Every year that I have been in the early childhood field, I have faced the same problem. There is never enough time in the day to get everything done! It didn’t matter whether I was in the classroom or whether I was the administrator — I always had a long “to do” list. I’m going to share with you some of the best ways to gain back your time. We all could use tips to work smarter, not harder in child care or preschool.
Let’s ditch some of the time consuming methods and find ways to do what we want to do! I am thrilled to work with Kangarootime to bring you some wonderful ideas so that you can focus on what’s most important – the children!
Good Teachers are Worth Their Weight in Gold
It is no secret that the turnover rate in the child care field is high. I mean super high! I’ve seen programs suffer from having a mediocre staff, and finding new staff is a time consuming and costly process. This also sends a huge red flag to potential new families.
If you want a thriving, successful program, it is absolutely necessary to hire hardworking and caring individuals. Great teachers help keep families in your program and attract other top notch teachers.
Here are some of the things that you can offer to attract and keep high quality staff. Many of these ideas came from centers that I chose to work at because I felt that they valued me as an employee:
- Paid vacation time
- Paid sick time
- Free childcare
- Good healthcare
- Performance based bonuses
- Free meals
- Paid Planning time
- Paid 15 minute breaks
- Flexible hours and schedules
Labor costs are high and usually a center’s biggest expense. However, it is worth it. Your staff is an investment, and they should be treated that way. You may have to start smaller and increase perks and benefits gradually, but it should be a priority!
Delegation is a necessary skill. If you don’t delegate, you can quickly become buried under paperwork, clutter, and an endless “to do” list. I am speaking from experience here! The times that I didn’t delegate, I felt as though I was drowning, which quickly leads to burnout.
Delegating in the classroom means teaching the children to pick up, to help one another, and to even have daily duties. Children love watering the plants, dusting, setting the table, organizing, and more, and these practical life skills can be a huge help to you at the same time.
For administrative tasks, there are also many ways you can lighten your load. Hand over the tedious tasks such as sending invoices and receiving payments. Making invoices, collecting payments, recording payments, and sending out reminders are all so time consuming. With Kangarootime, you can let them take care of it all while you focus on investing on the relationships with your clients.
Get out of Survival Mode
The first year that I had my in home preschool, I kept saying to myself “This is harder than I thought!” It was more hours than I anticipated, more cleaning than I ever wanted to do, and I hadn’t even scratched the surface with what I wanted to do.
When I was in survival mode, I knew I had to get out! I did not want to be weighed down by the aspects that were mundane and tedious. I was going to make it work and to love it again.
I was working 60-80 hours a week the first year that I owned my preschool, and it needed to stop. I decided to close on Mondays, and I went from looking for full time families to part time families. What a huge relief that was. Now I was only working 50-60 hours a week, but I still needed to cut back more. I had two small children to take care of in addition to owning a business, and I knew how precious my time with them was.
I cut my hours again. My program went from being open 10.5 hours a day to 7.5 hours a day.
I started to feel energetic and alive again. I had time to rest and to plan things. My creativity sparked more, and I was a better teacher than before.
Then something amazing happened. My program was no longer full. It was bursting at the seams with a huge waiting list. I wish that I had known the potential of this decision earlier! Working long hours only put me in survival mode, but cutting back gave me my wings again.
Ditch the Paper Clutter
When I was an Assistant Director of a large child care center, half of my job was paperwork. I never got into the education field to do paperwork, but I just happened to be good at it. While I spent many of my days working on files, printing off sign in sheets, figuring out staffing, and sorting out the day’s statements , my heart was longing to get back to my passion — working hand-in-hand with the teachers and the children.
A lot has changed in the past 10 years, and with the new technology from Kangarootime, there is no need for administrators to spend countless hours doing enrollment paperwork or making a fancy formula to figure out staffing and head counts.
I used to think that we would never move into a time in my day and age where electronic forms would be completely acceptable, especially when it came to getting licensing’s stamp of approval. I am so glad that I was wrong! Forms such as sign in and out attendance logs as well as menus can be stored electronically now. Even employee files can be managed online through Kangarootime.
Getting rid of paper clutter frees up so much time and space, and I am making it my own personal goal to replace as much paper clutter as possible!
More About Kangarootime
In any business, there are lots of fine details and hours of behind the scenes work. Sometimes these tasks and mundane details can steal our passion, especially if we are bogged down.
Kangarootime is an app that was designed for hard working child care programs, preschool programs, and in home programs. After seeing many of the many functions of Kangarootime and talking with the developers behind it, I knew I had to share this great resource with you all. They take the everyday tasks that child care programs spend countless hours doing and make it an easy, automated process! It is designed to be an all in one center management platform, so that you can easily connect with parents and handle the administrative details, quickly and efficiently!
With Kangarootime, you can even send communication to parents and families instantly and securely, while avoiding your important messages getting lost in their email. It is available to programs in the U.S. currently and will be available in Canada in the summer of 2016 and in the U.K and Australia in 2017.
Learning to work smarter, not harder in child care is starting to look a lot easier!