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One huge advantage to going digital is that you get the opportunity to do the work when it suits you.
Having access to all the information you need on any computer, mobile device, or tablet means that you don’t have to carry bundles of paper around with you just for when you do get that quiet minute. Or if you're on the middle of a forest walk and want to update your staff and parents - digital options like software let you do that from wherever you are.
Remember that feeling when you finally get time to work on that journal or paperwork you’ve been putting off for days, and you realise you’ve left the crucial piece of paper somewhere else? Not a problem. Running a nursery is chaotic at the best of times - this way you can get things done when you need to.
Whether we like it or not, everyone is connected to technology nowadays. As a nursery, this gives you options to improve communication and collaboration more than ever before.
Sites like MailChimp make sending out regular newsletters to both potential parents and existing ones incredibly simple. You can use Google Drive to easily share and collaborate on documents with your staff.
Or you can share messages, learning journals, calendars, photographs, and videos with parents right from your nursery management software. Taking it digital, particularly if you can access it right from your phone, is something paper just can’t compete with.
One big concern with choosing to take your nursery digital is a fear over security.
If you're uploading email addresses to send newsletters, or inputting children's information to your sofware - is it safe? Can you trust the platform or software you're using? While there’s no doubt that there’s a sense of reassurance in keeping important documents offline, many of the concerns over security in the digital age are unfounded.
Many digital solutions now work using The Cloud, and this software and the people that host it are subject to increasingly tight security measures. Of course, before you use any software using The Cloud, make sure you thoroughly check their security policies if you’ll be sharing sensitive information. A good yardstick to look for is whether they comply with the General Data Protection Regulation.
If you're thinking about software, have a look at what they're doing with GDPR, where their servers are, and if they make sure data security is a priority. They should absolutely have this on their website.
We can’t promise every piece of digital software is going to shave hours off your day, but there are some common ways that choosing to go digital will help you get some time back.
In general, digital software will help remove some of the manual processes that are taking up time you just don’t need to spend. That could be data entry, making calculations that could be done automatically, signing children and staff in and out in seconds, or sending parents direct messages instead of spending time calling and emailing. Either way, this is one of the main draws of a system that is intended to help you do your job more quickly.
What else? Well, quicker access to information for one!
Everything you need is at your fingertips. You save on organisation time when a system can collate all the information into one place. Take a calendar function where others can RSVP on their side, or a function to let parents request extra sessions or lunches from their phones. This will save you having to chase up everyone you need to hear from, and minimise those admin headaches.
OK, so going digital probably isn’t going to make an ‘Outstanding’ drop right into your lap. But having online learning journals, documents, registers and staff-to-child ratios at your fingertips certainly makes backing your practice up to the inspectors a whole lot easier.
What’s more, having that information easily accessible often makes staff and parent collaboration much smoother, which, as all practitioners know, is absolutely key to running a successful nursery.
One of the greatest perks of using modern software is how well it integrates across different devices. So when you update some information on your computer, it automatically does so on your phone, and all of your teacher’s phones and computers, too. No need to make sure you update it umpteen times. No more making sure everyone has the absolute latest copy of everything.
As things tend to autosave too, all you need to do is head on in, make the change, and exit knowing that that change will be there next time anybody logs in. And the less time you spend worrying if you've remembered to photocopy the latest cleaning policy or lunch menu, the better.
We know there are a lot of options out there, but the main thing to note is how much a digital solution can save you time, and make your day-to-day a lot easier. You shouldn't have to do everything single-handedly, so software and digital solutions can just be the little helping hand you need. The less time you spend on admin, the more time you have to spend with the little ones.
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.