Quality Time and Teaching – a Contradiction in Terms?
I realise this may be a contentious article in present COVID-19 times. Not to worry - we will again return to a time of sanity. To a New Normal, but one in which many of the old demands and stressors will still be there to beguile us...
So, you’ve decided to become a teacher at a Child Care Centre. Or perhaps you just want to move to a new school. Or, you may be moving to another town and must find a new job.
There could be many reasons for a change in career, or in location. Regardless though – this time you’ve decided! "Enough! I’m tired of working my fingers to the bone and not having enough spare time for myself! Or not enough quality time to spend with my own family."
"This time it is going to be a work/life balance!"
The best laid plans of mice and men…We all know how it goes. You start off with the firm intention to spend more time on yourself and your family, and then – POOF! Two months down the line and you have become so involved again in your day to day activities that it is just business as usual! "Where has my day gone?"
Just like the story of the Grinch who stole Christmas, just so easily routine tasks within a Child Care Centre can suddenly steal your joie de vivre. But there is a way around this. A way to again capture the indomitable power of optimism that you used to feel!
Use technology to your advantage…
The aim of this article is to illustrate how using a proper CCMS (Child Care Management System) in your school can save you time (and money) and set you free to also allow more time to yourself.
What Keeps a Child Care Centre Teacher Busy?
"What?" I hear you say. "Is this a trick question?!"
No – we realise that as a Child Care Centre teacher, you are a UNIQUE person. Let’s face it – this type of job is not suited to everyone. Not everyone has your love for children, your passion for seeing children grow and develop, your drive to make sure that the little ones will eventually be school-ready, and last but not least – your absolute devotion to look after other people’s children, welcoming them in the morning, treating them like your own during the day, and then setting them free again towards the evening.
Not to even mention the skills that you require. These include effective and efficient communication (remember what we said in a previous article about the difference between effective and efficient?), the ability to instruct a group of children, and of course having an affinity for young children.
It is a selfless job, and often a thankless one as well. There are so many competing priorities for your time – let’s look at only a few (yes, yes - we know; we are preaching to the converted…):
- Provide materials and resources for children to explore and use, both in learning activities and in imaginative play. Read books to classes.
- Attend to their basic needs by feeding them, dressing them, and changing their diapers.
- Teach basic skills such as colour, shape, number and letter recognition, personal hygiene, and social skills.
- Establish and enforce rules for behavior, and procedures for maintaining order.
- Organise and lead activities designed to promote physical, mental and social development, such as games, arts and crafts, music, storytelling, and field trips.
- Observe and evaluate their performance, social development, and physical health.
- Identify children showing signs of emotional, developmental, or health-related problems, and discuss them with supervisors, parents or guardians, or child development specialists.
- Meet with parents and guardians to discuss their children's progress and needs, determine their priorities for their children, and suggest ways that they can promote learning and development.
- Enforce all administration policies and rules governing students.
- Serve meals and snacks in accordance with nutritional guidelines.
- Adapt teaching methods and instructional materials to meet children’s varying needs and interests.
- Arrange indoor and outdoor spaces to facilitate creative play, motor-skill activities, and safety.
- Maintain accurate and complete student records as required by laws, district policies, and administrative regulations.
- Prepare reports on students and activities as required by administration.
- Attend professional meetings, educational conferences, and teacher training workshops in order to maintain and improve professional competence.
There are many other tasks, but we know you get the message - and a sense of déjà vu…
A golden thread that links many of the above points together, and that the astute reader would have picked up on by now, is the issue of communication: communication with children, with peers, with parents, administrative staff, and many other.
So, we must look at a way to prioritise our communication and other routine tasks if we want to save time.
Ways to Prioritise
Parents always appreciate the efforts you make to keep them updated about their children’s progress. There are various ways to go about this:
- Face-to-face interactions always remain the best, but parents do not always have the time.
- You can create a website for interaction, and most Child Care Centres have such. It takes time to update a website though, and normally a dedicated resource.
- A newsletter is also a great idea, but again - what medium are you going to use? The website? E-mails? Both? Again – somebody must do it.
- Regular parent conferences, for instance once a semester, is also a good idea, but again – you are unlikely to get all the parents together at any given time.
This is not to say that the above methods and tools are not of value. Of course they are! And if you can implement them – great!
However, what we are talking about here is how you can prioritise routine tasks, as well as routine communications. The obvious answer is automation.
Now as far as non-routine tasks are concerned – there are many tricks and tools that you can use, and we will in future also talk a bit more about these. For instance – a "quick and dirty" method to prioritise tasks can be found here. This is more suited to tasks related to for instance a project. There are many other approaches, like Affinity Diagrammes, Brainstorming etc.
Again - we will deal with these in future articles.
But when we talk about automating routine tasks and communications, there are very few better approaches than using a Child Care Management System, also sometimes called a CCCS (Child Care Communication System).
Parent App as the Ultimate Time-saving Tool
Parent App’s strengths reside in the following capabilities of the software:
- Track Attendance. Attendance of children and teachers can be tracked. Review working hours and leaves of employees to assess performance. Keep track of when children are present or absent due to sickness or a vacation. Saves time for principals, teachers and admin staff.
- Monitor Staff-Child Ratios. Parents enter the expected pickup time when they drop their The system predicts the expected attendance throughout the day and projects the staff-child ratio, which principals and admin staff can access at any time. Schools can meet regulatory requirements and identify staffing shortages and excesses and take immediate actions. Saves time for principals, teachers and admin staff.
- File Incident Reports. Teachers can send digital incident reports to parents with photographs and videos. Parents can then acknowledge picking up their child in the condition mentioned in the report. All the records are stored digitally. Saves time for teachers.
- Manage Parental Permissions. Centers can easily manage parent permissions by creating consent forms on the platform and sending it to all involved. Parents also receive automated reminders until they reply to the permission request. Saves time for teachers and admin staffs – no repetitive emails or calls.
- Document Management. Manage all formats of documents at one place. Conveniently share them when needed while choosing different view and edit permissions for every user. Saves time for teachers and admin staff – once it’s done, it’s there! This goes for curricula as well!
- Attendance Registration. The app allows parents to check-in their children when they are inside the center’s perimeter using the in-app attendance feature that uses geo-location. Saves time for teachers – no attendance registers to maintain.
- Create Customisable Lists. Users can create ultra-specific, auto-updated lists. When new students with allergies are registered, they are automatically added to the allergy list. When they leave the childcare, they are automatically removed. These self-updating lists help childcare centers to keep their records current without active staff intervention.Saves time for teachers and admin staff.
- Children Management. Aligned with the previous point - have all the child’s information in one place and keep up to date records of important health information such as allergies, immunization, and doctor’s information. A detailed daily report for each child that can be easily filtered to show the statuses you want to view such as food consumption, nappy changes, moods, and much more.
- Real-time Reporting. Create records of sleep timings, meals, toilet visits, diaper changes, moods, and other daily activities. Make instant entries to create comprehensive and centralised records. Saves time for teachers – no reams of paperwork.
- Class Overview. Be informed of the attendance, nap times, meal times, birthdays, and more information of all kids in each class. Saves time for teachers – once captured it’s done.
- Graphics. A detailed graph lets you know how many days the child was sick, on vacation or had a planned holiday. This will help you asses if the child’s performance is affected by the number of days missed. Can be useful for reporting by teachers, without having to draw graphs separately in Excel or similar.
A better work/life balance is the way of the future, and the way in which most developed countries and businesses are heading as far as managing employees are concerned.
Because let’s face it – one day when you retire you don’t want to talk about how much time you spent at work – no matter how much you loved it! You would rather talk about how much time you spent with your loved ones.
But having to work is unfortunately for most of us a necessary fact of life which we have relatively little control over. What we DO have control over though, is HOW we do it.
For Child Care Centres, implementing a CCMS like Parent App is the way to go to get the most out of your staff, and to allow your teachers time to let them realise their capabilities best – both at school and in their private lives.
- Career Planner. Com. https://job-descriptions.careerplanner.com/Preschool-Teachers-Except-Special-Education.cfm (accessed on 08 February 2020).
- https://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-preschool/38070-effective-parent-and-teacher-communication-for-preschool-tips-for-teachers/ (accessed on 09 February 2020).
- Gonzales, J. 5 Powerful Ways to Save Time as a Teacher. December 2015. https://www.cultofpedagogy.com/40hour/ (accessed on 09 February 2020).
- Teacher Certification Degrees. https://www.teachercertificationdegrees.com/careers/preschool-teacher/ (accessed on 08 February 2020).
- https://www.parent.eu/ (accessed on 10 February 2020).
 Doing the right things.
 Doing things correctly.