In today’s day and age, childcare has become a critical aspect of our society. According to a recent study, 32.7 million children have been involved in some sort of regular childcare arrangement while their parents worked since 2011, and that number is only expected to grow. The increased enrollment, coupled with the understanding that children who engage in early childcare programs are usually healthier and better prepared for school, has prompted an unprecedented shift in mentalities as to the place and value of childcare. Given recent findings that indicate that the first five years of a child’s life are among the most important for a child’s physical, intellectual, emotional and social development, childcare has essentially become synonymous with early childhood education. This changing landscape has prompted a dramatic change in both parents’ expectations for services provided as well as childcare centers priorities for activities and engagements. For parents, for whom the decision to enroll their child in a program used to “only” comprise of weeks of research, conducting interviews with potential childcare facilities, assembling pro/con lists and judging their child’s chemistry with their new environment, now has to include what and how learning is incorporated into the daily routines. Childcare centers, consequently, are shifting their focus to provide increased opportunities for enrichment and development. As with many industries, these rapid changes and newly rising trends have been largely facilitated and guided by technological advancements that are being embraced in new and unique ways by the childcare industry.
Perhaps the most significant way that the implementation of technology in childcare facilities has impacted the experience has been through opening the door to enhanced communication from providers to parents (and vice versa!). As you might assume, parents always want to know how their child is doing while they’re out of sight – if their needs are being met, if they’re being challenged (and subsequently how they respond to those challenges), what kind of relationships they’re building with the world around them, etc. Communication applications and platforms that allow video streaming are just a few of the ways that information is now being delivered. Parents now can find out what’s happening with their child almost immediately after it happens. These “real-time communication” are changing the very face of the parent/provider relationship, offering parents an unprecedented level of peace of mind that is provided by daily (or even hourly!) updates. The information that might have once been encompassed by a monthly newsletter that supplemented the daily ritual of the hello/goodbye has now become a daily flurry of photos, group messages, texts, and video streaming. Communications have become more frequent and more useful, which benefits everyone. Applications like ours go one step further by allowing parents to give immediate feedback to the provider by giving an update a “love it” when it’s received, as well as sharing any changes in medications, food sensitivities and special needs. By introducing additional forms of two-way communication, it ensures that children are better being taken care of.
Much like schools are making the shift to personalized teaching approaches, so to are childcare centers transitioning to interest-driven learning. Studies have found that in the first few years of life, 700 new neural connections are created in a child’s brain each second, so placing children in a mentally stimulating environment is crucial to maximize their potential for learning in the rest of their lifetimes. Naturally, what interests one child may be of next to no interest to another, resulting in a lost opportunity to foster that mental growth. Childcare centers are not only helping children to develop those unique interests, but they are using apps like ours to share when an interest has been sparked. By sharing with parents through texts or photos what a child has exhibited interest in that day, childcare facilities are empowering parents to foster those interests at home, leading to a more symbiotic relationship that is ultimately more beneficial to the child’s development than both parties working independently. For example, let’s say that your daycare’s unit focus for the week is dinosaurs. Jane comes home and announces that she want to be a paleontologist, which leads to a family outing to the local science museum to checkout their exhibit on dinosaurs. While there, Jane learns about other professions centered around exploring the past and has her interest piqued by anthropology. The following week, instead of continuing to focus on dinosaurs with Jane, her daycare provider gives her a book to read about mummies. When contrasted with the possibility that a parent might never have known about these new developments in their child’s life, it makes real-time communication apps look like a no-brainer.
At first blush, it may appear as though these updates are most beneficial to the parent. After all, they’re on the receiving end of the communication that the child is often completely unaware of, a communication that the provider had to take it upon him or herself to provide. However, these communications ultimately help to drive more meaningful relationships between parent and child by providing color around the a conversation that might have otherwise been fact based (“what did you learn in school today?” “Nothing.” “What did you do at recess?” “Played.”) and closed-ended. Despite today’s children being more verbal than ever, every parent knows the struggle of trying to have a worthwhile interaction with a taciturn subject. Being armed with the specifics of a day that the real time communication apps like ours provide allows conversation to flow more naturally, making a profound difference in the quality of the conversation. It is these differences that can lead to a parent’s ability to help a child navigate preschool drama, as opposed to staying completely unaware of it. After all, anyone who has had a richly rewarding conversation knows that the difference between a stilted interaction and an engaging conversation is by providing the details that can provide the foundation for follow-up and expansion. By giving your child a fairly innocuous lead like, “I saw that you were playing with Tommy at recess”, you might open the door to a more significant conversation about why they weren’t playing with Joey. Most importantly, by paying attention to what happens throughout the day, it helps children to feel like you really care about their wellbeing.
In addition, being provided with updates will help parents take better advantage of the “in-betweens”, as one might call them. Children don’t love having a designated time to sit down together and have a deep meaningful conversation. Rather, those conversations happen organically – during commutes, bedtime, and other timeslots that occur in-between the other major blocks of the day. When you’re sitting parallel, not making direct eye contact, it may be easier for some children to open up and talk about what’s really on their minds. It will also help you to create talking rituals with your children, which are predicated upon your child’s conversational style. For example, if you have a kid that’s slow to wake in the morning, but a chatterbox in the afternoon, your most valuable communications may occur on the car ride home. Conversely, if you have a kid who is an early riser that is exhausted after a day at daycare, you might be better off waiting until you’re driving in the next morning to talk about the events of the day before. The key to openness lies not in changing these talking rituals, but embracing them and working within the opportunities they provide.
For those who argue that technology has no place with young children, the benefits truly outweigh any potential disadvantages. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) argues “when used intentionally and appropriately, technology is an effective tool to support learning and development.” Today’s children are growing up as digital natives to an unprecedented degree and technology is sure to have a major impact on their future education and work lives. Moreover, real time communication apps like ours at PreciouStatus aren’t being used directly by the child, but rather, by the adults responsible for the child’s care. Study after study has proven that parent engagement is a central component of a child’s development and apps like ours make that engagement possible for parents who are working or who aren’t directly involved in the day to day care of their child. We’ve known for some time that parental engagement is a key component of a child’s success in school – logically, we can then infer that the same is true of children at a young age. In fact, the Harvard CODC argue that early life experiences and the environments in which children develop in their earliest years can have lasting impacts on later success in school and life. Together, these findings indicate that parents absolutely must find ways to be an active part of their child’s life if they want to ensure that the child achieves their highest potential. For many, the easiest way to do that is through embracing applications that provide more frequent updates on how their child is spending their day.
As a provider, you may be wondering if implementing some form of parent/child communication application would be beneficial to your business, and if so, how much additional work it would be for you to see value. With the PreciouStatus app, the answer is next to none. To quote one of our teachers who has successfully implemented the app in her classroom, “PreciouStatus saves me 90% of the time I spent attempting to communicate with parents — and does it better.” Conversely, parents rave about the apps many features. Lisa, one of our parents, said, ““Picture updates are the best! They give you a warm and fuzzy moment — a layer of warmth that can’t be matched.” Outside of the warm fuzzies, the benefits of utilizing PreciouStatus are innumerable for your business. For one, a recent study found that 59% of parents expressed that they would like more information about their child’s activities and learning while in a childcare program or school. This knowledge demonstrates that parents place a premium on facilities that utilizes real-time communications apps and are more likely to select one to place their child in over a center that doesn’t offer similar features. It’s for this reason that we offer entirely free 30-day trials for any childcare center that’s considering adding a real-time communication app to their service offerings. Additionally, when you utilize PreciouStatus, specifically, it allows you to promote your facility through custom branding at no extra charge. AND, if you’re not particularly tech-savvy (and even if you are!), you’ll be able to receive personalized, hands-on assistance from our tech team whenever you need it.
Does a free trial of the PreciouStatus app sound interesting? Getting started is easy with the help of our dedicated, professional support team! If you’re a childcare professional, we partner with you or your administrators to make the setup process easy. We handle everything, ensuring any questions or concerns are fully addressed prior to moving forward. Simply follow these easy steps:
- Contact us via this form to initiate the conversation.
- Our support team loads your roster of children’s names and parental email addresses into the PreciouStatus system (we never ask for additional private information like birthdates, credit card numbers or phone numbers).
- Our support team walks you through the setup process and how the app works.
- We send instructions for downloading the free app and creating an account to all parents.
- Providers begin saving time, parents begin receiving relevant, timely updates about their children’s progress, and everyone begins to see better results.
Outside of real-time communication, technology can be leveraged by childcare providers in a myriad of ways will make previously mundane tasks easier and more efficient. Take, for example, attendance tracking. With our application administrators are able to access a dashboard that helps to track attendance, arrivals and departures, as well as child/student history. This will help your staff to work more efficiently, allowing more time be dedicated to daily activities as opposed to performing simple administrative tasks.
As we continue to move forward, real-time communication apps like ours will only become more prevalent as our “tell me now” society demands more access to how their children are doing. How the information is harnessed and used, however, is still in the hands of the parents and the provider. Together, we firmly believe that the stronger partnerships that are built through more frequent and more meaningful communication between parent and provider will lead to better things for our children.