4 Ways to Update Technology at Your Childcare Center
How much screen time should children be allowed? Should we add screens to the classroom or take them out? The debate over technology for young children continues to rage among parents, researchers and child care providers. As a childcare business coach speaking with daycare directors all over North America, I see how hot this topic really is.
The default response to the debate seems to be to avoid technology, leading to outdated equipment and onerous business administration. Whether technology upgrades are avoided due to fear of using screens in the classroom or whether it is simply a lack of resources, a discussion needs to be had about the benefits of technology as it pertains to childcare.
Before we begin, I'd like to set the record straight. I am not a huge fan of screen time, specifically for children under 3. Studies have indicated that screen time before the age of 3 can have a net negative impact. However, this doesn’t mean that as childcare centers we should shy away from technology and miss out on the added value for both our center’s management and our classroom learning.
The real question is, how can we use technology to help grow our centers and increase the learning opportunities of the children in our care, while avoiding the pitfalls? Today, we are going to focus on four specific ways that technology can increase security and add value to both the management and teaching in your childcare center.
1. Webcam Access
If you don’t have cameras in the classrooms at your child care center, now is the time to start thinking about adding them. Granted, many centers are hesitant to set up webcams in their center due to various concerns including fears of a security breach or parents seeing something they shouldn’t.
Although some of your concerns are warranted, there are actually many benefits to classroom webcams and many of your concerns can be alleviated by webcam service providers. Most companies that provide webcam services are well aware of the security concerns and go above and beyond to ensure the little ones are safe.
In regards to concern about parents seeing something they shouldn’t, as a director, this increased accountability is only a positive. If a staff member is mistreating a child at your center, this is putting the child at risk and the livelihood of your business in jeopardy, and the quicker you find out the better for everyone involved!
Classroom cameras can help you oversee how situations are dealt with in the classroom and hold your staff accountable. It will also provide transparency that your parents will really appreciate and help build credibility for your child care program. Let’s be honest, if we’re providing great care, why wouldn’t we want to let parents witness it? In addition, in today’s busy society this is increasingly a selling feature, as parents love to see their kids during the day, even if they can’t be with them.
Okay, so you’re thinking about it but don’t know where to look for webcam services? Some reputable companies that many daycares successfully use include Daycare Webwatch, WatchMeGrow, KidsVision, and PB&J TV. While we’re on the topic of security, let’s move on to sign in/out technology.
2. Sign in/out
When providing care for young children, you know that security is of the utmost importance. Making sure you have a safe and secure sign in/out process will provide peace of mind to you and your staff as well as parents who have entrusted their children to your care.
As opposed to using archaic and cumbersome paper sign in/out sheets, many companies offer sign in/out kiosks that allow parents to securely sign children in and out while simultaneously storing a record of this information for licensing purposes.
New restrictions with COVID, are an even better reason to look into Contactless Sign in/out systems which allow parents to complete the sign in/out process without the need to use a center device. This will not only make sign in/out easier for you and your clients, it will show them that you’re serious about maintaining a secure sign in process while preventing the spread of germs at your center. The best part of these systems is they can be bundled in childcare management software which we’ll look at next.
3. Childcare Management Software
If you are like thousands of childcare owners who are still managing their entire business on paper/excel and Quickbooks, please STOP. There are affordable childcare management system options that will save you tons of time and energy with; billing, child files, staff management, immunizations, daily communication, contactless check in and much more.
Thousands of childcare centers are using software like this to streamline the management of their center, freeing up time for more important things like growing your business and spending time with the children.
Want to get a better look at childcare software solution? Get started for free!
4. Computer Access for School-Age Children
Whether we love technology or not, It is clear that most school-age students will have online homework from time to time, especially with the hybrid models most schools are running due to covid. This means that if your center has school-age programming then having computers with student access is key. Especially in a time where full time teaching in school is no longer a guarantee, being prepared for every outcome is key.
If we are building a program around our customers, then meeting their needs is a must. This means we need to take a close look at increasing access to computers and other technology despite reservations. With this increased access, however, it is important to have strict policies to limit access and moderate use. It is essential, and possible, to protect children from the dangers of the internet world, while allowing them to benefit from it’s vast potential.
Adding technology to your center in even one or two of these simple ways can improve your childcare center tenfold. Although this is an audacious claim, I have experienced the difference that childcare technology can make. By embracing the benefits and addressing the dangers of technology you will not only make your center safer and more secure, but you will have more time for the important things. Your families will rest assured that you have invested in the technological infrastructure to provide safer, easier, more transparent childcare where not only your business thrives but their children do too!