9 digital tools for a smarter nursery business

From employee planning and newsletters, to nursery management software, we give you all the tips.
A nursery manager working on admin on the computer
January 16, 2022
Reading time:
a light bulb with the letter p inside it

a black and white image of two hearts

famly icon - piggy bank

a black and white image of two houses



a black and white image of a bunny and a bottle


a black and white heart icon

With Famly since

What’s your attitude towards digital? A nursery manager’s job nowadays is more varied than ever before, and they need to make sure that they keep up on where the action is happening – online.

Parents expect communication straight to their pocket. Staff expect to be able to work and collaborate online. And let’s face it, the right technology can make your life more hassle-free, simpler, and save you precious time.

So here’s just some of our favourite tools, many of which we use ourselves in the Famly office, as do the hundreds of early years customers that we talk to every day.

1. Employee planning

Pretty much does what it says on the tin. There are various different tools that do slightly different things, but they’re all about keeping your organisation, planning and communication in one place.

Why do I need it?

They’re particularly useful for part-time staff. These tools reduce the never-ending back and forth that comes with trying to fit staffing around holiday, differing schedules and ratios.

Any suggestions?
  • WhenIWork – Sends people updates of when they’re working and helps you handle time-off requests. Claims to save an average of 8 hours a week for businesses.
  • Doodle Polls – Create quick, shareable polls to get easy feedback on people’s preferences, whether you’re planning an event, need to organise a staff meeting, or need people’s sizes to order uniforms.
  • Famly – Easily see required staffing against what’s scheduled and real attended hours. Input ratios to make sure you're always correctly staffed across all your rooms.

2. Parent communication

As well as being an EYFS requirement, parental partnerships support children's wellbeing and inform their care. Plus, parents want to celebrate their child's learning and achievement as much as you love to share it, so why not make it easy?

Why do I need it?

Daily diaries and paper sheets often spend a lot of time going to and from early years settings in backpacks and not a lot of time being read. If parents are missing important updates on your notice board, or not reading the emails you send, it's time to try another way.

Any suggestions?
  • Famly - From daily updates to instant messaging and automatic reminders, all your parent communication in one place, our Parent Portal. Share observations, invite parents to events, send photos and videos, or just let them know what their child ate for lunch.

3. Sharing documents

Send documents back and forth with other people in your team, without having to endlessly email or worry whether you’re working on the latest draft.

Why do I need it?

Whether you’re creating documents for parents, sending out a rota, or sharing key data and figures with your team, these services will help you share easily, and keep everything safe just where you need it.

Any suggestions?
  • Google Drive – Something we use every day. Share and collaborate on documents, spreadsheets, presentations and more. Starting with over 15GB of storage for free.
  • Dropbox – One of the most popular services out there, Dropbox offers 2GB of free storage and loads of intuitive applications to make working together even easier.
  • Famly – Share policies and procedures, practice guidance, and curriculum documents with staff right there in-app, all in one place.

Looking for nursery management software?

Try our comprehensive Early Childhood Platform. Get every software tool you need to run your setting, manage your finances, and put the children first.

Learn more here

4. Nursery management software

Systems range hugely in terms of features, price and quality, but most are about ensuring that you have everything you need all in one place. They can help speed up invoicing, registration, observations, occupancy control, optimise enquiries and registration – the list is endless.

Why do I need it?

OK, so we know we might be a little biased on this one. But with every month, more and more nurseries are choosing to take their nursery digital. The software available is leaps and bounds from where it was even a year or two ago, and these more user-friendly systems can genuinely save you hours every single day.

Any suggestions?

5. Social media planning

Instead of posting the same thing to different social media platforms, just make one post and share it across the different platforms with a click. You can even schedule posts to go out later, respond to messages, and see how many people have seen your posts.

Why do I need it?

Part of an effective marketing strategy for any nursery is using social media to talk to parents, both prospective and existing. Being able to schedule all of your posts in one, easy-to-use format can help save countless wasted hours.

Any suggestions?
  • HootSuite – With the HootSuite free plan, you can manage up to three different profiles at once. It helps you to schedule content, understand some basic analytics, and even get started with some basic advertising.
  • Buffer – It’s simple, and lets you manage up to five accounts, schedule content, and see basic analytics. It even comes integrated with free image creator Pablo.

6. Keeping notes

Keep all of your notes, to-do lists and reminders in one place. Even better, they sync across devices. So if you make a note on your computer, it will show up on your phone. Nice.

Why do I need it?

Are you a post-it note addict? I know I am. But when you lose that crucial parent phone number or spend hours searching through your twenty notebooks to find that lesson plan, it can all start to get a little…inconvenient.

Any suggestions?
  • Famly - All your setting's information in one place. Contact details, records of accidents, activity plans, allergies, permissions, bookings and extra sessions- and not a piece of paper in sight. And you can add notes to child and staff profiles, for those extra, post-it worthy bits of information.

7. Recording child development

Gone are the days of pages of hand-written EYFS reports, highlighted tracking sheets, and heavy learning journals full of pages and pages of observations. Recording children's learning and achievement digitally makes life easier for your practitioners, and makes sharing with parents more streamlined.

Why do I need it?

With the new 2021 EYFS, we celebrated the reduction of the amount of paperwork practitioners were expected to produce. A digital system supports this by providing the framework for staff to easily record meaningful observations, so they can get straight back to interacting with the children.

Any suggestions?
  • Famly - Famly allows you to make on-the-go observations, and instantly update online learning journals. You can view reference material from multiple different frameworks, including the new EYFS. You can also create customisable assessments, so you can record learning in the way that works for you.

8. Easier accounting

Helps you manage your money. Taxes, receipts, invoicing, accounting, direct debits. If you’re handling money, you’re probably going to want something to help you with it.

Why do I need it?

To keep track of revenue, and make sure nothing slips through the cracks. If you want to improve your profitability, it’s going to be key to be on top of everything.

Any suggestions?
  • Wave – This free (yes free) accounting software was made for non-accountants, and is very simple to use. You can do accounting, invoicing and receipt scanning for free, and pay per transaction for money collection. Lacks some of the customisations of more expensive services.
  • Quickbooks/SagePay/Xero – These are the three big guns. Used by most nurseries in the UK, take a look at what they offer to find the service that suits what you need from accounting software.

9. Improve your writing

Everything from ironing out those common grammar and spelling mistakes, to helping you communicate in simple, readable language.

Why do I need it?

Reports, observations, messaging staff, communicating with parents – it all matters how you write. Keeping your writing clear and free of spelling mistakes is crucial to making your business look professional.

Any Suggestions?
  • Grammarly – Probably my favourite tool on the whole list. Add it as an extension to your internet browser, and it’ll automatically spell check all your work, and give you suggestions to improve your grammar. Never make a mistake again.
  • Hemingway App – Put any text into this app, and it’ll give you advice on how to make your writing easy to read. It’s that simple.
  • Famly - With the 'Send for review' option on observations, you can catch any spelling or grammar errors made by your team, before those observations go to our parent portal. You can make notes of what you'd like the writer to work on and then 'Request changes', all right there in the app.

The big ideas

download pdf
graphical user interface, text, application
Official Danish Government Reopening Advice

Guidance from the Danish Health Ministry, translated in full to English.

Picture of a Guidance document
UK Nursery Covid-19 Response Group Recommendations

The full recommendations from a working group of over 70 nursery chains in the UK.

Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.

Get famly free

Try learning journals for free

Add observations, and build digital learning journals to share with families instantly. All with your completely free 14-day trial.

Get started