Little girls at childcare

Top Childcare Industry Trends in 2021

Two little girls at childcare

Let’s face it — no one could have predicted the childcare industry trends that would emerge in 2020, as the Covid-19 pandemic hit and the whole world was forced to change the way it operated.

In 2021, Covid-19 is unlikely to disappear entirely, but now that we’re used to the new normal, we can take a better stab at forecasting what the next twelve months will look like. 

It should be an exciting year for the childcare industry. Yes, the effects and legacy of the pandemic will continue to change how we operate, but we’re also likely to see a lot more tech around centres as demand for our services increases.

Supercharged Health and Safety

The first half of 2021 is likely to see the tail end of the pandemic, as people are gradually vaccinated and life goes back to something resembling normal. 

However, in childcare settings, the legacy of the pandemic will likely be a continued focus on health, safety, and hygiene. Parents who have become used to continuously washing their hands and staying at a safe distance from others are unlikely to suddenly abandon this protocol after vaccination.

This is why the big winners in the childcare industry will be those centres who continue to put a focus on health and safety — and go to additional lengths to keep their centres clean. If you’ve installed hand sanitiser stations, ramped up hand washing protocol, or invested in extra cleaning services during the pandemic, don’t abandon these efforts. 

Not only should you continue to ensure your childcare centre is as clean as it can be — you should make it clear to parents that this continues to be a priority. 

Increased Tech to Provide Parents With Peace of Mind 

After a year of living through incredibly uncertain times, parents are going to want and need peace of mind when it comes to their little ones more than ever before. With this in mind, childcare centres should increase their reliance on technology platforms that allow them to quickly and easily communicate with parents — without adding a huge administrative burden onto their staff.  

What will this tech look like? Think tools like iCheck-In that allow parents and staff to check children in and out of the centre, and have helpful communication tools that enable them to leave messages and pick up or drop off notes. This tech reduces work for staff, while also giving parents peace of mind. 

Higher Demand for Childcare

Higher demand for childcare is also predicted in 2021. 

Why? First off, this follows the general trend of more and more households having two working parents and two incomes. As many families have struggled to survive financially during the pandemic, this trend is only set to increase as the world gets back to normal. 

Furthermore, as the pandemic is predicted to continue through much of 2021, parents are increasingly reluctant to leave their children with their own parents. Older people are at a higher risk of mortality should they catch Covid-19, and with children going to school — and typically not being great at social distancing — exposing grandparents to the little ones is a less attractive option. 

Early Education

Over the past few years, childcare centres have transitioned from places to simply drop off the little ones when you’re busy, to early education centres. This trend is set to snowball as competition ramps up and parents demand more than ever from childcare providers. Care centres that formalise their early education curriculum and encourage their staff to gain qualifications in this area will be the big winners. 

Tech to Boost Productivity

Productivity-boosting tech has long been used in the business world, but since the advent of AI, these types of tools are able to help more and more businesses. With childcare providers now able to significantly boost their productivity without increasing their manpower, more and more childcare centres will be investing in this tech. 

For instance, iEnrol hugely increases a centre’s sales, marketing, and administrative capabilities, while also making communication with parents much quicker and easier.

In general, having the right tools in place to streamline your processes will be more important than ever next year. Reach out to us to learn how Kidsoft can help!

Woman with child

5 Ways to Save Time as a Childcare Centre Owner

Childcare Teacher

Being a childcare centre owner means juggling a million different things at once. From dealing with suppliers and budgets to recruiting staff and keeping parents happy, there often just doesn’t feel like there are enough hours in the day to get to the end of that gargantuan to-do list. 

However, there are a number of ways you can claw back time, without cutting corners when it comes to your service. In fact, boosting your own efficiency and productivity — as well as that of your centre — often comes hand in hand with improving the service for parents, their little ones, and your team.

With this in mind, here are our top ways to save time as a childcare centre owner. 

1. Electronically Track Attendance

These days, there are so many easy-to-use tools that can streamline the essential day-to-day tasks of childcare centre staff. Using an electronic system to keep accurate records of attendance is one of the easiest ways you can save yourself time. 

A great example is iCheck-In, which allows both childcare centre staff and parents to electronically check their children in and out of the centre via a handy platform which is accessible via tablet, mobile, and other touchscreen devices. It also gives you a handy overview of attendance at a glance, with real time classroom ratios that deliver peace of mind. 

2. Streamline Communication

When you’re running a childcare centre that caters to a large number of children and parents, the level of communication that needs to happen can feel astronomical. There’s the urgent communication about sickness, injury, or bad behaviour, and the general reports of what the little ones have been up. 

Then there’s the logistical communication — pick up and drop off notes and booking amendments — as well as communication around events or wider centre news. Whatever method of communication you prefer, the most important thing is to decide on a system and stick to it. This way, you won’t miss important messages from parents, and you’ll save precious time. 

3. Manage Bookings and Payments Online

Perhaps the most admin-intensive task for any childcare centre owner is managing bookings and payments. With so many children to take care of — all with differing schedules — using a digital booking platform that incorporates payments too is a huge time saver. 

If this sounds useful, take a look at iParentPortal. Parents can use this platform to manage their child’s booking, payments, and documentation from their phone. As well as making bookings, they’re able to amend them and notify staff of absences, while you can send invoice reminders through the tool too. As well as massively slashing your administrative burden, the platform makes it super easy to manage bookings and services based on ratios. 

4. Use a CRM

There’s a reason that pretty much every big business in the world relies on a customer relationship management (CRM) tool. While childcare centres may feel a lot more personal than corporate giants, CRMs can work wonders when it comes to bringing new families to your website and registering. 

iEnrol is a powerful pre-registration CRM specifically designed for childcare centres. It works to drive parents to your business, and then allows them to complete registration and view waitlist information online. 

This gives childcare centre owners a deep understanding of the level of demand for their service, allowing them to forecast and make big business decisions — such as recruiting more staff or moving to a bigger premises — with confidence. On a more day-to-day level, this tool is designed to save you time, while also helping you to accurately resource your centre.

5. Delegate Effectively

Sometimes you just can’t do everything that needs to be done by yourself. Give yourself a break, and delegate some of your tasks to your team. Look at each staff member’s skills and personality and work out which tasks they’d be most suited to. 

A friendly, bubbly member of staff should be great at taking over communication duties, for example, while a logical, methodical person could help you with bookings. Remember, they’re there to help you out! 

Running a childcare centre demands a large time commitment, but with these tips, you’ll be able to streamline your process and get back some precious time. For more information on how a tool like Kidsoft can help you achieve this goal, contact us to schedule a demo.

Teacher with young children

5 Ways To Improve Time Management In Your Childcare Centre

Female Teacher with young children

Time management is a common pain point for childcare centre managers: it just feels like you’re never going to reach the end of that lengthy to-do list. 

But the issue of time management is bigger than just your personal schedule. By utilising the latest time management tools and techniques, you can optimise your whole childcare centre, upping your productivity without hiring any more staff.

Here’s how. 

1. Keep a Time Log 

When it comes to tackling time management, there’s only one place to start: find out where all your time has been going. After all, you’ll only be able to organise your time once you have all the facts and stats of how long all your different tasks take, and where you’re losing time. Ask your team to record where they’re spending their own time too, so you can get an overview of the whole childcare centre. 

2. Prioritise

What are your priorities? The tasks that absolutely must get done in your childcare centre? Consult with your staff and make a list of these priorities. Assign them to yourself and members of your team. If you’re all accountable for one or two priorities each day, they’re much more likely to get completed. Once this is done, look at the next most important tasks, assign them between your team, and so on and so forth. Consider also whether there are any tasks that are surplus to requirements that you could cut or reduce the frequency of? 

3. Schedule Each Day

At first, scheduling may feel like it’s taking up more time than it gives you, but once you get into the swing of it, you’ll begin to feel its myriad benefits. Scheduling doesn’t have to be a headache — it’s less about huge books filled with indecipherable scrawl, and more about slick apps that make scheduling a cinch. 

Google Calendar is a great option: not only can you fill up your own calendar with tasks, but you can see each of the team’s own calendars. It’s super easy to assign workers to different rooms or tasks, and gives you a handy overview of where everyone should be at every point in the day.

4. Use Tools To Streamline Processes

We’re lucky enough to live in a world with numerous productivity tools that supercharge our manpower. Before you decide which is the right one for you, examine the current jobs and processes within the centre. Which are taking up too much time? Which could be streamlined? 

Often, the tasks taking up the most time include the endless admin that comes with running a childcare centre — such as registering children or taking bookings — and communicating with parents, whether due to an emergency, a change in plans, or simply to let them know how their little one got on that day. 

Tools like iCheck-In and iParentPortal tackle these admin and communication time drains by streamlining registration, booking, payment, and communication processes. 

5. Block Out ‘Do Not Disturb’ Time

If you’re the sort of childcare centre manager who is always on hand to help, this one can be tricky. But it is important. In many centres, while the team is busy caring for the little ones, the boss is sat in an office dealing with the business side of running a childcare centre. Wrapping your head around the myriad tasks that come with running a business is hard enough — and it can be near impossible with babies crying in the background or constant interruptions by staff asking questions. 

Set aside a day or two every week where you shut yourself away and stick a big ‘do not disturb’ sign on your door. Assign a different member of staff to man the phones and answer emails from parents. Delegate staff questions to the next most senior member of your team, and set out the exceptions to the rule — for example, if there is a genuine emergency, you will want to be disturbed. Not only will this help you get through your trickiest paperwork, but it will make you a better, more present manager the rest of the time. 

Interested in learning more about how tech can further help you improve your time management? Reach out to us at Kidsoft today!

Woman at computer with colleagues

Five reasons why Kidsoft’s partner integration strategy is a winning solution for the childcare sector

Kidsoft, the Australian early learning sector’s leading childcare software platform, offers a unique integration model that enables customers to integrate some of the sector’s best-known software solutions into their existing Kidsoft platform. 

In recent weeks the number of integration partners has jumped to eight with the inclusion of leading workforce management software provider Human Force and compliance management platform 1Place Childcare joining a host of other providers such as Storypark, ChildcareCRM, KindyHub, KindyNow and more.  

Unlike other childcare management platforms, some of which offer all in one solutions, Kidsoft has an integration ready platform that drives better outcomes for owners, managers, children and families, and is the go-to destination for providers who want the ability to choose what features their platform offers.

Kidsoft’s integration strategy is dynamic and constantly evolving and provides the following key benefits to service managers looking for a ‘best of breed’ solution.

1. Empowering customers to make their own choices

As the number of all-in-one CCMS software providers continues to increase, Kidsoft stands out as the only leading platform that remains committed to providing its customers with the ability to choose which software partners they prefer to partner with, as opposed to being forced to use features embedded in an existing all in one solution. 

Choice is key to the Kidsoft integration strategy and remains a decisive factor as to why partnering with Kidsoft ensures better outcomes for owners, managers, children and families.

2. Facilitating the creation of curated ecosystems

With the ability to choose from a range of integration partners comes the ability to curate a customised ecosystem across each service that reflects specific priorities and ensures the best outcomes are achieved for children, families and team members. 

For example, a service that is particularly focused on improving occupancy metrics would welcome the opportunity to connect their Kidsoft platform with a leading lead management solution enabling them to streamline the customer journey more effectively.

A service that is less focused on occupancy but particularly focused on parent engagement would see the multiple benefits of connecting their Kidsoft platform to their parent engagement platform of choice.

By utilising Kidsoft integrations owners and managers can take control of their software solutions and ensure that what they have is precisely what they want.

3. Ensuring only sector leading solutions are being accessed 

Another key benefit of the integration ready strategy is that it ensures that customers not only have choice but are also guaranteed quality. 

Only the ECEC sector’s leading providers are included on the Kidsoft integration partner list having undergone rigorous due diligence and testing by the Kidsoft integration teams. 

The result is the best of the best can be accessed by the Kidsoft customer community, a benefit that an all-in-one platform could never match.

4. Guaranteeing new innovations are included in real time 

The importance of innovation has never been as paramount as it has during 2020, with changes forced upon the ECEC sector by COVID-19 having created a range of new organisational and operational imperatives that are ‘must haves’ to ensure outcomes continue to improve. 

The Kidsoft integration strategy supports the customer’s ability to remain connected to important innovations through their integration partners, all of which are 100 per cent focussed on ensuring their products are ahead of the innovation curve, and providing users with the best solutions on the market.

5. Removing the need to engage separately with multiple service providers 

By connecting Kidsoft directly to other platforms a streamlined eco-system is created across which information can flow freely and with ease.

As a direct result users will not need to enter information into one system and then re-enter it into another, instead benefitting from synchronisation functionality that automatically transfers information across platforms.

And finally, not only will the integrations improve outcomes and productivity, they could also save money as discounts and incentives are now available for Kidsoft users opting to sign up new integration software partners through the Kidsoft platform.

“We are really proud of our commitment to providing our customers with choice through our integration strategy,” Kidsoft CEO Di Girvin said, outlining that giving customers the ability to connect to the best of the best solution providers in the childcare sector from the Kidsoft platform “is essential to ensuring they are fully supported to meet their objectives and priorities.”

To learn more about Kidsoft’s ‘best of breed’ integration strategy, its integration partners and what incentives and discounts are available for new sign ups please click here.

Mum and Dad with happy toddler

5 Ways To Improve Customer Relationship With Parents At Your Childcare Centre

mum and dad with happy toddler

Maintaining good relationships with the parents who bring their children to your childcare centre can prove a tricky balancing act. 

When it comes to ensuring that their little ones are safe and happy, parents can be (understandably) somewhat demanding. 

So when things get tough, try to remember that they’re trusting you with their most precious possession, and use the tips below to improve your relationship with them. 

Highlight Good Behaviour as Well as the Bad News

Days at childcare centres are busy and often full of micro-dramas, as kids, fight, cry, and throw tantrums. An inevitability of being rushed off your feet is that often, the only phone calls or emails that a parent will receive is to tell them that something bad has happened. It makes sense: these are the things that parents must be informed of, and so those conversations are unavoidable. 

Yet if every piece of communication with the centre means bad news — for example, that their little one is sick, upset, or behaved badly — parents will dread picking up the phone. Instead, try to contact them to tell them all the good stuff their little one got up to that week as well. Opening with a story about their child doing well will also soften the blow when you do have some negative information to impart. 

Make Transactions Easier With CCMS Software

The parents of children who attend childcare centres are undoubtedly going to be busy — that’s why they’re using your service in the first place. So lessen the admin burden on them with a CCMS software like Kidsoft

This software includes features such as a payment gateway, an enrolment gateway, an attendance tracker, and communication platforms. Not only will parents appreciate having all of the information relating to your childcare centre in one place, but it will also lessen the admin burden on your team, boosting productivity.

Encourage Feedback 

Parents will want to have their say — so give them an outlet for their opinions in a structured way. At the end of each quarter, consider sending out a parent feedback survey. Alternatively, try installing a suggestion box on your reception desk. Make sure parents know who they should contact if they have an urgent complaint or concern to report. This will make them feel valued and listened to, especially when you take steps to adapt to their feedback.

Involve Parents in Events

While your team needs to maintain professionalism around parents, remember that they will also want to get to know the caretakers they regularly leave their children with. Holding events when it’s safe to do so — and involving parents — is a great way to allow them to get to know your team in a professional setting. Whether you throw child-friendly parties, put on shows, or hold bake sales, the more you involve them, the more brand loyal parents will become. 

Ensure Your Centre is Always Clean, Safe and Hygienic

Maintaining a clean, safe, and hygienic space is the absolute minimum a parent will expect of you. Yet, with everything involved in looking after a bunch of children every day, sometimes things can get a little messy. Leaving some spilt food on a table for half an hour, or having an overflowing bin may not seem like a health hazard — but it will look bad to parents. If you run a large childcare centre, it may be worth employing cleaners throughout the day to keep the place spick and span. 

Running a childcare centre and keeping parents happy is no easy feat, but it can be truly rewarding. With these 5 tips in mind, you’ll be able to strive for the best possible customer relationships with parents.

Two girls doing arts and crafts

Batteries not required – the magic of repurposed play

Two young girls playing arts & craft

Do you remember the magic of Play School presenters delving into the useful box? 

Cardboard boxes would become all sorts of things, from buildings to beds, and cardboard tubes would be binoculars, wands and all sorts of other imaginary props. With a little bit of glue and a lot of imagination, items from the recycling pile were turned into meaningful additions to learning. 

While children and families nowadays may be tempted by numerous toys that light up, do tricks, play music or have interactive apps, there is a lot to be said for open-ended play resources. A toy phone, for example, is a great way to pretend to talk on the phone, but the function of the toy is so specialised that it limits the imagination of what else it may be used for. 

A toothpaste box could be re-imagined as a phone, a remote control, a toy boat, a car… the opportunities are endless! 

Open-ended materials have an infinite number of uses, limited only by a child’s imagination. When children are given open-ended materials to play with, not only are their imaginations sparked, but sustainability lessons are learnt as well. 

Here are some suggestions for everyday materials which could take on a new lease of life in your service: 

Gift wrap and paper towel rolls

Many things can be created from cardboard cylinders. They can be used in a bowling game, crafted into telescopes, or even used to paint with. Things can be poured through them, or they can be joined together with tape to make a tower or a tunnel. 

Egg cartons

Egg cartons – perfect as a means to support children with a transportation or sorting schema to explore, the humble egg carton offers a world of possibilities for play. Egg cartons are also great props in small world play when cut up – they can be tables, stools or a roof. (Please consider egg allergies in your space before implementing this suggestion).

Plastic Bottles

Plastic bottles – many educators have cottoned on to the idea of using plastic bottles to make sensory and self-regulation tools for children, but there is so much more they can be used for. Plastic bottles can be cut into mini greenhouses, used in water and sand play, or help with experiments about sinking and floating. Plastic bottles can be repurposed in many ways. 

Cardboard boxes

Cardboard boxes the adage that children love the box more than the toy that is housed in it is true! Big boxes can become cubbies, cars, towers and so much more. Smaller boxes have a plethora of uses too – beds for baby dolls, a new pair of shoes, a letter box – the possibilities are endless. 

By taking a look through your recycling collection, at home or in the service, you may unlock a world of possibility. 

For more ideas and inspirations on working with recycled materials, visit No time for flashcards, Recycle and Play or Playgroup WA

Little boy with Coronavirus sign

7 Tips for Keeping Your Childcare Centre Safe from COVID-19

Little boy with Coronavirus sign

Ensuring that your business stays safe from Covid-19 is hard enough in the current climate, but it becomes ten times trickier when you add large groups of children into the equation.

However, if you take sensible precautions and put safety and cleanliness at the heart of everything you and your team do, there’s no reason you can’t continue to ensure that your childcare centre stays a happy, Covid-free haven for little ones during these uncertain times. 

Here’s how to keep your childcare centre safe from Covid-19. 

1. Require Sick Staff and Children to Stay Home
Ensuring that staff and children who are obviously unwell don’t attend your childcare centre sounds like it should be easy, but that’s unfortunately not the case. Staff presenteeism and parents who need to offload their children so they can get to work may mean that concerning symptoms are overlooked. 

Set out your Covid-19 sickness policy in two clear, easily accessible documents — one for staff and one for parents — and make it clear that you will not permit anyone who has Covid-19 symptoms to enter the building.

2. Ensure That Staff Are Following Guidance
As the pandemic rumbles on, it’s easy for people to get complacent when it comes to things like hand washing and mask wearing. Yet to protect your childcare centre from Covid-19, it is essential that staff stick to the rules.

Help them out by providing PPE such as masks, creating hand sanitising stations, and hanging up posters reminding them of social distancing and hand washing guidelines. 

3. Separate Children and Staff Into Bubbles
If your childcare centre is relatively large, it’s worth separating children and staff into separate bubbles. Assign children to childcare providers who will take care of them each day, and ensure that the separate bubbles stay in different rooms throughout their time at the centre. Stagger their time outdoors and in the lunchroom to prevent crossover. 

4. Stagger Arrival and Pick-Up Times
Prevent large groups of parents and children mingling at the centre by staggering drop-off and pick-up times. Where possible, set up a safe arrival and pick-up zone outside the centre that is manned by your staff so parents don’t need to enter the building at all. 

5. Screen Children Upon Arrival
Covid-19 does not always manifest in obvious symptoms — particularly among little ones. Where possible, screen children’s temperature upon arrival. Ensure that the screening area is clear of other staff and children, and make sure the staff member carrying out the screening is properly protected by PPE. 

6. Regularly Clean and Disinfect
While it’s always vital to keep your childcare centre clean, cleanliness in 2020 needs to hit a whole new level. Develop a schedule for cleaning and disinfecting that ensures that frequently touched surfaces and objects — including toys and games — are routinely cleaned, sanitised, and disinfected. It’s also important to ban the use of toys that cannot be cleaned and sanitised. 

7. Cancel and Postpone Planned Events
The fluctuation of national and local lockdowns means that it’s very difficult to predict whether any planned events will actually be permitted to take place. However, in order to keep your childcare centre safe from Covid-19, it’s sensible to cancel and postpone these events anyway. 

While it’s unfortunate to deprive your community of children and parents of the usual yearly events, they’ll enjoy them a lot more once the pandemic is over — and you won’t have to worry that a coronavirus outbreak is in the cards. 

To find out more about how software like Kidsoft can help you manage your business operations now more than ever, contact us to book a demo.

Male teacher with boy

6 Ways To Make Your Childcare Centre Well-Known In Your Area

Male teacher with young boy

Every childcare centre owner wants to work out how to pack their waiting list with parents desperate to secure their little one a place. You want to ensure your centre is the number one choice for parents in your area, and that it has an outstanding reputation within your community.

Of course, this is difficult to achieve if only the parents of children who currently attend your childcare centre are aware you exist. 

It’s so important to work towards establishing yourself more broadly in your area, so that prospective clients — such as soon-to-be parents or grandparents — are aware of your childcare centre before they even begin to seek one out.  

Here’s how to go about it.

Hold Events
Community events are a fun and effective way of announcing “we’re here!” to the people in your area. Make the most of your building to host events for the children, their parents and — where it’s appropriate — the wider community. 

For instance, an exhibition of the children’s art, a festive show, or a summer fair could be great fun for the little ones and their families. Yet, for other events — from themed discos to fundraising soirees — there’s no reason not to get the whole community involved. 

Marketing Outreach
Sometimes you just have to get down to some traditional marketing. Platforms such as Toddle or Care for Kids are great resources for parents. Ensure you’re putting your best foot forward for your service’s listings.

Email outreach is a highly productive way to connect with prospective clients. Consider building a newsletter list that people can sign up to on your website to share a little about what’s going on each month at your daycare centre and to advertise events. 

Go further and offer those who sign up to your newsletter tours of your centre or meetings to answer any questions. Both of these tactics will help to build trust and get your name out there. Once prospects are engaged and want to find out more, you can begin using phone calls and text messages too, for a more personal feel.

This might sound like a lot of work, but it doesn’t have to be. Fortunately, Kidsoft integrates with ChildcareCRM, which helps daycare centre managers to coordinate all of the above activities. Using this integration, you can connect with new families at the right time and engage them through emails, calls, and text messages on the tool’s easy-to-navigate sales and marketing platform. 

Build Your Social Media Presence
Given that many of your prospective clients will spend hours on Facebook each day, your email outreach efforts should be accompanied by a strong social media presence. Create a private Facebook group that parents whose children are members of your childcare centre can join. 

Additionally, consider launching another group to share news and events with a wider range of people, and to interact more broadly with the local community. It is of course important that you don’t share any information on social media that could put any of the children who attend your daycare centre at risk.

Incentivise Referrals
When it comes to developing a strong local reputation, it’s hard to beat word of mouth. Some of this will happen naturally as parents chat to their friends about the benefits of your daycare centre. But why not speed this process up by offering incentives for referrals? 

For example, if one family successfully refers another family, both parties could get a day or a week at your childcare centre for free. Other rewards could include gift cards, children’s’ toys, or indulgent hampers for the parents.

Engage in Smart Networking
Networking can be time consuming and take you away from your day-to-day tasks, yet face-to-face interaction with your community is instrumental for reputation building. This is why it’s vital to be smart about how and when you network. Where will your time be the most valuable, and where are your prospective clients most likely to hang out? Consider attending groups for new mums and dads, going to events run by businesses catering to children, or collaborating with local primary schools. 

Try these five tips to get the word out about your centre, and for even more support in streamlining your business, check out how Kidsoft can help.Pla

Girl with Christmas decoration

The Christmas Conundrum: Planning for celebrations that reflect and respect diversity

Girl with Christmas decoration

Almost without fail, year on year, six weeks out from Christmas a debate will kick off.

Some commentators call this debate “the war on Christmas” with strong and emotional arguments on both sides, both in favour of, and against “traditional” celebrations. 

These debates can be challenging for those working in early childhood settings – after all, celebrations are important markers on our calendars, and families, staff and children will often all have their own ideas about how they should be acknowledged. 

How can childcare services make sure that all children, families, and staff feel respected?

How can services make sure children and families join in with celebrations in a way which respects the diversity of families? 

One size does not fit all
Some educators and leaders will remember an experience from their childhood of eating dinner, or spending the night at a friend’s house. In those moments, many of us remember the mind-blowing feeling when you realised that not everyone eats dinner with a knife and fork, that some families let their dogs sleep on the bed, or that in some houses, shoes are not to be worn inside. 

What those moments teach is that all families, and all homes, have their own little differences. The same is true for celebrations – not all people celebrate or acknowledge all holidays, and few do it in the same way. 

In most settings, because of different beliefs, biases and experiences, some negotiation will need to happen in relation to special celebrations and holidays. Even within groups that all acknowledge the same holiday, such as Christmas, how individual families celebrate will reflect both similarities and differences. 

For holidays such as mothers and Father’s Day, which families are included, and which are excluded? How could this practice be made more inclusive? 

What’s the why?
Each community is composed of members of many different cultures, backgrounds and beliefs. Knowing the origins and the meaning behind each holiday may support your service in making decisions about what, and how, to celebrate. 

The Early Years Learning Framework encourages educators to think about how they authentically embed culture into environments, practices and programs, describing cultural competence as being “much more than awareness of differences. It is the ability to understand, communicate with, and effectively interact with people across cultures.”

When educators look at how they work with children and families, as guided by the Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics, they are guided to learn about, respect and respond to the uniqueness of each family, their circumstances, culture, family structure, customs, language, beliefs and kinship systems. 

Honouring this uniqueness also means recognising that each group has a right to their traditions, and that the program should not favour one group of families over another. 

Key ideas for celebrating the holidays… fairly

  • Learning, not celebrating: celebrating a holiday makes children active participants in a culture or tradition, and assumes that all families believe in the premise behind it. Switching that thinking to learning about a holiday means teaching children about what it means to some, and how some choose to participate in it, emphasising the uniqueness of all traditions. 
  • Power of language: choosing to use words that focus on the history of celebrations, and which highlight the range of beliefs, can support a diversity of beliefs in a service. Avoiding phrases such as “but EVERYONE here…” as this may or may not be the case. 
  • Start something new: a unique celebration for a group of children, or a setting, may have more meaning to children and families, and includes everyone, building connections with families and communities. In this piece, the team from KU Ourimbah share a reflection on how they moved from ‘graduation’ to a celebration of learning, led by the children.
  • Support children in understanding why: If a child or family chooses not to participate in a celebration, work with the other children to understand why, explaining that all families have different ways of acting, and that this is not consistent in every home. 

Further resources: 
Celebrate!: An Anti-Bias Guide to Including Holidays in Early Childhood Programs

Holidays and Anti Bias Education 

The Anti Bias Approach in Early Childhood

Educator with young girl

How to Make Your Childcare Centre Stand Out

Educator with young girl

There are many childcare centres out there, and it can be difficult to know what to do to ensure that yours stands head and shoulders above the rest.  

The main thing that parents are seeking in a childcare centre is a place they feel confident leaving their little ones, so making sure to foster a safe and clean environment should always be your number one priority.

But beyond that, how do you truly differentiate your business? Read on for 6 tips to make your childcare centre stand out. 

1. Offer Extracurricular Activities 
Extracurricular activities such as sports or foreign language lessons are important to a child’s development in terms of mental stimulation, social interaction, and/or physical activity.  

While most parents will be looking to enrol their children in activities of this sort, it can be a challenge to fit them into everyone’s busy schedule and sometimes limited budget. Offering various extracurricular activities will therefore be a huge bonus for parents considering your centre. 

2. Invest in Staff Engagement  
A high staff turnover at daycare centres can make parents nervous, which means you should do your best to hang onto your staff for as long as possible. This means driving up staff engagement — and there are myriad ways to achieve this.  

For example, invest in training and personal development plans. Create a social budget for team bonding activities. Give honest feedback, and give praise where it is deserved. Ultimately, do whatever it takes to ensure that your childcare centre is a pleasant place to work.  

3. Develop a Consistent Code of Conduct 
When it comes to working with children, consistency and fairness is key. Parents need to know what to expect from you, and they need to know that each child is being treated the same way.  

Develop a code of conduct and share it with all parents before their child starts at the childcare centre, while emphasising that both the childcare centre and the parents must stick to the agreed rules. This should cover everything from hours of operation and discipline to feeding, vaccines, and what happens in case of emergency.  

4. Hold Events 
Host events to make parents feel like they’re part of the community at the childcare centre. This could mean small events at pick-up time, where parents are invited to relax for a while and see what their kids have been up to over the past few weeks.  

It could also mean bigger community events like barbecues, fairs, or an open house, where prospective parents are invited to get to know you and your staff. If you opt for this route, ensure that you have plenty of business materials prepared to hand out.  

5. Over-Communicate
While people would usually prefer not to be bombarded with communication, parents would generally rather receive too much information rather than too little when it comes to the safety and happiness of their little ones, 

With this in mind, make sure they know that they can reach your team at any point while their child is at the centre, and send regular email updates that don’t require a response from busy parents.

6. Implement Childcare Software
Software can be a huge asset when it comes to running your childcare business as it can help streamline and improve your overall operations.  

In particular, implementing software with a dedicated parent portal will be a major draw for parents — anything you can do to make their lives a little easier is a huge plus. A parent portal will allow parents to complete tasks such as bookings and payments right on their mobile phones, saving everyone precious time. 

For more information on the benefits of implementing childcare software, please contact our team.