Center Management

Prime Child Care 3.0

Prime Child Care version 3.0 has been released, and with it come a whole host of new features.  Here are some of the highlights…

  • Completely new interface
  • Global search
  • Module home pages
    • Module search
    • Important info at a glance
    • Tools
  • Customizable Overview
  • Advanced student scheduling
    • Planned schedule changes
    • Schedule history
  • Invoice Late Fees
  • Holiday Credits – planned and unplanned
  • New report builder with data export capability

3 Lies About Daycare Teacher Evaluations

No one cheers when you announce there will be a staff evaluation soon. There’s no party, no clapping, and certainly no smiles. That’s because there are a lot of myths, misconceptions, and outright lies about the evaluation process. If you want to make the process go smoother, there are a few things can do, starting with explaining what an evaluation is, and addressing those myths.

What Are Daycare Teacher Evaluations?

For your staff, it may feel like a chance for you to find out what they’re doing wrong and hold it over their head. That’s not the reason behind a teacher evaluation, however, so it’s best to explain what an evaluation is, why you need to do it, and how it’s going to affect their position at your daycare. An evaluation is a tool to see where your staff and school as a whole are currently at. It also helps you decide how you want to progress, and helps you decide the best way to get there. It’s really that simple. Evaluations are also something you shouldn’t avoid doing, even if it is stressful to both you and your employees.

Daycare Teacher Evaluations are Important

An evaluation is a great way to get to know your employees. They aren’t clones, obviously, which is a good thing. By doing an evaluation, you learn the teaching style of your staff. Some teachers may be focused on having fun and doing crafts while others are far more structured. As you have new children come in and kids moving to a higher age classroom, putting them with the right teacher is important. One child may thrive in a room where they get to do messy art projects every day, while it would cause another child to have a meltdown. The teacher with a more structured classroom may be a better fit for a child who learns better when they have a set schedule that is followed every day. Evaluations are also important for learning where a teacher may be struggling and getting them the help they need. If a teacher is great at reading but struggles with discipline, that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Give them tips on how to maintain discipline, without being judgmental about it. It will help your staff members grow, as well as helping you to improve your daycare center.

3 Lies About Daycare Staff Evaluations

1. Only certain employees will perform well because they’re the Director’s buddy

It’s been said you get the score you earn, and that should be especially true on a staff evaluation. This fear can be combated by being upfront about what you’re going to evaluate. If your teachers aren’t meeting a certain standard, they should feel comfortable talking to you about it beforehand, so they can improve.

2. All reviews are negative

No staff evaluation should be all bad. Your staff shouldn’t walk out the door feeling like they can’t do anything right. While Harvard Business Review reports that most people don’t like feedback, your employees should feel like they’re at least doing something correct when they leave your office.

3. Someone is going to get fired, and I think that someone is me

That’s a fear everyone has when it comes time for evaluations. While there may arise a time when this is necessary, it certainly isn’t going to be every time an evaluation takes place.

6  Ways to Make Daycare Evaluations Less Stressful and More Collaborative

  1. The first step in helping your staff become less stressed out is to explain to them why you’re doing this evaluation. Make it clear that you’re not head-hunting. Then live by what you state. Meet with your staff individually, or have a meeting. An individual meeting might be better, because your staff can ask questions without fear of being judged by their coworkers.
  2. When you go in the room to begin the evaluation, start with a smile. Then have open body language, and make it look like you’re relaxed. If you come in with a scowl, throw your things down, and are angrily jabbing your tablet, your staff members are going to think they’re doing something wrong even if they’re not.
  3. When you go over the report, be honest with your employee. State what they did right, and then discuss how they can improve.
  4. If you want your employees to collaborate with an evaluation, then give them a reason to. When you give them feedback on how to improve, then back them up on it. There’s nothing worse than being told you did something wrong, but when you ask for advice, the person just shrugs and say they don’t know. If you don’t have a solution or advice, perhaps hold off on bringing it up until you do some research.
  5. Collaboration is crucial to making an evaluation effective, so give your teachers a chance to speak. According to Entrepreneur, you should encourage your employees to speak up. They may have some great ideas that you could incorporate to take your daycare center to the next level.
  6. Build the relationship. It takes time, but it’s worth it. If your employees know they can trust you, then an evaluation will be less stressful for everyone involved.

Prime Software Can Make Life Easier

While paper copies worked for several years, it’s far from efficient. There are many risks involved with relying on paper copies that range from copies being lost to posing a security risk. Prime Software helps eliminate many of these risks by keeping all your files at your fingertips. The days of losing an important document are over. All you need to do is open up the correct file, and download the information. Prime Software is perfect for using in a staff evaluation because you can easily view the current evaluation versus past evaluations. You’ll be able to see where each staff member is struggling, and more importantly, where they are excelling. Simply look under the teacher profile, and you’re good to go. Prime Software also allows you to perform HR actions, create your own mobile app, and streamline your payment process. Contact Prime Child Care for more information about what Prime Software is and how it can help streamline your daycare center.

4 Ways Your Daycare Franchise Can Be Successful in the New Normal

The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted business in virtually all industries and sectors, perhaps forever. With seemingly no end to the coronavirus crisis and its ravages, daycare franchising and businesses worldwide are fighting for their survival and shifting their operations to accommodate the new normal.

In nearly every economic sector today, the businesses that survive the pandemic will need to change how they operate and interact with consumers. The coronavirus has forced every daycare franchise across the U.S. to rethink its operations. Survival and success will require franchisors to support their franchisees and their customers by pivoting their business models and processes to suit the changing marketplace.

Moving forward, daycares centers should formulate and implement both short-term and long-term strategies for recovery. They should also address what consumers require right now – protection from the virus and a safe place to take their kids as they work – and position their brand to meet those needs.

Ways Daycare Franchises Can Achieve Operational Efficiency in Uncertain Times

While the COVID-19 pandemic has wrought havoc globally, things must go on as the need for products and services resumes – although reshaped by the crisis to some extent. As such, businesses and franchises should remain open to new opportunities and re-evaluate their operations to ensure efficiency, survive the pandemic, and even thrive. Here’s how:

1. Adapt for Change

After the initial lockdown imposed across the U.S., daycare franchises had to navigate reopening at the height of the pandemic and ensure parents that they were taking all safety measures to safeguard children’s safety. They took steps in compliance with government COVID-19 prevention guidelines and new regulatory requirements. These included:

  • Ensuring social distancing in daycare centers and during pickup and drop off points
  • Frequently cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and indoor fixtures
  • Practicing good hand hygiene among all children and staff members
  • Wearing facemasks at work
  • Keeping small group sizes of about six kids in home-based programs and eight in centers
  • Symptoms screening

These are some of the changes that daycare franchises should implement moving forward. But to survive the crisis, attract more business, and quell parents’ fears, centers need to adapt for change moving forward.

Therefore, rather than trying to upgrade their old systems and processes, they now have the chance to implement new and more impactful digital strategies and solutions. For example, franchise businesses can opt to implement center-centric solutions like Prime Childcare Software built for multi-center chains and franchises.

Daycare franchises that openly address how they keep staff and children safe will most likely win during and after the pandemic winds down.

2. Connect with Customers

Right now, it’s vital to strengthen connections with existing customers – in this case, parents. As habits and preferences rapidly change in response to the pandemic, you must show parents that you are willing and able to meet their new reality regarding safety measures. Connecting with parents and other stakeholders remotely must be at the center of your strategy.

3. Create Synergy

Examine your existing business infrastructure and plan and identify what other services you can offer to diversify or expand your business now. What existing resources, such as trained staff, transportation network, equipment, and more, can you adapt to offer new, different services. Find one or more needs that fit your current daycare operation and fill them.

4. Give Peace of Mind

Look at your daycare business through your customers’ eyes and identify what they need presently to give the added assurance and increase their peace of mind during COVID-19. Think of how you can alter your web presence, marketing, and branding to bolster that reassurance and trust. Parents require assurance that their children are safe with a pandemic-prepared daycare center like yours.

How Prime Can Help Franchises Run More Efficiently

Prime Childcare Software has an enterprise solution that allows franchise businesses to combine centralized and local management seamlessly. It makes it easy for the owners and executive management teams of multiple centers to stay connected to their locations. Prime allows you to view critical management and operational processes across a broad array of functions inside all your locations.

For example, you can view the check-in and check-out procedures implemented and followed by your child care locations to ensure child safety during the COVID-19 pandemic. You can also view expenses and profitability, manage resource loading and scheduling, and oversee invoicing and tuition collection from a central location.

Prime also provides the following operational capabilities:

  • Payment processing using an enterprise payment module
  • Hassle-free registration and enrollment
  • Fluid parent communication to help build and retain their clients
  • Human resource payroll management
  • Automated billing and online payments

Prime offers all these and more child care franchise services on a single cloud-based commercial site with a super-convenient mobile childcare app. Contact us today and schedule your appointment to get started.

6 Secrets to Help Toddlers Develop a Love for Reading

In an era of digital distractions, it is becoming more challenging for children to find time for what they consider an outdated practice-”reading”. According to a study done by Literacy Trust, children today read less often than any prior generation and enjoy reading less compared to past generations. Yet reading is a fundamental skill that children need to learn to be successful. Good reading skills benefit the child academically and are an essential skill for lifelong success.

The following tips will help you turn your toddler into an avid reader all through the different life stages:

Take advantage of reading technology.

Modern technology is changing the way we do things, including how your kid interacts with reading materials. Cutting edge technology, like tablet e-readers, can positively impact your kid and how they view reading. Importantly, their self-esteem and confidence tend to rise as they interact more and more with these modern reading platforms. Besides, E-readers allow for resizing the font size and can be adapted to meet each child’s specific reading needs and make reading such a fun-filled activity. They are also adaptive for children with learning disabilities and help level the playing ground for kids who learn differently.

Show a lot of interest in their reading.

Positive feedback and response will go a long way in turning your kid into an excellent reader. You must show a lot of interest in your child’s reading skills.

Make sure to give them genuine praises for every effort they make. Well-thought-out praises are positive reinforcements that make the kid do better in his reading journey. However, avoid some of the popular generic praise phrases that may have counterproductive. Research on ideal motivating phrases to use when praising your child’s efforts and achievements

Create a special reading place

The reading environment can impact your kid’s attitude towards reading. Create an ideal reading fort that boasts of interesting additions such as glowing lights, comfy pillows, and special decorations. There is a strong correlation between confidence and comfort, and when a kid is feeling comfortable, they will focus more and enjoy their reading tasks. Besides, when you create a special place for reading, you are helping the kid associate the activity of reading with being cozy and safe. The child will grow up with the knowledge that books need a private world and own time and pace.

Be a good role model.

You need to set a good example by reading together with your child. Rather than just telling your kid how reading will benefit them, walk the talk by engrossing yourself in a book each time they are around you. You should also develop a family reading ritual that guarantees you read from the day your child is born until they leave the house. The more the child is exposed to literature, the more reading will become part of their daily life. Find time to read before bed, snuggled in a chair, or sitting together on the couch with each of you reading your own book or from a shared copy. While you are reading, ask your child questions about the book they are reading to help them make connections and share their experiences.

Invest in books

Create a home with many books on a variety of exciting topics appropriate for the child’s age. You can also help the kids choose books on topics that interest them the most and spark a strong passion for reading. Let them accompany you to the library and book stores and show them various books on a range of topics. Importantly, show them how e-readers work to provide entire libraries of options with just a touch of the screen.

Practice shared reading

Sit down with your child and take turns reading. You can alternate pages, sentences, and chapters. Notably, you will ease a lot of pressure and create a deep interest just by being a child’s side reader. Besides, with this strategy, you will be in an excellent position to help the child when they encounter challenges, for example, if they don’t understand a word or context. That said, ensure you make the books come to life when you are reading with the child. Include some fun, hands-on activities that bring a practical aspect to the book. For example, if you read about how to bake bread, go ahead, and bake some. If a book talks about a real place, look it up on the map and, where practical, schedule a visit to that place.

What pre-reading skills do toddlers need to develop?

Before you can teach your child to read, there are critical pre-reading skills for lifelong learning and reading success. The following skills will help establish a healthy reading culture for your kid:

Motivation to read

Children have to be ready and have the right motivation to read books. A child who has the motivation to read shows interest in books and reading and will ask you to read aloud for them. You may also notice them pretend to read. As a parent, you can develop the skill by:

  • Allowing the kid to pick a book they love to read
  • Read to the child daily
  • Read with a lot of enthusiasm

Language skills

Children need to acquire essential language skills to describe things and share knowledge, experiences, and ideas. Children with adequate language skills will answer simple questions about a story. They will also retell a story using their own words. Develop the languages skills by:

  • Asking the child open-ended questions about the story they read
  • Have the child retell the story using a flannel or puppets
  • Encouraging the child to make up their own story

Concepts of print skills

Children need to understand how books work and the general concept of print to quickly learn how to read. A child with this skill will hold the book correctly, turn pages in the right direction, read from top to bottom. You can develop this skill by:

  • Using your finger to track words
  • Pointing specific parts of the book
  • Allowing the child to hold the book and point at word during reading sessions

 Letter knowledge skills

This skill helps the child understand the letters of alphabets in terms of sounds and forms. A child with this skill can name the letters of the alphabet, name each sound, and recognize lowercase and capital letters. You can help the child develop the skill by:

  • Reading alphabet books
  • Use his or her name to teach letters.

The Importance of Reading Aloud To Toddlers

Reading aloud to a child has been proven to improve their cognitive skills and help cognitive development. Reading aloud also provides your toddlers with background knowledge of their world. This helps them make sense of what they see, hear, and read.

12 Books to Read to Toddlers

  • First 100 Board Box Set
  • Brown Hare, What Do You See
  • The Feelings Book
  • The Pout Fish
  • Press Here
  • M Is For Me
  • The Snow Day
  • Mix It Up
  • Green Eggs and Ham
  • Pantone: Colors
  • No No Yes Yes

About Prime Digital Platform

Prime Child Care boasts of the Prime digital platform that facilitates infant and toddler care and ensures you stay connected about anything happening with your child – on any device, anytime and anywhere. It is an ideal tool for child care and early childhood education organizations of all sizes. Besides, child care professionals managing dozens of kids or hundreds of kids will enjoy this intuitive and cost-effective solution.

Key Takeaway

Reading helps the child develop vocabulary, increases their attention span, and promotes strong analytical skills. A recent study reveals that students who spend most of their childhood reading for pleasure did better with their vocabulary, spelling, and math.

If you need help with your daycare management, contact Prime Child Care. We feature easy cloud-based tools to make your Prime working hours more enjoyable and productive.

How to Easily Build Your Daycare’s Budget

Running a daycare center is not an easy task with so much to take care of beyond taking care of children. At the top of your list is likely budgeting and how to keep track of the constant expenses and fees you payout. Some of this may even be government grants to keep your business thriving.

How can you manage it all if you still calculate your budget on paper or on outdated software?  It is time to digitize your business expenses using a more efficient platform.

What budget items should you keep track of so you don’t lose sight of things? Take a minute to learn what to focus on and how best to manage your daycare assets.

Items That Take Up the Bulk of Your Budget

All aspects of child care and teaching can take up to between 50% and 60% of your budget. This usually involves paying teacher salaries and buying classroom equipment. It may also involve all the administrative and enrollment fees required.

Doing a deeper dive, the salary of your daycare teachers could equal multiple thousands of dollars annually. While it depends on how many teachers you employ, a typical daycare teacher salary is $20,320 per year. While this may look low on paper, it can add up considerably if you need a large group of teachers to accommodate child enrollment.

Investments in classroom equipment can also be expensive to provide kids with a decent preschool education. In your main daycare center, you also need to provide toys and other activity items that keep kids occupied to prevent boredom.

With today’s kids growing up with technology, this may mean providing them with tech like tablets or hi-tech games. These are not cheap to purchase compared to items kids played with two or three decades ago.

Administrative Supplies

About 15%-20% of your budget likely goes to administration and supervision tools. In other words, paying out administrative salaries, buying office supplies, and paying your phone bill as just a few.

In the case of administrative salaries, you may have a larger staff in this area than you do with teachers. Your office staff alone may be considerable, which likely include accountants, IT professionals, and even marketers. Their salaries are sometimes considerable.

Investing in office equipment is also very expensive due to technological needs. New computers, printers, scanners, and even mobile devices are essential. All of those cost thousands of dollars, unless finding bargains buying used or refurbished.

Overall, working capital to get your daycare center operational could cost over $31,000 for just eight months. Keeping track of all that is overwhelming if still figuring your expenses on paper.

Food Budget

You also have to feed the kids you care for each day. Buying food, paying kitchen staff, and investing in kitchen equipment starts to add up as much as the other above expenses.

To give kids the healthiest food options possible, you might have to invest in organics, which always cost more. Some kids might also have allergies or other special needs in their diets, leading to extra food purchases to accommodate them.

The typicalsalary of a daycare cook is around $21,802 a year, falling in the ballpark of daycare teachers. While sounding cheaper than an IT technician salary, it still adds up if you employ a team of cooks in the kitchen.

Kitchen supplies are not cheap either, not including the cost of repairs and maintenance to prevent any slowdowns in food preparation.

Occupancy Expenses

Maybe you own the daycare center where you operate. Even then, you have to deal with property taxes every year. In a renting situation, that can become even more expensive.

Consider some states (like Maryland) demand a certain amount of square footage per child you have enrolled. It could mean renting a large facility to fulfill these state rules. A larger place is obviously going to cost you more in rent.

Also, calculate what kind of maintenance you need done in your building on a regular basis. What needs repairing to ensure the safety of your staff and the kids?

Costs of maintenance can sometimes be overlooked if keeping tabs of your expenses on paper. What if you could have a program that looks ahead for you with metrics to show you when you need to invest in repairs?

Other Expenses to Consider

More daycare expenses exist. You likely already know this, but what are the things you currently overlook? Some of your expenses may be more expensive than you realized without using business metrics.

For instance, what are you really paying in way of health insurance for your employees and perhaps for students? If you have your premiums taken out through an autopay system, you might not even know how much you pay per month.

Car insurance and license fees often work the same way. These auto-payment systems are sure to dig into your budget more without you initially realizing it.

When adding in on-site social services, you see how little room you have for-profit without properly monitoring your expense sheets.

What Kind of Business Reporting Software Do You Need?

Going digital with the right business software is the smartest thing you can invest in to avoid costly mistakes. Our Prime Child Care software is available to give you comprehensive business reporting that is easy to analyze and comprehend.

This platform gives you a transparent global view of everything you are doing so you save money where appropriate and eliminate any waste. You get clear financial reports, rosters, operational reports, tax documents, classroom ratios, and so much more.

Plus, you can track some of the more sideline expenses you need to focus on, like government grants. These are often important for daycare centers to keep themselves above water, especially in tough economic times.

We encourage you to try our app to help you get a better visual picture of how your daycare center works. Visit us to learn how you can schedule a free consultation.

5 Tips on Running a Successful Drop-In Program

Drop-in daycare can be a lifesaver for busy parents. Whether they have a last-minute meeting at the office or need a few kid-free hours to get their holiday shopping done, drop-in daycare gives them a trustworthy source for childcare at the last minute. It can be a lucrative revenue stream for your daycare center, too. Before you start a drop-in program, though, it’s important to know the pros and cons of adding one. You’ll need to know how to make a drop-in program successful with the right tips and tools, too.

The Pros and Cons of Offering Drop-In Programs

What’s great about adding a drop-in program to your daycare center?

  • It can be a nice revenue stream for your daycare business. As more parents are working from home, drop-in childcare is becoming a more popular option for families. It’s the perfect solution for those who need occasional childcare for in-person meetings or for a night out on the town. The added flexibility is appealing to parents, so you can charge a premium price for the service.
  • It could generate more business for your daycare center. Drop-in childcare can act as a “test run” for full-time childcare. If parents and kids enjoy your facility, they are more likely to come back. They are also more likely to sign up for a full or part-time care plan. You’ll get referrals from your drop-in care services, too, which can bring more families to your door.

What should you be aware of before you start offering drop-in daycare?

  • You may need to offer extended hours. Some drop-in programs stay open late into the evening to capture date night business. This can be a great way to boost your business, but be aware of the operating costs. You’ll need staff who can work odd hours (and you may need to pay them more for it). Make sure you are getting a return on your operational investment.
  • You won’t have the same kind of relationship with the parents or kids. When you are seeing the same families each day, you build a strong relationship with them as their childcare provider. When you are only seeing the families once a week, once a month, or even a few times a year, then your relationship will be much different.

Five Tips for a Successful Drop-In Daycare Service

1. Make Sure You Meet or Exceed State Requirements

The requirements for drop-in childcare aren’t the same as those for a traditional daycare program. You’ll want to check with your state to see what the requirements are and make sure you meet them. Requirements will vary depending on the kind of drop-in service you provide. This will include things like whether you serve meals or are willing to change diapers. Make it your goal to not only meet those standards but exceed them. Parents will naturally have more concerns about using a drop-in facility for the first time. Seeing the extra care you’ve taken to prepare the space will put their minds at ease. It’s also more likely to make them a repeat customer.

2. Start a Membership Program

Before parents use your service for the first time, ask them to enroll in your membership program. This allows you to get all their information before the first drop-off and ensure it’s all correct. You can also perform a parent orientation at this time. This allows you to get to know your parents a bit better and helps them understand the process and procedure of bringing their child to your daycare. It’s a good security practice to know your parents before they drop-in the first time, too.

3. Charge a Premium for Drop-In Care

Make sure you are charging a higher hourly rate for drop-in care versus your regular daycare. Remember, you are offering a premium service, so parents are going to be willing to pay more for it. You’ll probably be paying your daycare staff a premium for evening hours, too, so be sure to factor that into your costs. Consider charging a small monthly membership fee for parents to access your drop-in services. This gives you a consistent revenue stream apart from the drop-in rates. Offer bonuses with their monthly fees, such as a welcome package or free t-shirts for the kids.

4. Set Time and Usage Limits on Drop-In Care

Drop-in childcare isn’t a substitute for a full-time nanny. Your hourly rates should prevent parents from taking advantage of your service, but make sure you set strict rules on how long they can leave their child and when they need to pick them up. Some states limit the amount of time a child can spend in drop-in care, too, so be aware of what the rules are in your state. Make sure parents are aware of the rules and strictly enforce them. Adding a fee for late pick-up or staying over the time limit should help prevent any issues. Use a check-in and check-out process to track time, too.

5. Make Sure You Can Reach Parents When Necessary

Make sure you have a quick way to get ahold of parents when the need arises. Calling their cell phone is an obvious solution. Some facilities use vibrating pagers (like you’d use when waiting for a table at a restaurant) to get the parents’ attention. Verify all contact information before parents leave so you know it’s correct. Make sure you know where the parents are going in case you need to contact them there (such as if their cell phone isn’t working). All the parents’ contact information along with details on the child needs to be somewhere your entire team can access. Prime Child Care Software is an ideal solution for drop-in childcare centers. It allows you to keep accurate records for each family. It also manages the check-in process and attendance tracking so you know you are in-line with state regulations. You can even take payments through the software, making it easy to grab fees for those last-minute drop-offs before parents walk out the door. Bring the benefits of drop-in childcare to your daycare center and streamline the process with Prime Child Care Software. Schedule a live demo for your team today.

9 Festive Classroom Ideas for December

Interactive classroom activities and fun lesson plans are entertaining for kids and provide numerous benefits for their education and physical, social, and behavioral development. When you make playtime educational, children learn essential lessons while still finding their class time enjoyable.

Interactive learning provides children with the space they need to bond, socialize, and grow. It can also foster interest in education because it engages and piques their interest and curiosity. Hence, it is best to infuse some fun activities into your classroom this December. Below are nine fun ideas to try.

1. Fritters Day, Special Education Day (December 2nd)

Supplies Needed: Fritters and thank you notes.

Suggested Activities: Provide the kids with fritters to sample. However, it may be too intensive to make them in your classroom. Please take a moment to recognize special educators and the work they do.

  • Teach kids about the need for special education.
  • Invite any special educators to talk with the children about what they do and why it is essential.
  • Celebrate special educators by asking the kids to write thank you notes or make a lovely treat to support what they do. Smaller children can use stickers and stamps as an adaptation.

2. Brownie Day and Pretend to be a Traveler Day (December 8th)

Supplies Needed: Brownies and historical props

Suggested Activities: Provide the kids with brownies for a delicious treat today. You can decide to either use store-bought brownies or make them. For time traveling, think about the items you already have access to and use them.

  • Invite the kids to travel through time. Share the items you have and talk about time traveling, why it’s exciting, and visit different places and talk to the children about what life must be like in that time. Think about clothing, technology, communication, foods, and shelter. Use short clips or photos and bring your brownies on your trip.

3. Human Rights Day and Nobel Peace Prize Day (December 10th)

Supplies Needed: Books and information about human rights and the Nobel Peace Prize.

Suggested Activities: Discuss human rights and the issues surrounding what is happening today. Even though you work with young children who may not fully appreciate human rights, they should be aware of what is happening around them. Read the United Nations (UN) bill of rights and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. As you read some of the rights, a great discussion could emerge, encouraging kids’ contributions.

  • Teach the kids about the Nobel Peace Prize and its essence and significance today. Additionally, discuss some of the notable winners and their accomplishments, and encourage your kids to emulate these leaders in their daily lives.

4.  Cocoa Day, Violin Day (December 13th)

Supplies Needed: Cocoa, marshmallows, violin music samples, and a violinist.

Suggested Activities: Serve the children some hot cocoa (be mindful of the temperature) and marshmallows. You can either prepare the cocoa from scratch or use a mix.

  • If possible, invite a violinist to play music for the kids and talk about their experiences as a musician.
  • Celebrate Violin Day by playing samples of music. Name the parts of the violin and share any relevant history about the instrument.

5. Monkey Day (December 14th)

Supplies Needed: Books, pictures, figures, and videos of monkeys.

Suggested Activities: Read to the kids about monkeys, their diets, habitats, and other interesting facts. Share the pictures you brought to class and talk about monkey types and the differences with apes. Also, discuss any similarities and differences they have with humans.

  • Celebrate Monkey Day by heading outside to find some monkey bars and play monkey in the middle. Sing some songs about monkeys and play more games as well.

6. Wright Brothers Day (December 17th)

Supplies Needed: Books, photos, figures, and videos of the Wright brothers and early planes.

Suggested Activities: Tell the children about the Wright brothers and use the videos, figures, books, and photos. Explain the significance of what the brothers did to modern-day air travel and discuss airplanes’ history and development. Male paper airplanes with the children and fly them.

7. National Flashlight Day (December 21st)

Supplies Needed: Flashlights.

Suggested Activities: Have the children bring flashlights to class and provide some too. Darken the room or move to a dark place and hold a flashlight party. Play games such as hide and seek where you hide some things in plain sight and have the kids use their flashlights to find them. Have the children try and make different shapes and letters. Use your imagination but follow the children’s lead.

8. Roots Day, Forefathers Day (December 23rd)

Supplies Needed: Books about ancestry, globe, and information about the children.

Suggested Activities: It can be tricky to navigate since some kids may not know their ancestry. Still, share yours, ask the children to share theirs, and discuss how different communities came to America. Be truthful and appropriate since the kids are still innocent. Try and educate without crossing the line or crushing their hopeful spirits.

  • Invite the children to trace their countries of origin and locate them on a globe.

9. Tick Tock Day (December 29th)

Suggested Activities: It’s a day to reflect on the past months and possibly do what you had planned or set out to do this year. Talk about the year’s events, celebrate your classroom achievements, and maybe some across the world. Do something you didn’t get to do or repeat a fun activity.

Discover Other Fun December Ideas in Our Book

Make every school day an exciting learning adventure to help your kids learn and grow, and keep them curious and eager to learn. Children grasp more when you use fun elements in their daily classroom life. Like all the other months of the years, December has many holidays to celebrate different aspects of life, which you can use to infuse fun into your classroom.

Get a copy of our “365 Days of Classroom Fun” now on Amazon to discover more entertaining holiday ideas throughout the year. The book is s straightforward guide with 365 cost-effective, enjoyable lesson ideas to capture kids’ attention and enthusiasm and engage them in creating memorable learning experiences.

If you enjoyed our December festive classroom ideas guide, please share them on your social media handles like Twitter, Pinterest, and Facebook.

365 Days of Classroom Fun


Saving Childcare in America During COVID-19

As the U.S. continues to grapple with the coronavirus pandemic, child care has become one of the hardest hit but least supported industries. Parents have long struggled to find child care services that they can afford and meets their needs. Child care businesses have also struggled to provide quality and developmentally appropriate care with limited resources available to them.

Now, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the country hard. It threatens to decimate the economy and exacerbate the existing child care crisis by raising significant new challenges. For one,  it forced many childcare centers across the country to close their doors for a while as the federal and state governments tried to get a handle on the escalating infections and deaths.

While many centers have since reopened, they presently operate with significantly decreased enrollment figures and increased instability because of the ongoing pandemic. The new reality poses a threat to many child care programs across the U.S., which were already operating on razor-thin margins and a lack of financial reserves required to weather the prevailing crisis.

What Happens to the U.S. if Childcare Fails?

As the COVID-19 pandemic ravages throughout the nation, child care businesses continue to brave the harsh conditions to provide much-needed service to the working class’s children. However, without sufficient federal investment in the industry, half of the country’s child care capacity risks permanent closure moving forward.

If this were to happen, it would result in a catastrophic impact on the U.S. economy. It would jeopardize thousands of child care jobs, leave millions of families without access to child care, and plunge parents into turmoil as they struggle to juggle work and home responsibilities.

Despite the critical role of the child care industry in the American economy, there still exists a widespread lack of understanding of the actual cost of providing these essential services. More so now that child care, as with other industries, faces new guidelines and challenges in its response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

What are Stakeholders Doing to Support Child Care?

In March 2020, Congress passed the much-needed Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act that provided $3.5 billion to states to support child care access through the Child Care and Development Block Grant. However, the funding was woefully insufficient to support child care programs across the country, especially with the increased COVID-19 prevention measures.

After recognizing this shortfall, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Child Care Is Essential Act on a bipartisan vote in July 2020. The Act would provide an additional $50 billion investment injection in the childcare industry to stabilize it. Unfortunately, as late as September 2020, the Senate had failed to act on the bill or appropriate funds for child care.

Many states are tapping into the CARES Act funding to help providers maintain operations throughout the pandemic, offset their increased costs, and support modified subsidy policies to enable them to provide enrollment-based payments rather than attendance-based.

Furthermore, child care providers have access to the Paycheck Protection Program.

What Operational Childcare Centers are doing to Stay Afloat

A Yale University study on more than 57,000 childcare workers who were operational in May and June 2020 provided evidence that risk mitigation efforts are effective in these environments. The national survey found that child care providers who continued to work during the pandemic’s early months did not have a higher risk of contracting the coronavirus compared to those who closed shop – provided that they followed safety protocols strictly.

Over 90% of the survey respondents reported adhering to the following safety measures:

  • Practicing good hand hygiene among all staff members and children
  • Frequently disinfecting indoor fixtures and surfaces
  • Keeping small group sizes (an average of eight kids in centers and six in home-based programs)
  • Symptoms screening
  • Social distancing

Child care centers that remained open through the pandemic without increased infection rates made herculean efforts to ensure the children’s safety. They tirelessly cleaned and disinfected all surfaces and fixtures at least three times a day without fail.

The study’s findings align with a CDC report released in August that suggested child care centers could reopen if they followed strict protocols and community spread was low.

Child care centers owners who remained in business had to read up on the required safety measures and advisories and tracked mandates from the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) and state agencies.

These child care centers knew that successful operation with minimal infection risks required a teamwork approach from the staff, parents, and the kids. Therefore, providers also approached parents to ensure that they knew their responsibilities regarding the set health guidelines and what to do if their kids showed any symptoms.

CDC Child Care Safety Protocols

The safety measures below are from the CDC’s General Preparedness and Planning Protocol:

  • Wash hands using soap and water or use alcohol-based hand sanitizers
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched fixtures and surfaces
  • Cover sneezes and coughs
  • Use face masks
  • Always supervise young children
  • Require sick kids and staff to stay at home
  • Have a plan of action is someone shows symptoms or falls sick, such as isolation and disinfection protocols
  • Implement social distancing strategies
  • Monitor and plan for staff absenteeism
  • Assess group events and gatherings
  • Modify pick up and drop off procedures
  • Maintain adequate staff to children ratio

The CDC also advises child care centers to work closely with local health officials, child care licensing and accreditation bodies, health consultants, school districts, and other community partners to determine appropriate action.

The Way Forward

Child care is a necessity, especially for working families, a fact that was true long before the COVID-19 pandemic but has now become more evident as families struggle to balance work demands and family responsibilities. Without adequate child care, parents cannot work efficiently, which hurts the economy further.

Investing in child care centers moving forward could help with some of the existing disparities and challenges that the industry faces, such as funding, space, and quality. Funding could stabilize the industry in the short term and ensure a comprehensive early childhood system in the long run.

Hopefully, all is not lost, and the COVID-19 pandemic was the wake-up call needed to effect lasting changes to child care.

Technology, such as personalized child care apps, are a great way to reach parents and ensure they remain updated on policies and health notices. To learn more about customizable software and their benefits during emergencies and routine days, contact Prime Childcare Software experts today.

Complete Checklist For Infant Care Professionals

Research shows that despite the facilities or number of staff that a daycare center has, the true indicator of the quality of a childcare program directly relates to the knowledge, attitudes, and skills of the adult professionals who work there. Regardless of experience and qualifications, ongoing professional and personal development is critical.

Part of every good professional development plan is being a lifelong learner and an excellent planner. Below is a complete checklist of the different aspects of infant care, needs, and changes that daycare staff should consider:

1. Baby Needs to Take Note of When Caring for Infants

With infants, some things happen automatically, while some need coaxing. Care providers cannot dictate a baby’s action. They are there to serve, regardless of the need or how hard it appears. Infants essentially need the following five things from caregivers:

  • Food:Feed babies below six months old breast milk or infant formula only, or the diet dictated by their parents. It usually includes soft foods like mashed bananas. Also, do not give the following foods to infants below one-year-old: honey, cow’s milk, fruit juice, candy, unpasteurized foods, chocolate allergenic foods (like eggs, peanuts, tomatoes, strawberries).
  • Burping: Be keen on the babies that require burping.
  • Changing:Regularly check for soiled or soaking wet diapers.
  • Sleep:Stick to the babies’ nap schedules.
  • Attention:Infants love attention, and their brains soak up everything within their environment.

Look out for the following baby changes. While the sounds discussed below are generalized, most babies will make similar sounds based on their needs, according to the Dustan Baby Language theory. They are as follows:

  • “Neh,” with a sucking motion, means the baby is hungry.
  • “Owh,” similarly to the start of a yawn, means baby is tired.
  • “Heh” shows discomfort or distress, such as from a full diaper.
  • “Eairh,” with pushing or grunting sound, reveals a baby’s gut hurts. It could be because they have an upset stomach or have to pass gas or poop. If it persists, gently push up the infant’s knees up to the belly to help get the poop out.
  • “Eh,” (short sound) means baby is probably trying to release a burp.

Run the following checks if a baby is crying and you have no clue why:

  • Check the diaper
  • Play with the infant
  • Try feeding (give it a few tries)
  • Burp the baby
  • Do some bicycle pumps
  • Hug, hold and walk around with the infant
  • Try and put him or her to sleep

If nothing happens, check the temperature using a thermometer.

2. General Care Checklist

  • The daycare room is bright and cheerful.
  • Ensure that you maintain fresh air and healthy heating or cooling conditions.
  • Keep diapering, feeding, play, and sleeping areas separate.
  • Label the cribs, clothing, bedding, feeding utensils, or diapers with the respective child’s name.
  • Arrange the space to enable infants to enjoy quiet play safely with enough space to roll-over and objects or toys they can explore.
  • Keep bright, interesting objects at the infants’ eye level.
  • Provide soft, clean surfaces for sitting and lying.
  • Take infants outside for fresh air.
  • Keep all floors and surfaces clean.
  • Have enough clean water for washing.

3. Safe Sleep Practices Checklist

  • Infants have a safe sleeping area free from falls or other hazards.
  • Put all infants to sleep on their backs.
  • Sleep spaces consist of a firm sleep surface like a crib or mattress.
  • Sleep spaces are free of soft objects, loose bedding, crib bumpers, and toys.
  • Regularly check on sleeping infants to reduce the risk of SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrome).
  • Infants sleep in their designated sleep spaces.
  • During rest or sleep time, care providers can hear and see the infants at all times.
  • Post safe sleep infant practices within the sleeping area to remind volunteers, substitutes, and even staff.
  • Post sign by the infant sleep area to indicate whether or not they can roll-over.
  • Take measures to reduce smoke exposure.

4. Health and Safety Checklist

  • Ensure that all outdoor and indoor environments are clear of broken equipment, peeling or chipped paint, and tripping hazards.
  • Lock away all cleaning supplies and other chemicals out of the reach of the infants.
  • Keep toys safe, clean, and within reach of the babies.
  • Take all precautionary measures to prevent second- or third-hand smoke exposure.

5. Nutrition: Eating and Drinking Checklist

  • Hold infants while feeding them infant formula or breast milk from a bottle.
  • Never put infants to sleep with sippy cups or bottles, and never prop bottles into their mouths.
  • If babies can eat solid foods, give them healthy options like fruits, milk products (yogurt or cheese), vegetables, and wholegrain products (cereal or bread) for snacks and meals.
  • Follow all meal and snack preparation, service, and storage as per the U.S. Department of Agriculture Child and Adult Care Food Program.
  • Don’t serve babies juice.
  • Offer babies older than six months tap water throughout the day – ideally with fluoride.
  • Post individual infant’s food allergies somewhere where the care providers can see, in the classroom, care area, or wherever you serve food.
  • Don’t serve foods that are choking hazards such as meat sticks, raw carrot, hard candy, whole grapes, chips, popcorn, marshmallows, nuts, seeds, or hard pretzels.
  • Infants are always seated while eating.
  • Wash all vegetables and fruits thoroughly using clean water before use.

6. Oral Hygiene Checklist

  • Ensure that each infant has their soft-bristled, baby-sized toothbrush. Label all toothbrushes with the respective baby name.
  • Replace all toothbrushes every three to four months, after an illness, or when the bristles become frayed or worn out.
  • Wash your hands with water and soap before and after brushing each infant’s teeth. The child care program staff should wear new gloves for brushing each baby’s teeth.
  • Use a small smear (rice-sized) of fluoride toothpaste when brushing baby teeth.
  • Have a plan and an equipped first aid kit in hand to handle any oral emergencies such as:
    • Toothaches,
    • Broken tooth
    • Broken jaw
    • Cut or bitten tongue, cheek, or lip
    • Continued bleeding after a baby tooth falls out
  • Have an actionable plan in place for transporting an infant with an oral emergency to their dentist or the nearest source of emergency health care.
  • Have the contact information for each infant’s dentist plus a signed release form from the parent. It allows the dentist to share pertinent information with a care provider.

The Bottom Line

Observation, reflection, and documentation are essential skills for high-quality infant care. Developing these skills helps to forge caring providers. It also allows them to know the infants under their care better, share daily observations with their families, appreciate the unique learning style of different infants, encourage competence and success, practice patience, collect information, make quick, informed decisions, and find ways to improve daily routines.

The software can help daycare staff better record information and daily changes. Technology provides several advantages: easy navigation, a quick update of records when other staff take over a shift and set reminders if records remain stagnant for long.

Prime Child Care Software provides comprehensive care and support with easy-to-use cloud-based tools that make prime working hours more enjoyable and productive. It also provides easy access on any device, intuitive point-and-click tools for entire teams, and features a responsive mobile childcare app.

Contact us today to learn more about our childcare software.

9 Classroom Ideas to be Thankful for This November

Interactive activities and entertaining lesson plans are fun for kids and can provide numerous benefits for their learning, physical well-being, and social and behavioral skills. By making playtime educational, kids learn essential lessons while still enjoying their time in class.

Interactive learning further provides space for children to bond. It also encourages and fosters a lifelong interest in education because it is engaging and enjoyable. Thus, always try and infuse fun activities in your classroom. Below are nine exciting classroom ideas for November.

1. Author’s Day, Family Literacy Day (November 1st)

Supplies Needed: A collection of books.

Suggested Activities: Gather the kids and talk about authors plus what they do. Discuss some of your children’s favorite books and ask them to share a few passages with the class.

  • Teach your kids about family literacy and the fact that some families may need help reading and writing.
  • Invite families over and share literature on literacy. You can also ask your kids to bring with them any resources to share with less privileged families.
  • Celebrate family literacy day and send home information on the essence of early literacy.

2. Nachos Day, Saxophone Day (November 6th)

Supplies Needed: Nachos with all the fixings, pictures of the saxophone, samples of music that feature the saxophone, a real saxophone, or musician if possible.

Suggested Activities: Set up a do-it-yourself nacho bar then have the kids make their own. Also, encourage them to try new recipes that are different from what they have tried before.

  • Teach the kids about saxophones and show them pictures of the musical instrument
  • Invite a musician to come to class, play the instrument for the kids, and talk about their experience playing it.
  • Celebrate nachos and saxophone day by eating what the children made and playing samples of the instrument.

3. Stress Awareness Day (November 7th)

Supplies Needed: Stress balls, fidget activities.

Suggested Activities: Talk with the kids about stress and explain what it is and what it feels like to experience. Ask them to talk more about it with their parents when they go home.

  • Teach them about healthy and appropriate ways to deal with any feelings of stress they may have and how to help their friends if they notice any signs of stress.
  • Invite the children to use the stress balls and any other items you brought that help deal with stress.

4. Parents as Teachers Day (November 8th)

Supplies Needed: Personal letters from you.

Suggested Activities: It’s always good to acknowledge the child’s first teacher – parents or guardians. Write a personal letter to each kid’s family and tell them something lovely you have noticed about their kid. In your message, capture how much children learn from their parents and also copy them. It’s a brilliant way to build a relationship between you and the parents and foster the bond between parents and their children.

5. Veteran’s Day (November 11th)

Suggested Activities: Contact a local veteran’s agency and determine the needs of veterans in your area. Once you know what they need,

  • Teach your kids about veterans, what they go through after returning home, and the value of their service.
  • Invite them to prepare cards, care packages, or other donations they may have. Furthermore, encourage them to write personal notes to the veterans and take the gifts they made to the local agency. You can use stickers and stamps as an adaptation.

6. Model Train Day (November 12th)

Supplies Needed: Model trains.

Suggested Activities: November is the National Model Railroad Month. Read stories about different trains and their history and later teach your kids what you learned. You could also prepare picture cards of various trains ahead of time and ask the children to identify them. Additionally, if your class has infants and toddlers, use the opportunity to name parts of the train, objects, tracks, conductor, etc. You can also invite local train enthusiasts to your class to share their trains and knowledge.

7. World Toilet Day (November 19th)

Supplied Needed: Books about toilets and photos of different toilets around the world.

Suggested Activities: Talk with the kids about toilets. Explain how they work and use the opportunity to talk about proper usage and the different toilets used worldwide. It may not be the most exciting topic to cover with the children, but since they are genuinely interested in new things, try and meet their interests.

8. Cake Day (November 26th)

Supplies Needed: Cake ingredients.

Suggested Activities: Everybody loves cake. Discuss different cakes with the children, ask them what they like, and talk about making them. Discuss various recipes and have the kids decide on a fun one to make. Gather all the ingredients you will require and get started. If it is impossible to make a cake, try and provide one that the kids may not have tried before.

9. Flossing Day (November 29th)

Supplies Needed: Floss and teeth model if available.

Suggested Activities: Discuss with the kids the essence of oral hygiene.

  • Teach them how to floss by demonstrating on the teeth model you brought.
  • Invite them to try and floss to teach them proper technique. Remember to maintain hygienic practices for all flossing activities.

Discover Other Fun November Ideas in the Book

Do you have go-to ideas for providing a fun learning experience in your classroom every day? Kids grasp more when you include fun elements in their daily school life. As you can see from above, November is full of holidays that you can use to create joyful, exciting learning opportunities for your classroom.

To discover more holidays and how to create a great learning experience for every school day, get a copy of the “365 Days of Classroom Fun” from Amazon today. The book is a user-friendly guide from industry experts with an impressive 365 cost-effective, fun lesson ideas to engage kids and capture that enthusiasm to create an enjoyable and fruitful learning experience.

365 Days of Classroom Fun

If you enjoyed “9 Classroom ideas to be thankful for this November,” please share them on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest. Until next time, play on!

6 Ways to Estimate Your Cash Flow During Fall and Winter

Cash flow refers to the movement of money in and out of your daycare business during a specific period. Managing your cash flow is critical for a daycare business’s success, especially after the long holidays and plans for expansion or market share growth. Cash flow is king for all businesses. It keeps your daycare business healthy and enables it to accelerate during busy months and withstand lean ones. There are different ways to estimate and measure cash flow. Each has its merits and weaknesses, depending on your operational goals.

Projecting Cash Flow

It helps to project your daycare’s cash flow accurately before you can properly manage it. Cash flow projection or estimation means knowing how much money will come into your business and how much you have to pay in expenses. Of course, it’s nearly impossible to estimate your cash flow with certainty. Unexpected expenses almost always arise, kids will come and go, government grants may change, and parents will pay late. However, if you are organized and diligent, you can get a good idea of how much cash you need for a specific period and know how much money is in your accounts. Below are six ways of estimating your day care’s cash flow.

1. Make a Cash Flow Budget

Developing a cash flow budget requires you to estimate your daycare’s income and the expenses it will payout. Base your estimates on past performance to make them verifiable and help determine your financial projections. Furthermore, base any new program assumptions on carefully-conducted market research of other similar daycare businesses. Assumptions to consider include:
  • The vacancy rate
  • The number of kids served
  • The fees you charge
  • The number of hours and days the business is open
Developing your budget requires considerable time and planning. Below are some of the activities involved:
  • Establish the budget period – annually, monthly, quarterly, or biannually.
  • Estimate the number of kids you will serve based on your licensing standards, space available, the number of kids already enrolled, and the number of staff you have (if any).
  • Estimate anticipated revenue. It could come from parent fees, public subsidies, food programs, sponsors, etc.
  • Estimate anticipated expenditures. Make sure to include:
    • Fixed expenses like rent, insurance, utilities, mortgage, and telephone
    • Salary expenses if applicable
    • Program or funder requirements, for example, associated costs of a grant program like obtaining accreditation
    • Everything else such as food, equipment, supplies, advertising, staff development, and liability insurance
To get your ending cash, you must add your starting cash (the amount you have in your daycare accounts) and anticipated revenue (money coming into the business). If the number is positive, then your daycare has a positive cash flow for fall and winter.

2. Free Cash Flow

Free cash flow is a standard method of estimating and measuring cash flow. The FCF metric tracks the cash you have leftover after making capital expenditures like mortgage and equipment payments. To determine your FCF number, you must examine both your capital expenditure and operating cash flow. Free cash flow is essential because it’s the money available to build your daycare business, expand your product offerings, and carry out other activities that increase your business’s long-term value.

3. Cash Flow from Financing Activities

Cash flow from financing activities shows your business’ financial condition by showing how you raise your capital and repay investors. These activities include taking on new loans or paying investors, if any. Therefore, if you consistently take on new debt for your temporary cash shortages, it is an indicator of financial problems down the road. Cash from financing activities tells you what percentage of your money is from financing instead of operations revenue. It is also an indicator of your expansion readiness.

4. Cash Flow from Operations

It is one of the best indicators of your daycare business’s overall financial condition. The term operation refers to your core business activities. In your case, it’s providing care and supervision to the children under your care. Cash flow from operations shows how much money goes out and comes in from your core business functions. It’s the cash flow available before you finance anything. If it’s thin, you must consider outside financing to pay your bills.

5. Levered Cash Flow

Levered cash flow (LCF) refers to the free cash flow you have remaining after taking care of your debt obligations. It tells you how much money you have available for distribution and investment. To determine your LCF, you must first figure out your un-levered cash flow and subtract any outstanding remittances, including interest payments. Levered cash flow is a suitable indicator of your business credit record, as well as your ability to repay debts and manage business funds.

6. Use of a Spreadsheet or Software

In most cases, the best way to estimate your cash flow and keep track of it is to use a spreadsheet or software. Today the market contains excellent software to help childcare and daycare businesses manage their budgets and daily operations. One example is Prime Childcare, a cloud-based childcare management software, plus a supporting mobile childcare app. Prime Childcare can help you simplify your finances, automate your back-office processes, optimize your communications, and streamline your compliance reporting. Such software leaves you enough time to take care of the kids and communicate with parents and prospects.

Over to You

While it may take some time and experience, if you properly manage your cash flow and keep good records, you can make accurate cash flow projections and estimates. You can also anticipate when things get tight. One best practice to help your cash flow budgeting is to lower your cash in (anticipated revenue) projections and raise your cash out (expenses) estimates. At Prime Childcare software, we pride ourselves on technical innovation and providing comprehensive, easy-to-use technology supported by humans. We remain dedicated to empowering childcare centers to manage their routine functions so that proprietors can spend time nourishing relationships and doing other core business activities. Contact us today to get started.

8 Falltastic Classroom Ideas for October

October means cooler weather, sweaters, mud puddles, and more time spent indoors. While October means summer is officially over, it doesn’t mean you can’t still have fun. Here are some wonderful falltastic classroom ideas for October that will keep your charges excited about coming to daycare.

Celebrate Chocolate-Covered Pretzel Day

Did you know that October 7th is the official day of the chocolate covered pretzel? It’s not a particularly well-known holiday, but that will change when you incorporate it into your classroom activities. The great thing about celebrating chocolate covered pretzel day is that it’s a fun way to teach children about food safety and provide some basic health information that they’ll remember later in life when they have to make their own decisions about what they should and shouldn’t eat.

The best way to celebrate Chocolate Covered Pretzel Day is by choosing some low-sodium pretzels that your students can dip in chocolate. Depending on the age and ability of your students, you may even want to consider having the students make their own pretzels. While your students cover their pretzels with delicious chocolate, take time to teach them the importance of preparing food safely. Discuss why they should clean the dishes they use as soon as they are finished making the sweet treat. Talking about why they need to moderate the number of chocolate covered pretzels makes a great health lesson.

Before diving into this particular October classroom activity talk to each student’s parents and make sure they don’t have any health concerns that prevent them from enjoying this particular fall activity.

Teddy Bear Day

If you’re looking for a great way to discuss bullying, having students bring their favorite teddy bear to daycare on October 9th is a great place to start. There are several Teddy Bear related activities that you can run throughout the day. Discuss the importance of having a good friend, like their teddy bear who they can talk to about problems. Start teaching your students the early signs of bullying. You can talk about the history of teddy bears, study real-life bears, and even arrange a time when the students create short stories about an adventure they might go on with their teddy bears.

One of the great things about falltastic activities like Bring Your Teddy Bear to School is that having a stuffed animal with them encourages shy children to come out of their shell.

Autumn Leaf Day

Officially, Autumn Leaves Day falls on October 13, but if the weather isn’t ideal for an outdoor activity, you can schedule it for a different day. The purpose of Autumn Leave Day is to get your students outside. There are lots of activities you can do on Autumn Leaves Day. You can have them gather large piles of leaves that they jump into. You can have them collect interesting leaves and teach them how to identify the type of leave. You can discuss why leaves change colors in the fall. With just a few art supplies, your students can decorate leaves.

Celebrating autumn leaves day is a great way to cultivate an interest in nature.

New Friends Day

On October 19th, create a plan that helps your students understand the importance of friendship. Create activities that encourage each of your students to make a new friend. Activities that work well on New Friends Day include simple group projects such as scavenger hunts, discussing what makes a person a good friend, and exploring the concept of pen pals. Some teachers explore ways that they can help their students explore the concept of communication and the importance of social skills.

Reptile Awareness Day

Reptile Awareness Day falls on October 21. If possible, see if a local zoo or reptile rescue group has some friendly reptiles that they can bring in to show the class. If that’s not an option, look for interesting educational opportunities. Teach students how reptiles shed. Where they live. Watch a reptile movie or YouTube videos. Encourage each of your students to pick a favorite reptile and learn as much as they can about it. Celebrating Reptile Awareness Day is a great way to encourage an interest in wildlife and help your students understand that reptiles are important to the ecosystem and shouldn’t be feared.

United Nations Day

It’s never too early to start teaching your students about other cultures, and the best time to do this is on October 24 which is United Nations Day. It’s likely your students are too young to understand the importance of the UN, they aren’t too young to start learning about other cultures. Activities you can do on United Nations Day include finding pen pals who live in different countries, trying out foods that are popular in other parts of the world, coloring pictures, reading books that tell about how children in different cultures live.

Mule Day

On October 26th you should consider celebrating Mule Day with your students. This is a great opportunity to teach a little-discussed topic. If possible, arrange a field trip to a stable that is home to a few mules where your students can learn about basic mule care. If that’s not an option, considering watching a few mule-themed movies or having your students look at pictures of mules. The best thing about mules is that they played an important role in history. Teach your students how they helped early farmers, travelers, and war heroes.

Black Cat Day

October 27th is Black Cat Day. This holiday provides you with an excellent opportunity to explore the superstition behind black cats. Have your students tell stories about black cats. Discuss how to care for a black cat. Consider a field trip to a local animal shelter where your students can play with the resident black cats while also learning the important role animal shelters play in the community.

When you purchase a copy of 365 Days of Classroom Activities you’ll instantly gain access to a wide array of activities that make planning each day a breeze. The great thing about all of these activities is that they are easy to put together, help you turn your students into well-rounded individuals, and eliminate the risk that your students will be bored while they’re at daycare.

365 Days of Classroom Fun

5 Ways to Incorporate Technology into Your Daycare’s Emergency Plan

It’s essential to have an emergency plan in place for any variety of emergencies that could crop up during an average day at your childcare center. Still, it’s not always easy to execute all the necessary details in moments of chaos. When you have a working emergency plan in place, investigating the individual parts of your plan can help you streamline the process so everything will go smoothly in the event of an actual emergency. The use of technology can provide instant communication during moments of crisis and eliminate extra tasks that could take attention away from children when they need it most.

Your daycare emergency plan should outline steps for medical emergencies, shelter-in-place situations, evacuation procedures, and how to reunite children with parents during an emergency. This means your emergency plan contains a variety of important information about each child that workers must be able to access within seconds during any type of emergency. Local emergency contacts must also be readily available, and parents need to be kept in the loop during every step of the process. Having certain technologies in place can ensure you always have the information you need right at your fingertips. Try these customizable tips to streamline your emergency plan with the use of technology.

1. Use an Attendance Tracking Tool 

Accountability for each child’s location is essential during everyday activities and more vital than ever during an emergency. Still, when a normal day erupts into chaos, it can be difficult to remember the moment a child was reunited with a parent or was absent for the day. Check-In and Attendance Tracking that works on any mobile device provides every employee with instant access to the whereabouts of each child.

Prime Childcare Software provides a variety of childcare centers with a Check-in and Attendance tool that gives every worker access to a live headcount display at any time of day. The tool works through a convenient mobile app that works on any device. Incorporating this tool into your emergency plan provides:

  • Check-in/out on virtually any device
  • Real time, accurate attendance reporting
  • The ability to use a device camera to capture student, parent, and staff photos
  • Employee clock-in and alerts

2. Use Technology to Streamline Communication with Parents

There’s no doubt that parents deserve up-to-the-minute information about their children during an emergency. Still, providing that information to each parent during a chaotic time can be difficult. Instead of relying on workers to call each parent individually, send out mass notifications that keep every parent informed with one simple message.

The use of technology is a great tool to keep parents engaged with your daycare on a routine basis. In the event of an emergency, this connection becomes more important than ever. Using technology to connect with parents can provide workers with the ability to: 

  • Send push notifications to all parents at once
  • Send mass or single emails
  • Send group or individual text updates to parents

3. Store Changing Information

Busy parents often need a variety of solutions when changing circumstances interrupts a conventional workday. While technology makes it easier to get in contact with parents almost any time of day, some professions make it impossible for parents to have smartphones during work hours. This is why it’s often necessary for parents to include alternate caregiver information for non-typical situations like inclement weather.

While this information might be easily accessible in a file cabinet or office most of the time, in the event you’re forced to evacuate, you may not  have the information you need. A customizable childcare app will allow you to store special notes and alternate schedule plans for each child upon enrollment. During an emergency, this information becomes instantly accessible from whatever device you have access to during an unexpected event.

4. Make Medical Records Easily Accessible from Any Device

Medications, dietary restrictions, allergy information, and immunizations are all part of keeping every child at your daycare healthy. It’s easy to access this information during a normal day but can be difficult if your files are in the daycare facility and you’ve already been forced to evacuate. 

A customizable child care center app can allow any worker to access each child’s necessary medical information and restrictions from any device even when no one is present at the daycare facility. With each student’s information located in one convenient space, you can take care of medical needs, provide meals during difficult circumstances, and avoid compounding emergencies during an unexpected situation.

5. Provide Instant Access to Emergency Contacts

Dialing an emergency number seems simple when you have a list clearly posted on the wall. However, when you have an emergency situation with children crying, only seconds to spare, and can’t remember exactly where your glasses are; dialing that number is significantly more difficult. Reaching the local emergency contact you need, wherever you are, with one touch to the screen of any mobile device can save you precious seconds during an emergency.

When you use a customizable childcare center app, it’s easy to include local emergency numbers that can be accessed by all workers. Instead of relying on a paper copy in one spot, every employee can have the necessary emergency information right at their fingertips during any moment of the day. Emergencies are unexpected, and they happen everywhere. Having the information you need right away is essential when you have a variety of vitally important responsibilities. Preparing for a routine day at any daycare center requires a wealth of planning and the ability to adapt to any situation that arises. When an emergency occurs, you must be able to react with confidence while maintaining the safety of the children in your care and your employees. To learn more about the benefits of customizable software during both routine days and emergencies, contact the experts at Prime Childcare Software, today. Our software solutions allow you to spend your time building relationships with children and parents instead of slogging through administrative tasks and paperwork.

12 Simple Ways to Incorporate More Movement into Your Daycare Lessons

One of the keys to successful children’s development is the movement. Research shows that encouraging movement can give children an opportunity to develop self-awareness, master non-verbal ways of communication, and learn more about their bodies.

Regular movement helps kids understand their range of motion, coordination, balance, and muscle strength. While short, daycare lessons can be taxing for small children. Without movement, they become restless, lose the ability to concentrate, and succumb to agitation.

Incorporating more movement into your daycare lessons can help kids develop organically while getting the most out of your interaction.

 1. Start with a Song

Before the lesson starts, give children an opportunity to “blow off the steam.” Research some fun songs and simple movements that go along with them.

You can invent your own movements, turning the starting song into something special for all the kids in the group. They may involve clapping and stomping (e.g. “when you’re happy and you know it”, “head, shoulders, knees, and toes”) or a round dance type of activity.

2. Explore Waldorf’s Movement Games

Waldorf’s activity learning can be an excellent choice for daycare education. Certain activities can help children memorize information. For example, reciting verses while passing beanbags or incorporating clapping to accompany memorization of facts.

Such activities keep children moving while focusing their attention on the information you are trying to pass on. After such lessons, kids are less likely to feel tired or restless.

3. Work on Seating Options

Standard chairs may be convenient for the daycare center arrangement but somewhat restrictive to the children. Explore such seating options as:

  • Rocking chairs
  • Beanbags
  • Therapy balls
  • Wiggle seats or wedges

Alternative seating allows children to use up their bursting energy while digesting new information in the process.

If you don’t have sufficient funds to change the seating entirely, remember that some children can learn while standing or sitting on the floor. Giving them a choice goes a long way toward improving the learning environment.

4. Research Yoga

Yoga for children comes with numerous benefits, including heightened concentration and integrating both sides of the human brain into the learning process.

Yoga for kids can:

Yoga poses don’t take up too much time, so you can distribute them through each lesson. Some kids may even decide to stay in some of these poses to continue learning.

5. Offer Opportunities for Jumping

Jumping is an excellent way to use up the energy without moving around the room. To give children an opportunity to jump during daycare lessons, provide them:

  • Mats
  • Pillows
  • Lines on the floor

Take a one-minute break during each lesson to do some jumping jacks with the kids. They’ll love the distraction while getting their wiggles out.

6. Play Sharing Games

One of the most popular games that teach children how to share is drawing a rainbow with markers. Each child gets one marker and has to draw a rainbow. Quickly, kids realize that they need other markers to complete the task. This game is an excellent opportunity for movement.

By placing children away from each other, you are making them move around to find the necessary markers for exchange. Many sharing games can work in the same manner.

7. Practice Movement Breaks

If your lesson plan keeps children sitting in one place for a long time, implement breaks. Depending on the group’s age, these breaks can be as frequent as 5 or 10 minutes.

When the time comes, everyone stops their activities and starts dancing, singing, passing the ball around, or whatever other actions you come up with. Breaks are a great way to add movement to your lessons while giving kids’ brains time to regroup.

8. Use Pushing and Pulling Toys

Pushing (doll carriages, lawnmowers) and pulling toys (wagons, cars) increase spatial awareness and coordination. They also give children an opportunity to move around during a lesson.

You can incorporate these toys into your sharing lesson plans or use them during movement breaks. They encourage quick movements that use up a lot of energy and help children get back into the learning process faster.

9. Implement Posture Exercises

Children tend to slouch when sitting. Posture exercises don’t just add movement to your lessons but prepare kids for long days at the desk in school.

By implementing these exercises into the kids’ daycare lesson routine, you can prevent back and shoulder problems in the future.

10. Take Your Lessons Outdoors

When you conduct lessons outdoors, you are giving children an opportunity to enjoy a larger space. This promotes movement and increases the range of possible activities. During movement breaks, kids can master the space around them while enjoying the fresh air as a bonus.

You can combine outdoor activities with lessons about nature. This encourages children to study the world around them while moving from one object to another.

11. Play “Simon Says”

“Simon says” is an excellent game for daycare children of almost all ages. It encourages movement while increasing body awareness and honing auditory skills.

The best part about this game is that it can turn into a constructive exercise, helping children learn how to do new things.

12. Set Up an Active Indoor Space

Toddlers and older children need space to climb and jump indoors. Consider investing in climbing equipment and other active game accessories to help children move around even when the weather prevents them from going outdoors.

One of the best ways to involve children in everyday activities is by personal example. Model enjoyment of movement by joining kids in indoor and outdoor games.

Keep Children Moving and Parents Happy

The importance of regular movement for children is hard to overlook. By giving them every opportunity to move, you are contributing to their physical and mental development. With Prime Childcare software, you can tweak your lesson plans to include more activities and share the results with parents. For more information about our comprehensive childcare management software, please don’t hesitate to contact us at any convenient time.

3 Ways to Ensure Parents and Guardians Are Reading Health Notices and Policy Changes

Now more than ever parents need to stay up-to-date with your daycare center. Getting them the information is easy. Getting them to actually read it, though, tends to be much more difficult. Busy parents might grab the latest flyer from your entrance but forget about it by the time they get home. Staff can remind them, but with all the demands on their attention they can’t track which parent is reading the info and who still hasn’t.

So how do you make sure important information is getting to parents? The key is to increase parent engagement and know the best ways to reach them. Here are three strategies you can put into action right away to help ensure parents are reading important information sent by your daycare center.

How to Reach Parents So They Actually Read Your Notices

Ditch the Paper and Put Technology to Work

Paper is inconvenient. It’s also expensive. Printing notices costs your center paper and toner, and over time that can take a big bite out of your operating budget. It’s also not great for the eco-footprint of your childcare center. After all the effort of printing them, it’s very likely that more of your paper notices are getting lost than getting read. So eliminate the problem by replacing your paper newsletters with digital ones.

Digital newsletters, notices, and announcements are a much better way to communicate with parents and guardians. When you move to a digital platform, you make it easy to access, to share, and to update the newsletter at any time. You’ll also see a much higher engagement rate when it comes to parents actually getting the information.

The Best Part of Going Digital

  • Digital information is easy to update on a minute-by-minute basis if necessary. When illnesses break out, the local government calls for quarantine restrictions, or a natural disaster is happening, you need to keep parents informed. A digital format is a perfect way to do this so everyone has the latest information instantly. 

Meet Parents Where They Are At (Hint: It’s Their Smartphones)

Parents are busy. Really busy. So you need to give them information in the place they are most likely to see it. That’s on their smartphones. 81% of American adults now own a smartphone, a rise of nearly 50% in a decade. They’re spending more time on them, too, with the average adult spending about three and a half hours a day on their phones. If you are going to get information in front of a parent’s eyes, their smartphone is the place to do it. 

Thankfully, that’s easier than ever. You can post your health notices and policy changes on social media, send it in an email, or even do a text blast. Consider using push notifications through an app to the parent’s phone, too. Push notifications can give parents the necessary information or direct them where to go for more info right on the lock screen of their phone. So they don’t even have to open their phone to get vital information.

Branded apps for your daycare center can do a lot more, too, but simplifying parent communication is one of the big ones. 

The Best Part of Using Smartphones

  • Parents are looking at them anyway, so there is a much higher chance they’ll actually read your message. Encourage parents to follow you on your social media accounts and look at branded apps as a way to increase parent engagement. It’s often cheaper, easier, and more effective than other means of communication.  

Make It Easy to Access Anywhere

Parents are on the go, so they need to be able to access your communication anywhere. That’s easily done thanks to the internet. But you also need to make sure parents can easily find and read older notices they may have missed. Keeping a centralized library of notices online can be really helpful for both you and your parent community. This increases the chances that parents will read the information because they’ll know where to find it and can reference back to it if needed. When it’s convenient and easy, it’s more likely parents will have a look.

The Best Part of Using a Central Place for Information

  • A central place for information means there is no confusion about where to find it and no one misses out. For instance, if you are relying on social media, you might forget to make a post for your Instagram followers. They miss out on vital information while your Facebook fans are in the know. But if you require each parent to have your daycare’s app on their phone, the info is always there and accessible to everyone.

Other Top Tips to Get Your Daycare’s Notices Read

  • Get straight to the necessary information. Parents don’t have the time (or energy) to read lengthy notices. Give them the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the information in the first paragraph. That way they get the meat of the information right at the beginning, then you can go into detail for those who want to know more.
  • Don’t spam parents with info. While it’s good to maintain consistent communication, you don’t want to overwhelm them. They are busy enough (and interrupted enough) as it is. If they feel like your updates aren’t important, they will start to dismiss them without reading them. That results in giving you the opposite effect of your final goal of increasing engagement.
  • Follow up. While using tech to communicate with your parents is great, nothing beats an in-person follow-up. Chat with them at pick up and drop off times to make sure they’ve seen the important news. If they haven’t, you can gently direct them to the appropriate channels to get all the latest news.

Fostering parent engagement is key in many areas, including getting them to read the information you need them to have. A personalized daycare center app is a great way to reach parents and encourage them to stay up-to-date on policies and health notices. These apps can also make transfers more secure, your billing easier to manage, and records quicker to update. Learn more by scheduling a free consultation call with the Prime Child Care Software team today.

How to Stay on Top of Parent Communication During the Back-to-School Season

The back-to-school season of 2020 will provide more distractions than ever for parents with school-age kids. Whether your daycare facility serves school age children, or many children with school-age siblings, you’ll face more challenges communicating with parents. A new school year always brings about schedule changes, extra tasks, and a deluge of communication from schools and teachers. This year adds to the confusion with schools that have been closed for extended periods of time, vastly different school schedules, and additional precautions brought about by COVID-19.

As daycare centers struggle to safely reopen or continue their efforts to serve essential workers, communication with parents is more important than ever. Your facility is likely following a variety of state regulations to maintain the health of both children and employees. Back and forth communication with parents is an important part of avoiding the spread of germs. Still, when parents are distracted, and little face-to-face communication is permitted, it can be difficult to provide vital information in a way that gets noticed.

Offering a variety of communication techniques can help. Parents are often working, running errands, and struggling to balance the schedules of children through a combination of school and daycare. Here are a few methods you can use to stay on top of parent communication during the busy back-to-school season.


While paper handouts are often the standard in communication to provide important information to parents, they can also carry germs. Email has long been an accepted form of communication between teachers and parents, so it’s really not a stretch to think it would be convenient for daycare facilities as well. Emails can also include attached documents and permission slips for parents to sign electronically.

Text Messages

Since smartphones became a staple of communication, most parents are very comfortable communicating through text. It’s quick and easy, and perhaps most importantly, immediate. Sending out text messages in conjunction with emails or only for emergencies is a great way to get immediate attention. Additionally, parents can often dash off a quick response right away.

Online Portals

Many businesses provide customers with an online portal to access important information, pay bills, and even receive documents. As many daycare centers limit the amount of visitors allowed inside, certain information gets harder to pass along. A parent portal will allow parents to make no-contact payments, access and sign important documents and permission slips, and stay up to date with relevant information.

Mobile App

A mobile app gives parents a convenient way to access all childcare related information and communications in one convenient place. Busy parents are often en-route to one activity or another and depend heavily on smartphones. Since 81% of American adults own a smartphone, you can expect the majority of parents to be familiar with downloading and using an app. A mobile app can provide you with the ability to offer parents a variety of communication option whenever and wherever they are. Convenience is the number one way to make communication easier for busy parents with a variety of responsibilities.


While most parents appreciate the convenience of technology, there are some parents and grandparents that don’t have the option. Parents who don’t have internet access or reliable services need alternative options to stay in touch. When you’re implementing new contact options, provide a sign up sheet for parents who won’t be able to use the new technology. For these parents, set up a convenient phone number and call time for the exchange of information. Additionally, you could offer to set up a weekly face-to-face meeting outdoors to provide important information updates and documents.

A Variety of Communication Methods in One Convenient Place

A variety of ways to communicate with parents is the most effective way to ensure parents get all the information they need. More importantly, multiple techniques provide daycare centers with an open dialogue that allows parents to communicate during the timeframe most convenient for their busy schedules. However, your daycare facility already has a full plate of tasks to accomplish each day and having the funds to hire a full-time administrator to oversee this communication is unlikely. Luckily, there is a way to supply a variety of communication methods without taking on another profession.

Prime Childcare Software provides a variety of software options to empower you to streamline your childcare center management and communication techniques. Instead of personally taking the time to learn about the various communication methods and adapting them to the childcare industry, you can simply choose the solutions you need for your facility.

Prime’s parent engagement tools provide you with a variety of communication options that you can personalize to fit your unique daycare center. Our software automates daily communication activities, so you can get the feedback you need. Instead of working through several companies to get the communication tools you need, get all the software you need in one convenient place. Our parent engagement tools include the following options.

  • Online Parent Portal: Includes easy billing options, access to documents, calendars, updated information, and more.
  • Custom Branded Mobile App: Provides the ability to access all daycare information in one convenient place. The app is even fully customizable to include your facility name and logo.
  • Push Notifications: Enables you to send out important information and announcements quickly and efficiently.
  • SMS/Text Messaging: Provides a great way to get into immediate contact with most parents and supplies 2-way conversation on the fly.
  • Mass and Single Emails: Allows you to send out important information or make direct contact with certain individuals. Emails often coordinate with other forms of communication.

Remote communication is more vital now than ever before. Providing parents with a variety of options is one way to ensure you can communicate with all parents on a timely basis. Instead of trying to adapt retail software to the childcare industry, find the exact programs you need from Prime. To learn more about how we can empower you with great parent communication options, get in touch today. To get started right away, watch our demo and schedule an appointment online.

5 Tips and Tricks for Getting Children On Board With New Hygiene Requirements

Covid-19 has changed the way most businesses practice. If you run a childcare facility, you know this firsthand. As parents begin to head back to work and schools begin to implement reopening plans, you find yourself needing to balance getting things “back to normal” with hygiene and sanitation practices that keep children, parents, and staff members safe. 

Unfortunately, kids don’t understand Covid-19 the way that adults do. They don’t know why things are changing at daycare. Some children may even be receiving mixed messages between daycare and home about how much safety is needed in the face of Covid-19. So, how do you get kids on board with your new safety standards without confusing them more? In this guide, we’ll go over 6 tips and tricks for getting kids on board and actively participating in your new hygiene procedures. 

1.) Create Schedules and Routines

We know that kids thrive on routines. Adding structure to their day makes them feel safe and secure. By making your new safety procedures a routine part of their day, they’ll come to know what to expect. Don’t worry if their routines are different at home. Kids are adaptable, and they’re capable of learning that different environments have different schedules and routines.

Here are a few examples of how you can create routines out of new hygiene requirements: 

  • Always bring kids to the restroom when they come inside to give them a chance to wash their hands
  • Have everyone line up at the sink before and after meals for hand washing 
  • Create a designated place for kids to unload their bags and change clothes in the morning

Visual routines can be especially helpful for young children learning new rules. For example, you might have four pictures by the sink in the bathroom: one of the toilet, one of hands under water, one of soapy hands, and one of hands under water again. This can serve as a visual reminder to kids that they need to wash their hands after they use the bathroom. 

2.) Communicate with Parents

Although some parents may not agree with the changes you’re implementing in your daycare, it’s important that all parents comply with new regulations if you want their kids to comply. Send home clear notifications of any new rules and regulations your facility is putting into place. This will give parents an opportunity to talk with their children and will ensure that parents who aren’t okay with your new regulations are given an opportunity to place their children elsewhere if necessary. 

Some additional benefits to clear communication with parents include:

  • Some parents will be on board with your new regulations. These parents may help you by preparing their children at home, giving you fewer children to work intently with during the day. 
  • Children whose parents are on board can act as good examples to their peers, allowing you to benefit from positive peer pressure
  • Parents can come to you with questions or concerns instead of getting mixed reports from their children. 

Prime’s online parent portal makes it easier than ever to stay in communication with parents. With push notifications, SMS/text messaging, and emails, you can help parents in your circle receive information in the best way for them. 

3.) Sing Songs

So many kids love music. Studies show that music can improve brain development. If you’ve ever used movement songs like the Clean Up song, you already know how much fun kids can have with movement-based songs. Not only do songs make hygiene activities fun in the moment, but they also make the activities easier for kids to remember over time. 

YouTube is a great resource for songs about good hygiene habits. From songs about washing your hands to covering your mouth when you cough, you can find catchy ditties to sing along with almost any new habits you’re enforcing in your childcare facility. Singing turns hygiene activities into something fun rather than a chore, making it much easier to win kids’ cooperation. 

4.) Read Books

Children are often so much smarter than we give them credit for. When they understand the reasons behind new rules and regulations, they have an easier time complying. Right now, there are a ton of books to help kids understand Covid-19 and the reasons for new hygiene regulations. Adding a few of these books to your daycare library and reading them with kids can make new rules less scary and more logical. 

Some great books to get you started include: 

5.) Do Experiments

Hands-on experiments are another great way to help kids connect with the concept of germs, viruses, and Covid-19. Even the youngest kids can get on board with some fun experiments that show why your new regulations are so important. Here are some easy activities to help kids learn about the spread of germs. 

Glitter Activity

Mix together some body lotion and glitter. Explain that the glitter represents germs, and have one child rub the glittery lotion all over their hands. Now, have them do activities like play on the playground and shake hands with other kids. Observe how the glitter gets on everything. 

Next, have kids with glittery “germs” on them wash their hands for 20 seconds. Talk about how some glitter remains, but most of the glitter went away. This is a great way for even the youngest kids to visualize the spread of germs. The best part is that you can repeat it week after week to reinforce the lesson, allowing different kids to have the initial glitter “germs” on their hands. 

How Sneezes Travel Activity

Put some water and food coloring in a spray bottle to simulate how a sneeze can travel and spread across surfaces. Then, try different things like covering the spray bottle with a hand (covering your mouth) or placing a mask in front of the spray bottle. This is a great way to show kids why you’re asking them to cover their mouths, wear masks, or practice safe distancing. 

Bread Experiment

In this experiment, place five slices of bread in five different resealable plastic bags.

  • Slice One: Place in the bag without touching it
  • Slice Two: Have kids with unwashed hands touch the bread
  • Slice Three: Have kids who washed hands with soap & water touch the bread
  • Slice Four: Have kids who washed with hand sanitizer touch the bread
  • Slice Five: Rub the bread on popular daycare items like door handles or playground equipment. 

Label the bags and keep them where everyone can see. Over the next several days, you can watch together as germs take over the bags at different rates. This is another great experiment to help kids associate with germs. Because it takes several days to complete, it serves as a constant reminder to keep hands washed. 

A Note on Helping Kids with Sensory Challenges

For children with sensory challenges, including kids with sensory processing disorders and kids on the autism spectrum, additional hygiene protocols can be hard to follow. However, with some preparation and careful thinking, they can be brought into new hygiene requirements as well. Here are some tips to help kids with sensory challenges overcome new routines: 

  • Preparation is Key! Communicating with parents is even more important with kids with sensory challenges. Parents are often the best advocates for what their kids need and how to achieve success for their children. 
  • Ask the Child (or Parent)  If the child is old enough and capable of answering, ask them for tips on what might make things easier. Maybe they have a favorite soap you could use or a specific scent to steer clear of. If the child is younger or nonverbal, ask their parents for tips to help them thrive in your new setting. 
  • Offer to Separate If the child you’re working with gets overstimulated easily, consider offering them their own sink to use or allowing them to separate from other kids while following hygiene protocols. 

You Can Do This!

Your childcare facility is facing new challenges in lieu of Covid-19. Remember that the ultimate goal is to educate children and help them prepare to be successful adults. Instead of viewing new hygiene regulations as an obstacle, view them as teachable moments to help kids thrive today and in the future. By keeping a positive attitude about the situation, you can help kids get on board with new rules and stay safe and healthy in the process. 

How to Know If It’s Time to Hire Fewer (or More!) Daycare Teachers

Finding the right balance with staffing numbers is always tricky, even in the best of times. Like most businesses, though, day care centers are making tough financial decisions to keep their doors open. Dwindling enrollment numbers due to unemployment, the work-from-home movement, and concerns about the global pandemic are all rocking the childcare industry. When it’s time to make cuts, it’s often staff who are the first to go.

The Center for the Study of Child Care Employment found that of the 2,000 California daycare centers surveyed, 78% of them have already made staffing changes in response to the current economic climate. That story is repeating itself all over the United States, but it may not last forever. As concerns about the pandemic ease and more parents go back to work, enrollment numbers could shoot up. That could leave many daycare centers grappling with the question of when and how many new staff to hire.

So what’s the best way to make these tough staffing decisions? Here are some key metrics to help you determine whether it’s time to reduce your staff numbers or put out the “now hiring” sign.

Key Metrics For Achieving the Right Number of Staff in Your Daycare Center

When it comes to making a staffing decision for your daycare center, data is key. Of course, when it comes to your business, it’s good to have a healthy amount of gut-instinct sprinkled in, too. We’ll cover both of these. 

Looking at the Hard Data

  • Year-over-year student enrollment. Look back into your records and see where student enrollment was a year ago. How about two years ago? Collect data on the year-over-year changes in your enrollment. Where does it currently stand and how has that changed over the last five years? If the numbers are down drastically, then it may be time to make some cuts. If the numbers are the same or rising, then it may be time to hire new staff and grab an opportunity to grow your business.
  • Student-to-staff ratios. You probably know your ratios by heart. After all, the government publishes its ratio recommendations online. It’s probably the first question a lot of prospective parents ask you, too. While it’s pretty easy to calculate the current ratio, what you really want to look at is what happens if you change that ratio. For instance, if you lose one or two employees, will it mean you’ll need to drop any children from your enrollment? If you increase your staff numbers, could you also increase your enrollment numbers? Make sure you know your local, state, and federal guidelines for staffing requirements, too. You don’t want to make cuts and end up violating any rules.  
  • Know your counts. What time are parents arriving for pick up and drop off? How many kids do you have on a typical Wednesday? You need these numbers. They will inform you about what kind of coverage you need and when. That can be a clear indication of when you need more staff and when you have a lot of people standing around (and getting paid for it!).
  • Staff hours and scheduling.  Take a look at the total number of hours you are scheduling versus the total number of staff. Are you giving everyone the hours they want, or are you cutting them short to spread the available time around? Make sure you aren’t giving out more hours than you really have to give. Labor is usually one of the biggest expenses in a business, so being generous with hours is a surefire way to kill your bottom line. If you have more people than you do hours, it’s time to make cuts.
  • Cash flow. Expenses in child care centers are on the rise, with new requirements for PPE and cleaning supplies. You need to know the current state of your financials and how current changes are impacting them. Hiring a new person will be a big drain on your cash flow. You need to be reasonably certain they’ll bring a return on your investment, so proceed with caution. If money is starting to get tight and you can’t cover costs, though, then cutting staff is usually the most obvious (although painful) choice.

Your Gut Feeling on the Current Climate

While you can get the metrics above from data, you’ll also need to do a gut check when it comes to hiring and lay-offs. The biggest gut check you need to make is to consider the current climate you are operating in and whether those factors are here to stay.

For instance, is enrollment down because a large employer laid off a lot of workers? If the job economy is strong in your area, then your numbers could go back up rather quickly as parents find new jobs. Or is enrollment down because of a global pandemic? A lot of parents pulled their children out of daycare because of concerns over infection rates. They may have seen keeping their kids home as an easy to way cut their own expenses. But as the infection rate goes does, more children will need to go back into childcare.

So can your business weather the storm or is it time to make changes? It may be you need to have a few lean months but can avoid layoffs. Or it might mean starting to make those job cuts in anticipation of a long-term decrease in the number of students. Talk to parents, communicate with staff, and trust your instinct.

Making the Right Decision With Better Data

Many of the metrics you need to make these staffing decisions will come from data collected from your child care management software. If you aren’t already putting a good software package to use, now is the time. The reporting from good child care management software can help take the guesswork out of decision-making. Instead, you’ll have hard numbers for data-driven decision-making. That helps take the emotion out of it and give you a clear roadmap for the future of your child care business. Not using child care management software yet? Check out Prime Childcare Software. The intuitive interface allows you to simply point and click to get the information that you need. Your hours become more productive, your parents are more informed, and you’ll have the information you need to make the best decision possible. Schedule a free consultation with our team to learn more about our software package and how it could help your child care center thrive.

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