient
  • Fit enough to lift, move equipment and lift children.
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Australia’s Unique Childcare Centre Management Systems

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Kidsoft can now offer you Australia’s unique childcare centre management systems suitable of all types of services across the board from long day care, before school care through to nanny pilot programs. Over the past 20 years Kidsoft has been a pioneer in developing management and technical solutions and now has developed the ultimate CCMS system that is not only a lower cost than our competitors but also offers an easy change over service.

Imagine have a superb platform that can take away many hours of hard work managing waiting lists, payments, enrolling, payroll, checking in kids, communication with parents and more.  We have even teamed up with Storypark which allows teachers and parents to assist in improving young children’s education. We also follow strict federal government guidelines and check on any changes weekly to ensure we are always legally updated.

For your convenience our training experts hold a series of FREE training webinars where you can join up and discover how easy and quickly it is to get started. Each webinar content is around an hour and offers you the opportunity to see all the Kidsoft features, how the function and how you can use them. There is always an interactive question and answer chat at the end of each one so you fully understand. All you need is a computer, internet connection and some speakers. The next available webinars are on the 28th June – New Client LDC OSHC, 29th June – New Client FDC, 30th June – iCheckin and iParent App Demo and also 30th June – New Client LDC OSHC. Just click on the webinar link above and it will direct  you straight to the check in.

We very often speak at conferences all over Australia, sponsor and host events so follow our webinar page to keep up to date. Everything we do at Kidsoft is aimed at easier management solutions for both centres and parents alike. Our aim is to improve and grow your business into a slick operation saving you time and money.

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How we Build the Most Dynamic Childcare Businesses

Basically it is down to our 25 years plus experience how we build the most dynamic childcare businesses and centres.  Our company is totally dedicated to making sure that the business itself and staff are going to deliver the up most enjoyment and solutions for our children in their early years through their transition into school.

We are fortunate to have a the best in the business who completely want to improve the ongoing challenges that centres and staff faced in childcare. As we have rapidly grown and always gone that one step further we have been able to place highly experienced Operations Managers in all territories. We feel that these managers can provide the important training and guidance across the whole of Australia.

We have total knowledge and understanding of how a childcare businesses of today should be managed and what facilities they should have as well as important staffing issues. We ensure our clients that we will deliver everything they need literally from the ground up. Our management services are used to working to a tailor made program as all our clients are individual.r

We are lucky to have some of the most amazing, dedicated and experienced staff on the team who have helped our clients achieve the most incredible curriculum results as well as return of investment. Our years of experience, dedication to the children of Australia and the training we offer the staff is resulting time and time again in success all round.

If you wish to achieve a successful, childcare business that comply’s with all Government guidelines and has the experience of our child care management team behind you then contact us here.

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Essential Software Systems for Parents and Clients

Mum, Dad and baby on mobile and tablet

We have become a strong leader in essential software systems for parents and clients for over the last 20 years. Our innovative software are cloud based and work out financially cheaper than direct software installation from our industry competitors. All our CCMS systems are also globally accessible.

Imagine being able to offer parents the opportunity to manage everything to do with their child’s childcare from their mobile device! Our iParentPortal app helps busy parents who are usually well organised keep up to date all the time especially when some days things change due to their busy schedule. This superb portal allows guardians to get feedback, receive important documentation, make and change bookings and also manage payments. At Kidsoft we understand how important it is for parents to stay engaged with their child’s childcare centre.

iCheckIn is an amazing tool that helps parents and staff follow the attendance of each child by using a simple pin code. This easy to use system checks in children with the exact time every day and also records the time a child checks out. This can be conveniently used on touchscreen mobile devices very simply. Parents can receive alerts if they miss a check in or check out so everything is recorded in the one place enabling guardians and centre management to keep organised records in a cost effective and easy process.

All of Kidsoft’s Child Care Management Systems have been built and designed inside the specifications of the Australian Government and we closely follow the Government policies in case of changes so we can stay updated. We constantly research deeply into new developments and how we can continually improve the function of our essential software for parents and clients as well as centre staff. The dynamics of Kidsoft will always be ahead of the game thanks to our superb team with over 20 years experience in the industry. We know what our clients need as we have been clients.

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Preparing for that first day at Pre-School

Child with backpack

Preparing for that first day at pre-school is important for both parent and child. It can be a very worrying time, so below on behalf of the team at Kidsoft I’m going to share some valuable advice.

Making the Transition Easier
So, leading up to that first day parents must of course arrange a proper in depth meeting with the manager and staff of the centre. It is also a good idea to take your child a few times to familiarise them with the place and it’s staff. Introduce them to the facilities so they can look forward to play time. If they need a uniform then let them get involved like choosing their lunch box and water bottle etc.

Tell the staff as much information about your child as possible, for example their likes and dislikes. Everyone concerned wants the transition to be as stress free as possible. For anxious parents it may help if you take a friend along for the first few times you drop off your child as it can be quite overwhelming. At home it may be an idea to stick to the centres routine like nap time. This will help your child get used to the new routine.

Some children may love the experience of starting pre-school yet some may be scared or insecure. It is normal for young children to suffer some anxiety at being separated from their parents or guardian. Some children adapt quicker than others so don’t panic. Remember you are not being a bad parent by putting your child into pre-school so don’t feel guilty. Do something they like on the way like play their favourite music, or sing along to their favourite nursery rhyme as simple things like this can calm them. Always remember the centre is a phone call away so if your child had a particular anxious drop off then call the centre manager. The staff we employ are highly skilled at preparing your child for that first day at pre-school so you know you have their support.

Always talk to your child about what is going to happen on the way. For example you can start with the routine, and explain what they can do at play time, what will be for snack time or lunch time. All this communication will help towards them getting used to the new routine. Most children have some kind of comforting object they love like a teddy bear, so make sure that goes with them. A little bit of home is ok. Don’t let your child see you anxious or upset even if you are as this will unsettle them. Only stay for a few minutes every day instead of hanging around or doing long goodbyes.

As much as you’ll find it hard to leave, staying for a long time when dropping off can create the sense that you’re staying with them, making it harder when it comes time to leave. Stay for a few minutes as they settle into an experience and then say good bye before leaving. Being consistent is a huge factor and will help with their own anxieties. All in all keep upbeat about their visit and ask them in an excited way about their time at pre-school or what they may be doing on the way. Lots of smiles and a very normal attitude will make them feel more relaxed. So, preparing for that first day in pre-school really can be much easier than what you think.

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Kidsoft and Storypark Team Up!

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Kidsoft and Storypark have teamed up to help Educators across Australia!
Kidsoft and Storypark are excited to be teaming up to take the stress out of teaching. Kidsoft users can now set up a Storypark community through Kidsoft. Set up a new Storypark community through Kidsoft by 30 June 2016 and you’ll receive three (3) months Storypark FREE! A 25% saving!

Storypark is a certified Kidsoft partner. Leading educators across Australia are using Storypark to engage parents, strengthen practice, support professional development, streamline assessment and rating processes, and improve their NQS ratings. Learn more about Storypark and how they can assist your business by clicking here.