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Improve Activities & Experiences with After School Program Management Software

After school programs are more than just a resource for busy parents who need extra child supervision later in the day. They are another way for children to socialize with their peers, learn new skills, and gain new experiences. When selecting an after school program in which to enroll their child, parents look for a well-organized, well-staffed program that offers a slew of activities that are both fun and foster early child care development.

after school program activities

Key Challenges of After School Programs

Delivering high-quality after school program activities is often easier said than done. If program directors add multiple new activities without consulting enrollment numbers, available staff, or additional necessary resources, they risk being over / understaffed or spending money on programs that parents don’t want.

Even with a well-assigned staff and high enrollment, there are still many organizational and administrative factors that have to be considered before the fun can start. These include:

  • Enrollment forms that inform instructors on each child’s health or specific needs must be submitted.
  • Schedules for children and staff have to be created and updated.
  • Attendance must be tracked and promptly reimbursed in order to ensure regular cash flow.

Moreover, after this is all taken care of, instructors should keep track of recurring trends and the overall efficiency of their after school program management plan, and make adjustments accordingly.

These back-office functions are incredibly time-consuming, especially when you have to be looking after a large group of active children. After school program management software is necessary to complete these tasks in an efficient and detailed way, ensuring a high-quality after school program that parents trust.

after school program planning

How After School Program Management Software Supports Your Activity Offerings

With after school program management software, you can automatically complete and track administrative tasks to see where you have the time and resources to add more activities to your program. The right after school program management software should address a few key functions: attendance tracking, scheduling, registration, and billing, to streamline your back-office functions. This also gives instructors and parents a central information hub that they can update and get alerts from in real-time.

Using a software solution will help to organize the activities you offer, or want to offer, at your after school program in two key ways.

First, it will ensure that for each activity you offer at your program, you have all of the necessary forms, meet staffing requirements, and have an updated roster of children who are participating.

Second, the solution will show you trends in the types of activities that get the most sign-ups, allowing you to make informed decisions on the kinds of experiences you should add to your program that parents are interested in. You will also better understand how much it costs to add another activity based on staffing and supply costs, and how much money you have coming in.

Key Features & Benefits of After School Program Management Software

Here are some of the key benefits and features after school program management software offers:

Registration

After school program registration

Before the first day of your after school program, you have to collect all pertinent personal information about students and their families, such as information on allergies, or emergency contacts. This information has to be updated and available even when offsite.

Procare’s Family Data module provides standard child care forms that are easily available and printable to track child and parent information at a moment’s notice. Instructors can also create their own custom forms and permission slips to easily email or print and distribute to parents. This ensures that no matter the activity, or where it takes place, instructors have all of the necessary permissions and are alerted if a form is out of date. 

Attendance & Scheduling

After school attendance and scheduling

Incorporating an Attendance Tracking feature into your after school program management software allows you to record the hours each child spends in your care. Tracking each child’s hours based on digital check-in and check-out cards allows you to accurately bill parents on attendance-based fees.

Additionally, you can track and account for extra days, late pick-ups, and overtime. The attendance tracker simplifies communication by enabling after school program instructors to send messages to parents, as well as allows parents to view their child’s schedule and account balance.

By adding the Employee Data module to attendance tracking, you are also able to view staffing and attendance trends and keep track of student to teacher ratios, allowing you to adjust your scheduling plans accordingly to any missed opportunities.

Finally, monitoring children live at check-in and checkout also adds a level of security to your program, as there are controls to ensure only authorized guardians are dropping children off and picking them up.

By tracking employee hours and attendance, you have a better understanding of the resources you need to run your program, and are better equipped to bill for the actual number of hours spent caring for each child. This also gives you a better idea of how to allocate resources for future scheduling of activities.

Billing

child care billing

A standardized billing process ensures parents are aware of their account balance and history, and assists in collecting payments on time. Family Accounting software simplifies your program’s bookkeeping tasks. This solution automatically records financial reports and histories, allows instructors to track deposits, and prints receipts for parent’s tax purposes. Additionally, within the Family Accounting platform, you can track charges, set up recurring fees, and automate billing in conjunction with the number of hours recorded by Attendance Tracking.

To further simplify billing for your program and for parents, you can incorporate Tuition Express to the family accounting module. This gives parents and easy way to automatically pay their bill online and on time, every billing cycle. This is convenient for parents, and ensures a steady cash flow for after school programs to pay for supplies and pay roll.

Billing is one of the clearest benefits of after school program management software. Without a solid structure in place to make sure you are receiving payments on time consistently, it will be impossible to improve your program with new activity offerings. 

Final Thoughts

Parents’ expectations of a high-quality after school program have shifted to include a myriad of activities and learning experiences. While after school caregivers are eager to provide their students with these abilities, it’s essential that there are enough students enrolled to fill the programs and enough staff to supervise them. You also must confirm there is a strong billing structure in place to have regular cash flow to pay for supplies and space.

Ensuring all of these tasks are managed and updated on a regular basis can result in hours of extra work. But, using after school program management software brings automation and organization to your processes, so your students and their families have the best possible experience.

Are you interested streamlining your after school program with a management software? Learn more about how Procare can help.

10 After School Program Activities That Promote Early Child Care Development

It is a common practice in many countries for parents to enroll their young children in early education programs. There are many factors that motivate parents to leave their children in the care of education professionals for a portion of the day outside of school hours. A common reason for this is scheduling. If both parents work, it can be hard to provide the stimulating, nurturing environment children require. This is one way after school programs can be a valuable resource to parents.

After School Programs1

While it is, of course, important for parents to know their children are safe and being cared for while they are occupied, this is not the only reason they will enroll their kids an after school program. These programs offer active, social environments that can greatly benefit early child development.

Parents expect after school programs will offer a curriculum of activities that promote early child care development to keep their children on track, and developing at the right pace for their age. In order to create an after school program that incorporates all of these important elements, providers must understand what early child care development is, and why it is important.

In this post, we’ll clarify exactly what we mean by early child care development, explain why it’s important, and provide some ideas and activities for provider to more successfully promote it.

What Is Early Child Care Development?

After School Programs2

Early child care development is the educational foundation children receive between birth and eight years old, which can have a lasting impact on their performance in school and professionally for years to come. These programs give children the opportunity to develop greater social and cognitive skills among other children and adults. Successful programs promote emotional, linguistic, cognitive, physical, and motor development.

Why Is Early Child Care Development Important?

Early development initiatives make for happier, healthier children who are better equipped to have success in their education, professions, and relationships.

Over one million neural connections are formed every second in the first few years of a child’s life. Social and emotional abilities developed through the activities and interactions experienced in early education assist in the formation and development of cognitive skills. This lays the groundwork for further brain development moving forward.

Early child development initiatives are also important because experienced childcare professionals are able to closely monitor their students to ensure they are developing at the proper pace. If it appears that a student is not learning or moving at the same rate as their classmates, instructors can coordinate with parents to give the student individualized attention in that specific area.

Seeing each child interact with their peers gives early educators a unique perspective for how to best monitor and enhance their development.

10 After School Program Activities to Promote Early Child Development

To ensure children get the most out of after school programs, the activities offered should facilitate their development in one or more of the fundamental areas previously mentioned (emotional, linguistic, cognitive, physical, and motor development).

We’ve outlined ten ideas and the specific developmental functions they augment to help busy childcare providers better manage after school programs. With this information, early educators can ensure the highest quality care, as well as happier, healthier kids.

Emotional and Social Development

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These areas of child care development require children to learn impulse control, form positive relationships with kids and adults, and how to articulate and respond to their emotions and the emotions of others.

1. Mood Charades: This is a fun, active way to teach kids what different emotions are, and how they are often physically expressed. Write out different emotions so that each student gets the chance to act out one or more emotion. A few examples are hopeful, confident, nervous, etc. Have kids raise their hands when they have a guess as an additional way to incorporate impulse control.

2. Inside Out: The recent movie Inside Out is a valuable resource for educators to teach children about emotions, impulse control, and social cues. Watch the movie with your class and come up with discussion questions using the characters and their actions for examples to help kids understand how they should respond in similar situations. 

Language Skills Development

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These skills help kids understand how to communicate with others by recognizing what words mean, articulate thoughts, and understand communication and direction from others.

3. Perform Skits: Acting out everyday scenarios using descriptive language and talking through each action you are performing can help students learn normal conversation patterns and social cues in everyday situations. For example, have a “dinner” or go on a picnic. While sitting around the table or have the kids describe their favorite and least favorite things to eat.

4. Guessing Games: Being descriptive can help kids better understand the meaning behind speech. Put students in pairs and give them an object, scene, or person to describe and have the other students guess until they get it correct. 

Cognitive Skills Development

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Cognitive skills help kids to reason, focus their attention on a task, and remember past activities.

5. One of These Things is Not Like the Other: Dolphin, Whale, Crab, Cow. These kinds of games help kids discern patterns and understand how things associate. Bring in props, like stuffed animals to give visual examples. Then have students explain their reasoning behind their choice. Cows are not aquatic, so they are not like the other.

6. Hide and Seek, Simon Says: These games help kids develop their problem-solving skill, in addition to expanding their attention spans and focus, as they concentrate on the rule of the game and completing a specific task.

Physical Development

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This refers to developing the large muscle groups that allow children to perform large physical movements, like walking down stairs, or running.

7. Races: Have students compete is small races doing different movements such as hopping, skipping, or jumping to a certain point. These different types of movements will improve their balance and coordination.

8. Freeze Dance: Put on a song for the students to dance to. When the music stops, they have to freeze and be perfectly still. This is a fun and active way to improve balance.

Motor Skill Development

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Motor skill development refers to the smaller, more detail-oriented tasks done with your hands, such as writing, or tying a shoe.

9. Art Projects: Doing art projects like drawing with chalk, sculpting something out of Play-Doh, or cutting out shapes with scissors is a good way to strengthen kid’s hands and fingers, and make them more self-sufficient when performing smaller, more delicate tasks.

10. Building Blocks: Another way to facilitate the development of fine motor skills is building with smaller blocks or Legos. Give kids a specific design or shape to make and have them build it by piecing together each properly shaped block.

Final Thoughts

When parents enroll their children in after school programs, they trust that a professional staff is giving them the mental and physical stimulation they need. Because of the lasting impact early experiences have on children, it is important that the curriculum of these programs is designed to foster and monitor early development to ensure children are on the right track. By following these examples and targeting these areas of development, childcare providers ensure a fun curriculum that will make their students happy and healthy.

Looking to simplify your after school program operations? Learn how Procare can help with everything from enrollment and scheduling to payments, billing, and more.

Managing Data for After-School Programs

Teacher Helping Children Paint during After-School ProgramNo matter what type of after school programs you offer, from art and music to soccer and basketball, there’s one aspect they have in common—data management.

As the program director, you need to keep track not only of who’s in which activity, but also registration, sign-in sheets, attendance records, activity fees and family payments.

To simplify management of your after school programs, you’ll want robust, secure and flexible software to maintain your data. Your ideal solution will automate and streamline time-consuming administrative tasks for after school activities.

With that in mind, here are a few ways to more efficiently manage data for your after school programs with Procare Software. Continue reading

Center of the Month – Sugar ’n Spice Preschools

As you may already know, each month we choose a child care center, preschool or similar place of early childhood learning as our Center of the Month. Centers are selected for this honor from information they provide for their free MyStory web page (see Previous Article). For the month of July, we are pleased to announce Sugar ‘n Spice Preschools and Vacation Station of Lafayette, Louisiana as our Center of the Month.     Continue reading

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