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.

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.

Child and adult holding piggy bank

Five ways using iDebitPro with Kidsoft can save you time and money

Did you know that Kidsoft has its own payment processing gateway that thousands of centres across Australia are using every single day? Did you also know that those centres are Kidsoft centres and that by using their proprietary payment processing gateway they save both time and money week in, week out? 

iDebitPro is the name of the payment gateway and it has been part of the Kidsoft family of features and services for just over ten years.  

More recently the Kidsoft team have been revisiting the importance of this key system for centre directors and families and have created a list of five reasons why all centres that use Kidsoft should also be using iDebit Pro.  

Child and adult holding piggy bank

1. iDebitPro is a safe and secure way to enable families pay their fees on time 
This is perhaps iDebitPro’s biggest benefit to service managers. By transitioning families on to automatic fee payments via iDebitPro service managers do not need to worry about whether funds are going to arrive. They do not need to be concerned with EFTPOS machines or cash. They do not need to be worried about keeping families financial details secure. They simply have to request a family sign up to iDebitPro and the rest will be taken care of. 

2. iDebitPro gives families a simple and efficient way of paying their fees 
The simplicity of iDebitPro’s system is the key benefit for families who sign up. They don’t need to be sending manual payments. They don’t need to be making sure that their payments are sent by a particular date. They just need to sign up and everything is automated, secure and transparent. 

3. iDebitPro and the Kidsoft Information Centre work together to update fees
With CCS entitlements often changing the ability for a childcare management system to correctly calculate any changes in subsidy amounts is essential but equally important is the ability of the system to correctly update the new fees to be drawn and ensure that the correct amount is paid. IDebitPro and Kidsoft do exactly that and as a result service managers and families can be assured that the correct fees will always be drawn. 

4. iDebitPro notifies in real time if failed payments occur
Although the vast majority of payments will be received properly from time to time a payment fails and when it does it is essential that the service manager is notified immediately. iDebitPro has that capability. As soon as an expected payment does not materialise the service manager will be notified and can then immediately follow up with the family concerned.   

5. iDebitPro is terrific value with no setup fees and no gateway fees 
And in a world which is certainly not getting any cheaper iDebit Pro has a refreshing stance on pricing. There are no set up costs and no gateway costs. There are also no lock in contracts. The pricing is consistent and transparent with the centre having the choice of absorbing the transaction fee or passing it on to families.  

Discover iDebitPro Features

To learn more about how iDebitPro can support your business please contact our team who will be happy to provide more information and step you through the application process.  

Children playing outside

Outside is the place to be – the benefits of outdoor learning for children

Children playing outside

The benefits of outdoor play for children of all ages are well documented, with outdoor environments offering unique opportunities for children to engage in play based learning and sensory experiences.  

Outdoor play allows children of all ages to explore, discover and appreciate the natural world, and to be active, strengthening both fine and gross motor skills. When children play outside they can test their physical limits in ways which are more challenging indoors, and engage in “messy” experiences.  

By planning experiences in the outdoor environment, educators can help children to access a range of benefits, as well as meeting their obligations under Quality Area 3 – Outdoor and indoor spaces are organised and adapted to support every child’s participation and to engage every child in quality experiences in both built and natural environments.  

Healthy bodies 
When children run, jump, skip, hop, climb and roll outside, they are developing their gross motor muscles, balance and coordination. Playing in a sun safe way outdoors helps children to gain access to vitamin D, which is needed for strong bones, and to help fight disease. Spending time with the sun “warming your bones” can boost emotional well being also.  

Some studies have shown that children playing in dirt can expose them to allergens and bacteria which can help to build immunity, with emerging research showing that such exposures under the age of one year can help to prevent allergies from developing.  

Growing brains 
When children play outside, they learn more about how to manage risk. Being able to use loose parts and have self direction over their learning allows children to approach risk and make decisions about how to play safely and practice setting challenges, becoming aware of their limits and pushing their abilities at their own pace.  

When children are able to experiment with how high they can climb, how fast they can run, how far they can go, they will make mistakes, but they will also learn more about their bodies, and grow in confidence, lessening the chance that they will take big risks when they have more freedom later in their lives.  

Space to be  
Children’s wellbeing can be enhanced by having time in green spaces. In Japan, the practice of shinrin-yoku – bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through the five senses – is known to bring a sense of comfort, ease stress and worry, and help in clarifying thoughts.  

When children spend time in nature, it can support them to experience the same benefits, and offer time and space which is governed by the rhythms of nature, which can be very soothing.  

No such thing as bad weather  
All too often, children will be prevented from playing outside because it is too hot or too cold. When educators instead work with children to “be prepared” with hats, warm clothes, access to water play, raincoats and boots, there’s no such thing as “bad weather”. 

A number of ECEC services offer indoor/outdoor programs, where children are free to choose where they play, or place a focus on making natural materials available. Some services go a step further, offering children time, space and freedom to explore the natural environment through programs such as bush or beach kinder.   

Regardless of how the outdoor program is made available, there are lots of benefits for children learning and exploring the natural world. More ideas about how to do this are available in the “further resources” section below.  

Further resources 

Bush Kinder: Starting an outdoor learning program 

Designing outdoor play spaces – easy ideas for educators 

Outdoor learning environments – best practice principles  

Mum on laptop, boy on ipad

5 Tips for Parents Working From Home With Kids

Mum on laptop, child on tablet

It’s safe to say that successfully working from home with the kids has been one of the major challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. This was never going to be an easy task, but parents around the world are slowly getting used to juggling hands-on childcare with packed inboxes and Zoom calls. 

What’s more, there are quite a few tactics you can employ to make it easier, and ensure that when you have an important meeting, it won’t be constantly interrupted by plaintive calls for “Mummm” or “Daaaad” in the background. 

Here are five of our top tips:

Make a Schedule
As with many aspects of parenting, creating a day-to-day schedule is key to surviving working from home with kids. This doesn’t mean putting together a rigid hour-by-hour itinerary, however — every parent knows that even the best laid plans will often be disrupted by the little ones.

But routine is super important to children during their formative years, so a schedule should stop them becoming restless, assist their development and make sure they feel secure during uncertain times. Ahead of time, plan out a strong balance of activities and meals that align with your work schedule, and ensure you have all the supplies required. 

Rope in Friends and Family
It takes a village, right? And while we might not always be able to see our “village” in the midst of the pandemic, this shouldn’t change your loved ones’ relationship with your little ones. Rope in granny or grandad, or even a good friend, to conduct reading sessions or other virtual activities with the kids over Skype or FaceTime while you’re working. 

This way, they’ll be supervised, spending quality time with a loved one, and — fingers crossed — remain quiet and busy for an hour or two. What’s more, the adults involved will most likely love the change in their routine too. 

Save the Kids’ Favourite Activities for Your Meetings
In an ideal world, children would be quiet and peaceful for as long as you need them to be. But in the real world this can take a little bribery. Whether their favourite autonomous activity is a beloved toy, a special book, a video game, or access to a favourite YouTube channel, save it for when you really, seriously need an hour or two of peace and quiet. This could be an important meeting with your boss, or simply a task that demands your full concentration. 

Gamify Your Work Time for the Kids
When children are asked not to disturb mum or dad due to work hours, this can sometimes act a bit like a red rag to a bull. Funnily enough, the hours they know you need them to stay away are often the exact hours they suddenly become super clingy — right?

One way to handle this situation is by gamifying your work hours for your children. Simply put, make it fun and involve them. Why not ask your kids to write out and decorate your working hours – and do not disturb times – to stick to your office door? Another option is a star chart where the children get a treat for every week they haven’t disturbed you during office hours.

Create an Arts and Crafts Space
When it comes to keeping the little ones occupied, arts and crafts is the gift that keeps on giving. Give them time, and they’ll inevitably get bored of specific toys or games, but with art there’s a whole world of imagination to explore. 

Create a dedicated arts and crafts space, complete with plastic sheeting, to ensure safety during arts and crafts sessions and that you won’t return to paint splatters all over the walls and carpet. Set the space up with the supplies you’re comfortable with them having, and when you need to disappear into your work for an hour, give them a project to work on.

Working from home can be challenging during the best of times, and adding kids and a pandemic into the mix can make it incredibly overwhelming. Follow these 5 tips to ensure you keep your little ones occupied and also have dedicated time to be productive.

Boy and girl laughing

5 Simple Ways To Improve Your Childcare Centre

Boy and girl laughing

Childcare demands are becoming ever more complex in an increasingly digitised world, with competition now fiercer than ever. Childcare centre owners must continually improve and evolve their service in order to keep parents happy and coming back to them. 

Here are five simple adjustments you can make that will immediately step up your centre and impress parents and little ones alike. 

1. Make Reporting Simple

The question on every parent’s mind when they hand over their little one to childcare staff is obvious.

“Is my child going to be happy here?”

A huge part of keeping parents happy is by answering this question through reporting. Reporting should give parents a truthful and thorough account of what their child has been up to that day.

In order for your team to achieve this, reporting needs to be as simple as possible. Whether you work on paper or have upgraded to an electronic system, tracking things such as what each child ate should be as simple as ticking a box or pressing a button. It’s up to you to format your reporting to make it super simple for your staff.

Software like Kidsoft’s iCheck-In, for example, enables both your team and parents to electronically check children in and out of childcare centres across a variety of touchscreen devices, including phones and tablets. It also allows parents to send and receive messages, such as pick up and drop off notes, offering them peace of mind. Meanwhile, childcare centre employees get a real time overview of classroom ratios, attendance and updates. 

However you do it, it’s up to you to ensure reporting is super simple for both parents and staff.

2. Ask Your Staff to Take Photos and Videos for Parents

In the era of Facebook and Instagram, parents expect a little more than a written report. Sending photos and videos with your daily report will seriously endear them to your services. Whether it’s a photo of their three-year-old receiving an award for good behaviour, or an adorable video of their baby splashing around during water play, nothing will show parents how much their little ones love your childcare centre and its staff more than visuals.

You should, of course, ask parents for permission to start snapping away, and ensure each parent only receives photos and videos of their own child. 

Introducing a learning platform such as Storypark or Kindyhub, Kidsoft integration partners, are also great solutions.

3. Implement a Clear Career Development Ladder

As anyone in the childcare business knows, happy staff equal happy children. Looking after little ones can be really fun and rewarding, but it can also be super stressful a lot of the time. This is why it’s hugely important that centre owners go the extra mile to ensure that their staff love working at their business, and see their future there. Maintaining a low turnover of staff is also vital for ensuring parents feel comfortable leaving their kids at the centre. 

One way to achieve employee satisfaction is by ensuring there is a clear career development ladder, complete with financial incentives for gaining advanced childcare qualifications. Make sure you have regular personal development meetings and plan with your staff how they can step up to the next rung of the career ladder.

4. Ramp Up Structure

Children in their formative years need structure in order to thrive — and it’s your job to give it to them. You may think the little ones’ days are already well-structured, but it’s worth reviewing your scheduling. 

Parents don’t like to see children at a loose end, wandering bored around the room. Whether they’ve simply finished an art project before everyone else, or have finished their game with only five minutes left to lunch — it’s always worth having a simple backup activity to fill those extra minutes.

5. Separate Children by Age

While a one-year age gap seems like no difference at all amongst adults, the developmental gap is massive in children experiencing their formative years. To truly step up your childcare centre, work towards separating each age group out in different rooms, with different activities for each year. Not only will this boost their development, but it will provide the framework with which to track their progress from year to year. 

In addition to these 5 tips, it’s also important to make sure you have a robust software solution in place to support your staff and make parents’ lives easier. Reach out to us today to find out more about how Kidsoft can help.

Fireside chat

A Virtual Fireside Chat | Kidsoft x ChildcareCRM

How to power connections between parents and your service, particularly at this critical time of the year

Kidsoft recently hosting a virtual fireside chat with our latest integration partner, ChildcareCRM, to discuss how to streamline the experience of enrolling in childcare both for providers and for parents – in a paperless environment.

Join Di Girvin, Kidsoft CEO, and Matt Amoia, ChildcareCRM CEO, as they candidly share their advice on how to power connections between parents and your service particularly at this critical time of the year.

Teacher with three toddlers

ChildcareCRM and Kidsoft Partnership

Teacher with three toddlers

This week Kidsoft, a leader in childcare technology solutions, and ChildcareCRM, the first name in CRM solutions for the childcare industry, announced an integration of their two systems to streamline communication and engagement between parents and centres.

Together, the two companies intend to create a more efficient childcare ecosystem, streamlining the experience of communication from new lead enquiry to enrolled child. The integrated platform is available to childcare centres and their families effective immediately.

The collaboration leverages ChildcareCRM’s trusted platform to engage those parents and build relationships from initial enquiry through to enrolment, as well as the power of Kidsoft’s cloud-based CCS Childcare Management solution. The software offers a range of integrated tools including parent solutions, secure payment gateway, enrolment tools, attendance tracking and booking management.

“Effective communication is so important right now, whether that is with a prospective family or one currently enrolled at a centre,” said Matt Amoia, ChildcareCRM CEO. “We are excited to join with Kidsoft in the effort to streamline the technology a centre uses to engage and communicate with families, while also creating efficiency in their day-to-day operations on the backend.” 

Kidsoft CEO, Di Girvin said, “In the ever-changing landscape of today’s childcare industry partnerships such as the one between ChildcareCRM and Kidsoft are crucial to success. It’s imperative that to build longevity and to create best of breed childcare centres that put children first, a collaborative approach with experts in this space is necessary. It not only allows childcare centres to focus on what they do best but also provides peace of mind to both educators and families. The seamless integration will not only improve the parent experience but also the educators, in the process saving our customers time to focus on other important tasks”

How to get started

  1. Connect ChildcareCRM to Kidsoft
    Connect your Kidsoft account to ChildcareCRM
  2. Import Data
    Kidsoft connects to ChildcareCRM’s API and automatically syncs your waitlist data to Kidsoft creating a waitlist record ready to offer an enrolment at your service.
  3. Online Enrolment Process
    Using Kidsoft’s online enrolment facility, guardians create a secure iParentPortal account and complete an enrolment form.
  4. Track Conversion Rates Live
    Utilise live Insights to track lead conversion with ChildcareCRM and Kidsoft data sync.
Children with smiley faces painted on hands

Securing 2021 Occupancy

Securing Occupancy banner

As we draw closer to the end of another year, for services this means starting the re-enrolment process for the new year and saying goodbye to children who are off on their next adventure – school!

The Kidsoft team have compiled some of their tips ‘n tricks to assist Services during this busy time. We’ve developed a series of bite sized tutorial videos covering each feature.

Take the stress out of manual enrolment administration with iEnrol, Kidsoft’s powerful customer relationship management (CRM) feature inclusive in your Kidsoft account. 

Kidsoft iEnrol settings support families who have waitlisted through iEnrol previously, pre-populating the enrolment form with their details. Families simply need to check that the information is correct, updating any details that may have changed, and then request the days they require for the new year. Embrace a paper free re-enrolment and invite your existing families to record their preferred dates for 2021 via iEnrol.

Mother with child and laptop

Service Occupancy

At a quick glance, once your existing families start to re-enrol, you can refer to the Vacancies Menu to determine how many openings you have for new children. This will then allow you to adjust rosters accordingly. To assist in an increase in your service occupancy we would recommend the Utilisation Report which will highlight how many vacancies are available in order to up-sell additional days to families. 

CCS Bulk Booking Editor

In most services, children transition to a new room each year. The CCS Bulk Booking Editor allows services to move an entire room, or a handful of children. If services have a fee change that is determined by age, the booking types can also be updated in bulk using this feature.

Exit Child Feature

The end of the year also sees the end of enrolments with children heading off to school, re locating etc.
The Exit Child Feature is a one stop shop, allowing users to complete all the applicable steps associated to when a child exits the service.

We're here for you

Most importantly we want all of our customers to know that we’re here for you. If you need any support, have questions or would like to seek advice during this unprecedented time please reach out. Our team are available Monday to Friday from 8:30 to 5pm whether via phone, email or in person. We’d love to hear from you and support you in any way we can.

Children with building blocks

Being, belonging, becoming… but what else is in the EYLF?

Children with building blocks

When the early years learning framework (EYLF) first came out in 2010, many educators were quick to latch on to “the 3 B’s” – the core elements of the EYLF – being, belonging, becoming.  

Overnight, belonging walls, wooden signs and displays showing all the different ways children “belonged” to a service popped up, and the learning outcomes which “proved” the 3 Bs were latched on to.  

What was, and remains, less familiar to the sector are the principles and practices which sit under the core elements of the EYLF. All too often, the first section of the EYLF is something which is flipped through in a hurry to reach “the important stuff” of the learning outcomes.  

By flipping past, some of the most important elements of the EYLF may be missed. When read as a whole, it quickly becomes clear that the framework is exactly that – each part is held up by a scaffold of principles and practices, and these rich elements can take documentation, planning, and many other aspects of working with children to the next level.  

While it’s understandable that in an environment where there are so many competing demands of rostering, staffing, child protection issues, menus, compliance…and a global pandemic… that the view “any shortcut is a good shortcut”, skipping over the principles and practices means children’s learning is reduced to “tick a box”, and educators become compliance monitors rather than the creative and spontaneous practitioners we know them to be.  

For many years, under previous curriculum models, educators felt constrained, having to fit into pre-defined boxes, and meet various elements of curriculum, whether or not they were right for their service.  

We finally have a model that allows services the space to create programming and curriculum which suits them, but many services are defaulting to “out of the box” solutions which are quick, generic, and “one size fits all”. The principles of the EYLF can help services to dig in and learn more about what they believe about children, and work to make this connect with the need to work under an approved learning framework. 

What are the principles? 

The EYLF has five principles that reflect contemporary theories and research evidence concerning children’s learning and early childhood pedagogy. They are designed to underpin the practices which take place within a service, and are focused on assisting all children to make progress in relation to the Learning Outcomes.  

The five principles are; 

1. Secure, Respectful And Reciprocal Relationships:
This principle speaks to the need for educators to prioritise nurturing relationships with children, and to help children to develop the skills to return the same nurture to themselves and to others.
 

2. Partnerships:
In this principle, educators are reminded of the importance of working as a member of a “team” in the life of a child, where everyone values the knowledge and contributions that other team members make in a child’s life, as well as communicating respectfully and sharing their thinking and decision making with other team members. 

3. High Expectations And Equity:
Here, educators are encouraged to believe in all children’s capacities to succeed, regardless of diverse circumstances and abilities, and to recognise and respond to barriers to children achieving educational success.
 

4. Respect For Diversity:
When educators adhere to principle four, they are recognising that there are many ways of living, being and of knowing, and that children come into their care  with a culture, which is not only influenced by traditional practices, heritage and ancestral knowledge, but also by the experiences, values and beliefs of individual families and communities.
 

5. Ongoing Learning And Reflective Practice:
As educators come to understand themselves, and those they work with more deeply, they become co-learners, with children, families and communities, valuing the continuity and richness of local knowledge. Reflective practice is a form of ongoing learning that asks educators to grapple with questions of philosophy, ethics and practice. 

By digging more deeply into the EYLF, educators can add layers of meaning not only to their documentation and programming, but also to their professional and pedagogical practices. Far more than just a prelude to the learning outcomes, the principles and practices of the EYLF offer educators a window to understand more about themselves and the learning of the children in their care.  

Further resources:  
Community Community Child Care Co-operative Ltd (NSW) – Living practice with the EYLF 
The Early Years Learning Framework Professional Learning Program – Thinking about Practice 
Department of Social Services – Living the EYLF everyday team meeting package