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Time is money, and child care workers deserve more of both.
But while getting more money into our early education services proves difficult, there’s one immediate solution we can try: saving time.
In recent years, the top time-saving tool in early education has been child care management software. The right set of digital management tools can whisk away the tedious administrative tasks and automate your paperwork with just a tap. That leaves you and your team with more time, energy and focus for the tasks in early education that really bring you joy.
Seen from a bird’s eye view, child care software is a huge time-saver in these four areas:
In this article, I’ll walk through these one by one, and go into detail about exactly how the right child care management software can take care of those clunky manual processes, and put time back in your day.
But before we get to that, let’s look at why time saving is so critical in the first place.
A lot of different software promises to save you time. Accounting programs, car insurance providers, food delivery apps, and thousands more businesses might lay claim to the same benefit.
But within the context of early education, time saving takes on a new meaning, because we’re dealing with the growth and wellbeing of a whole generation of children. In your field, an hour saved on paperwork can mean more time for lesson plans, and learning that children carry with them for life.
Let’s look at two big ways where time-saving is so valuable in early education:
Parent engagement can be one of your biggest time sinks in early education. But it’s also a critical part of the process — so your focus should be on parent communication that’s seamless and effective.
If you’re not already using child care software, your parent communications are likely a little scattered. It’s common for educators to rely on a clunky collage of email chains, WhatsApp chats, Facebook groups, personal phone numbers and voicemails to pass along vital info.
But juggling so many lines of contact eats up lots of precious time, and offers too many opportunities for vital info to slip through the cracks.
Let's look at all the features that can save you time with parent engagement at your child care center:
It may seem simple, but the all-in-one messaging is number one on that list for a reason. Candice Chouinard, Director of Wild Garden of Childhood in Massachusetts, was using eleven different forms of media to keep her families in the loop. But once she picked up Famly’s child care software, it’s the only she needs for parent engagement.
“There’s nothing more important than organization in the everyday routines — but that shouldn’t take all day. We needed our families to have their important information in one place. Then we got Famly, and that’s really allowed us to focus on what matters. We just have more time to focus on the children’s experience, and the wellbeing of our teachers and families.”
Candice Chouinard, Northampton MA
When you make your educators’ jobs easier, your whole child care center feels it.
This is a big area where time-saving scales quickly. If software can save each of your 20 staff members two hours a week, you’ve suddenly freed up a full five-day work week of time within your program.
And when it comes to saving your team time (and headaches), we’ll start at the most practical level: sorting out your staff schedules.
A good digital platform should put your team’s schedules right in their pockets — no more printed calendars hanging on the wall, or waiting for a text Sunday night to get your shifts for the week. Management software (like Famly) digitalizes your team’s schedules, so swapping a shift becomes as easy as sending a text.
To understand how this saves time in your daily practice, it can help to imagine these features in action. So when you’re taking a look at employee management features in child care software, it’s worth asking these questions:
It can feel like a juggling act to make sure you’re staying within ratio in every classroom.
Charting that out on paper (or even in a spreadsheet) takes time. And if a teacher calls in sick or you get a few more children in on short notice, you’ve got to crunch the numbers all over again. This sort of program planning requires a lot of detailed administrative work, which can soon snowball into too many hours out of your week.
Here’s another key area where a little automation goes a long way.
Using Famly as an example, let’s look at two big ways you’ll save time here:
In early education, money can be both a time sink and a big source of stress.
Payment processing isn’t just a paperwork hassle, but also a potentially prickly subject that can strain parent relationships. But at FLEET Early Learning Station in Shawnee, Kansas, director Tara Van Fleet says one software solution made it all much simpler: Famly.
For Tara, Famly works precisely because it’s humming away in the background. The features she shows up front to parents, and where she’s able to concentrate her focus, are on all the tools that help parents and educators connect around their children’s growth.
“Parents like that Famly Pay is just integrated, all-in one, and easy,” Tara says. “When I explain billing to parents, I just go, yeah, it’s all in one. You just press a button and it’s done.”
At FLEET, sending out weekly invoices for tuition now takes just a half hour each week.
A couple taps is all it takes to send out auto-generated invoices to every family, who receive it in their own online portal in the Famly app. They can give it a look and pay early if they like, or just let the payment auto-process on Sunday evening.
Tara says this simple process not only cuts down her team’s workload, but also allows them to reclaim more time in her weekends to share with her family. There’s no more Sunday nights spent screening for late payments — and because the bills go through automatically, Tara’s team no longer has to chase down parents for missing tuition fees.
If you’d like to learn more about how Famly gives Tara and her team more time back in each week, you can read their full story right here.
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.