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.

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.

Female Childcare teacher with little girl

Why You Should Invest in Professional Development as a Childcare Educator

As childcare workers, we owe it to the little ones to be the best possible caretakers we can be. Partaking in professional development puts you on the path to achieving this goal, whilst also adding another string to your professional bow.

Gaining professional development qualifications will boost your workplace confidence and help you climb the career ladder whilst also making sure the children under your care are as safe and happy as possible.

What’s more, when you bring your new cutting-edge knowledge and ideas back to your workplace, your boss will be thrilled.

Female Childcare teacher with little girl

Ensure You’re Providing the Best Possible Care
The first and foremost reason for investing in professional development as a childcare worker is to improve the level of care you provide to your charges. From being aware of the most up-to-date health and safety regulations to having the training to excel at early years education, professional development will help you to ensure the time spent with the little ones is as productive and engaging as possible, and their parents — and your boss — will thank you for it.

Climb the Career Ladder
If childcare is your vocation, then climbing the career ladder is likely to be high on your priorities list. Professional development ensures you have the right qualifications to take on more responsibility in your chosen areas, whether your ambitions surround managerial or educational roles, or even building up to one day owning your own childcare centre. In an industry that still considers many professional qualifications a “nice to have” rather than essential, walking into a job interview with numerous qualifications to your name will make the employer sit up and take notice.

Keep up to Date With the Latest Regulations
It is incredibly important that childcare centres and childcare workers are up to date with the latest regulations. These may be legislative regulations that every worker must follow by law, or regulatory guidelines that are recommended by industry bodies. Even when you are not legally bound to follow guidelines, ensuring that both you and the centre you work at are compliant is vital for keeping the children safe and happy, and making parents feel comfortable when it comes to leaving their little ones behind with you.

Make Yourself More Attractive to Employers
Maybe you see yourself working for your current employer forever and climbing the internal career ladder, or perhaps you’ve set your sights elsewhere. Either way, having professional qualifications will make you stand out from the crowd and ensure you are a highly desirable candidate, either for your current employer to retain, or for an external employer to bring on board.

Improve Your Childcare Centre with New Ideas
Childcare never stands still. Researchers are constantly conducting new studies into childhood behaviour and development that tell us new and exciting things about the best ways to look after young children. Meanwhile, rapid advances in technology mean everything – from business tools to teaching equipment to toys – is constantly evolving. Partake in professional development courses, and you’ll come back to work with an up-to-date understanding of the latest industry developments, and fresh ideas to table as you apply your cutting-edge knowledge.

Boost Your Professional Confidence
Taking professional development courses and gaining qualifications in your chosen field is bound to build your confidence in the workplace. Whether you’re in a team meeting or a job interview, speaking to parents, or dealing with an unruly group of children, professional development will give you the tools to handle each and every workplace situation, thereby boosting your professional confidence.

In addition to continually investing in professional development, it’s important to implement tools to help you excel at your job. Reach out to us at Kidsoft to see how we can help — we’re always happy to chat!

Two girls with male teacher

5 Key Management Skills You Need to Master to Run a Childcare Centre

Two girls with male teacher

Managing a childcare centre comes with a huge amount of responsibility — not only are you running a business, but you’re being tasked with the difficult job of keeping clients’ children safe and happy.

As a childcare centre manager, you need both excellent soft skills and hard skills to ensure your business keeps running smoothly.

Here are 5 key skills any childcare centre manager should possess:

Communication Skills
First and foremost, if you’re responsible for running a childcare centre, your communication skills need to be second to none.

Not only do you need to communicate effectively with your team, but you also need to communicate in a way that means parents and guardians are completely comfortable leaving their little ones with you. 

It’s vital to communicate openly and often with both your team and your clients to ensure that everyone involved feels comfortable being honest with you, and providing useful feedback without hesitation. 

Technical Knowledge

Childcare and technology didn’t always go hand in hand. However, as technology has developed at breakneck speed, the industry has adapted alongside it. 

Through the use of software and apps, childcare centre managers are now able to minimise the time that they and their team would have previously spent on tedious admin tasks. What’s more, the use of organisational and workflow tech tools mean that fewer mistakes are made due to human error. 

This means that modern childcare centre managers need to have the tech skills and abilities that will allow them to implement any new software or app features that will boost their business. 

Organisational Skills
This one goes without saying: when you’re trying to run an organisation full of staff, children, and parents, you need to be one step ahead at all times.

Organisational skills and attention to detail are an absolute must. If your organisational systems begin to fall apart, staff and customers will lose trust in you, and the bottom line could take a hit. 

It doesn’t matter whether you use a ready-made childcare management software, or you’ve devised your own system, as long as it works for you. 

Leadership Skills
If you run a childcare centre, you don’t need us to tell you that childcare can be a seriously tough job. 

There are plenty of rewarding moments too, but at times your staff will be stressed and at the end of their tether. When this happens, they’re going to need to lean on you for support and guidance. 

As a centre manager, you need to know when to push your staff to achieve more, how to develop your team, and when to simply be a strong support for them. 

Business Management Skills
Then there’s the business side of things. Budgeting and forecasting. Recruitment. Complying with various regulations. Marketing and PR. Engaging suppliers. Maintaining records. 

These are all skills that can easily be learned through college and university courses, as well as on the job, but it takes effort and tenacity to put them into action when you have a business to run.

For more information on how Kidsoft can help you manage your centre, reach out to us to book a demo.