A common topic I see on Facebook groups, forums and the like is around the setup of devices in childcare centres.
"What devices should I use?"
"How many devices should I have in my centre?"
"Where do you put devices in your centre?"
Well, fear not. We will cover all of these things and more so you can set your centre up for success.
Some considerations for setting your centre up with devices for software success
If you're thinking about your software usage and device setup, there are a few things to consider. These are:
Number of staff, children or rooms
How often you use software
What you use software for (e.g. admin, documentation, programming etc.)
These things will determine the what, how and where when it comes to devices in your service.
What Devices To Use In Your Service
There are two parts to this topic. What type of device, and what brands to use.
Let's look at the types of devices.
1. Computer v. Laptop
Firstly, you will definitely need a computer or laptop. If you have the money and space, I'd opt for both.
Computers usually have higher storage, power and speed compared to a laptop, but they're also a little bit more expensive and aren't portable.
Laptops will be really good if you're a busy director or owner who is always on the go. Their portable nature means you can work from home, the office or a cafe if you need to.
And depending on what you're doing on the computer, you might need more than one device for multiple people (Admin, Directors, 2ICs, Educational Leaders).
So if you can get both, that might be the way to go if you need the high speeds/storage and portability.
2. Tablets v Mobile
Most childcare apps have a tablet and mobile version that allow educators to document and communicate with parents.
In theory, both work equally as well. But there are some advantages and disadvantages either way that may sway your decision. Let's go through them.
Firstly, you might be tempted to use mobile devices. After all, your staff will have their own devices and it will save you money on buying devices. It also means each educator will have their own device, so no sharing tablets.
But do you really want parents coming in and seeing educators on their phones when caring for their children? How are they to know the educators are doing documentation and not scrolling through Facebook? And similarly, how do you as a manager know they're not replying to texts?
Not just that, but it may also breach your policies for staff members to have a child's information on personal devices that they can access at home.
So whilst it may be the cheaper and more convenient option, it looks a lot less professional, may breach policies, and you run the risk of distracting educators when they get personal notifications (e.g. text messages).
Tablets on the other hand are larger - which makes them a little less mobile but so much better for reading and writing (which can lead to better documentation). They also look more professional than doing documentation on a mobile device.
However, this will mean buying more equipment so it could be costly, and you're likely to be sharing devices between educators which means logging in and out. It could also lead to human error (i.e. forgetting to logout and doing documentation as another educator by accident).
Personally, I think the benefits of using tablets outweigh the negatives, but do whatever works for your service.
3. Apple v Android
This one totally depends on preference. Some people get really passionate about their allegiance to Apple or Android. A few things to think about:
Apple can be expensive, whilst there are some cheaper android alternatives. But remember - you get what you pay for!
Your team may prefer one over the other - ask them! After all, they will be the ones using the devices.
Now that you can decide WHAT you want to use, let's look at HOW & WHERE to use those devices.
Where To Put Your Devices, and How Many To Get
Similarly, this one will depend on how busy your service is (staff/children), and your budget.
But it also depends on what you're using software for. Here are just a few functions a childcare app like OWNA can help your perform:
Signing in/out, and documenting visitors
Admin (Accounts, Enrolments, Rostering, Timesheets, Payroll)
Health & Safety
DID YOU KNOW: OWNA helps you with all of these things? See just how much time you can save, and simplify your childcare management with Australia's only true all-in-one childcare management software.
Having worked with over 3,000 childcare centres, this is most common setup we see:
1x tablet in the entrance for sign-in/out (staff & children) and documenting visitors
1x tablet per room for documentation
1x computer, plus 1-2x laptops in the office for admin (depending on how big your centre is)
This is a good starting point, and then you can figure out your team needs from there.
But it's REALLY important to stress - listen to your team and do what works for them!