Working in the childcare business is one of the most rewarding activities for anyone with a caring nature. But it can be one of the most strenuous too. Children can be hard work, and
the hours of looking after them can be long, meaning that this role isn’t one for the faint of
Additionally, roles in childcare aren’t as secure as they used to be too, as alternative
development options have been sprouting.
In fact, the COVID-19 pandemic has led to thousands of nurseries temporarily closing, and some being forced to close for good due to the lack of financial support.
It’s not a secret that you will need a considerable initial investment to get your private sector nursery off the ground. Although charity and non-profit early years organizations are typically founded because of a need, they are still extremely underfunded and all facilities are subject to the same kind of unpredictability as this.
To stay afloat and ensure your school survives the unprecedented, it must function efficiently and effectively. Investments must be made cautiously and you must always think of the long term.
However, there are ways to maximize the efficiency of your nursery and operate it in a way that helps to cut costs while still maintaining its effectiveness. The main way to do this is to implement various pieces of technology which can help nursery owners and staff. Many sectors have already adopted technology to boost their industry, with examples such as education and business analysis. However, childcare has stayed somewhat traditional and hasn’t seemed to be so quick to adopt new technology. Here's a look at some of the tech that can help an underfunded nursery thrive and provide a good level of care for all its children.
Centralized Digital Storage
Centralized online storage is simply a kind of cloud storage that manages your records and documents online. Most of the time it’s instantly saved and can be accessed anywhere via an internet connection.
Think of it as your nursery management software.
Not only is it useful to have all of your important documents in one place, but it improves the security of your nursery. No more folders of paperwork and important documents lying around. Nurseries have a lot of critical information about the children in their care as well as their families. This information can be desirable for criminals and hackers. As a small business, nurseries are one of the biggest industries under threat of cyber attacks, and that’s simply because most don’t have the right infrastructure to keep their documents and information safe.
Adopting cloud technology will help improve your business as it provides sophisticated data security solutions, such as advanced endpoint encryption. By storing your documents within this cloud storage space, you’ll make it harder for people to hack your documents and obtain critical information.
Furthermore, having all of your documents online is efficient, it can be shared with your whole team, and accessed within seconds by any authorized member, regardless of where they are. As long as they have a device with internet access and the login details for their account, the files stored on a cloud system can be accessed from anywhere at any time. This can allow some members of your team to work from home and always be contactable, which can boost the efficiency of your nursery.
Let’s say you have a spreadsheet that tracks the daily expenses involved in the running of your nursery. This document can be accessed and edited in real-time by any member of your team, eliminating the need for meetings and time-consuming catch-ups.
Software that is specifically designed for the settings you are running will be most effective for your business. Although they should have all you need and act as a centralized workspace or storage, they should also be customizable to individual requirements, such as specific invoicing requirements.
Digitizing processes, for the billing functionality alone, can not only save time, but it ensure your resources are being used efficiently. Moreover, it means that files never go missing and can be shared with whoever needs to pay the bill.
Using the cloud can also help with storing and accessing learning resources. With the huge storage space offered by these services, you will be able to keep multiple things like worksheets, quizzes, picture books, videos, and even movies which you will be able to access at any time to use at your nursey. It’s this cloud technology that has made online learning such a huge possibility, as students of all ages can now access all their resources online, be it if they’re an infant learning phonics or if they’re training, nurse completing an accelerated nursing degree.
Within a nursery role, there are many repetitive, administrative tasks that need to be done that can take up a lot of time and limit the opportunities a member of staff has with their children. Things such as logging attendance, managing finances, and other forms of data input are hugely essential and can’t be ignored, but aren't using the skills of a nursery worker to their fullest potential.
The nursery staff’s main aim is to help the development and care of children and not waste their time updating spreadsheets. Thankfully, with the help of technology, many of these tasks can be made a lot easier by implementing specialized software designed to focus on a sole task.
For example, take Microsoft Spreadsheet or Google Docs. Although these pieces of software are perfectly capable of helping you build a schedule, or manage your finances, or track attendance, they don’t excel at any of them because it's not designed to. This means a lot of functionality that could help with a specific task is missing, making the process longer.
By adopting a piece of software designed especially for a single task, you will find that you will be able to complete tasks faster and more effectively because it will have all the functionality you need built-in.
Say if you adopt a specialized software like QuickBooks to manage your financing and taxes. Instead of having to work out VAT yourself and developing formulas to figure out how much each member of staff is owed, the software will have functionality where it can work all that out automatically, saving you and your nursey a huge amount of time.
Furthermore, some pieces of software can manage a task automatically, without much input from a staff member at all. This is called automation and can revolutionize the way that your nursery functions. By using specialized and automotive software, you will be able to complete tasks at a rapid rate, meaning that more time can be spent teaching the children and looking after them. This can make your entire nursey more effective and then more attractive for potential parents as a result.
Digital activity planner
If you are operating an underfunded nursery, you’ll agree there’s little room for error and no time to waste. Every day is a new opportunity to improve your nurseries’ wellbeing and educational standard.
Well, a digital activity planner can help you a lot.
Essentially, it’s like a virtual planner that allows you to set out a clear framework for whatever you need. For example, you may need a classroom schedule or teaching structure.
Saving you time, a digital tracking software will allow you to plan ahead and run an efficient nursery.
Depending on the size of your team, Asana, a team management software, can be used to organize projects, manage teams, and create a more efficient work environment.
The software is extremely easy to navigate and works on a project/task assignment basis. The tasks can then be assigned to employees, quickly and easily. It’s that simple.
The great thing about Asana is that it’s free for a workforce of 15 teammates. If your team is larger than this, Google Calendar is a free alternative that can be shared with your workforce, but it’s not as convenient to use.
Planning in this way allows for much greater collaboration, as all members of staff can work on the rota at the same time. This can help avoid issues such as double booking staff and ensures that things are running far more smoothly. Furthermore, digital planning gives you a lot more functionality than planning in a physical calendar does.
For example, with digital planners, you’ll be able to organize meetings and invites from the app, saving you a lot of time and hassle. If you also have an appointment to keep, you can also use these pieces of software to set reminders and alerts so that you always know what you need to do.
These plans are also shareable, meaning that if you’re; building an itinerary, you will be able to send that to both current and prospective parents so that they can get an idea of what is planned for their children.
Staying in the loop and communicating effectively with your team is vital to the daily operation of your nursery. With so much stuff going on at once and multiple children to look after and be accountable for, knowing what everyone else is doing and keeping all updated is essential.
Communication software such as Skype is a good piece of technology to get, as it allows nursery workers to communicate with the rest of the team either on an individual basis or a group. It also gives you the option to speak to your fellow staff via a video link, which can be great if you need to conduct meetings remotely. This technology can also be great for interacting with children who may not be able to attend the nursery due to illness. With Skype, teachers can make video calls with the child and their parents and provide a quick lesson to ensure that their development doesn’t drop due to them missing out on contact time. Nursery teachers can also share their screens to help them perform this remote lesson. One of the best ways of doing this is by implementing a chatbot on your nursery website. This is a location where many parents are going to go if
they have any questions. By being able to ask questions to an artificial-intelligence-powered chatbot, common, easy-to-answer queries will be able to be solved, and if not, the software will be able to direct the parent to the appropriate communication channel to follow up their question. Chatbots might sound like sci-fi, but they’re actually pretty easy to set up, and there are many external businesses that can add one to your website to make it a lot more professional and make your nursery business far more contactable.
It’s just as important to reply to inquiries quickly so you can generate a strong reputation and be trusted by students’ parents.
There are multiple early-years specific technologies that are approved and appropriate to use within these environments. You can set up specific strings of communication both internally and with parents to notify relevant parties of any updates or changes. This is a cost and time-effective way to communicate remotely or during play.
Increasing the efficiency of an underfunded nursery is hard, and it’s going to require a lot of work, but it’s not impossible.
It all comes down to the daily operation of your nursery, running a smooth show, having a stress free day, and staying on top of things. As we have highlighted, at the heart of efficiency is technology. And the best is designed specifically for the setting you are in, whether that’s a nursery, a primary school, an afterschool or holiday club.
If this is the first time you have integrated technology into your workspace it may take some time to adjust, but embracing change and committing to the technologies mentioned above will serve you well in the long term. And as we mentioned at the beginning, you should always be thinking about the long term.