In 2011, Early Childhood would change forever...
The introduction of software into the ECEC space meant that educators finally had a way to streamline their mountain of work and reduce their daily stress.
Parents also had closer access than ever before, allowing them to reduce the stress they felt from not knowing what their child was up to throughout the day.
The third piece of the puzzle was the Director or the Provider. By seeing what was going on in their centre, they could eliminate the stress of the unknown.
But somewhere along the way, something went wrong.
Growing workloads, growing demands & growing numbers of apps have meant that the initial purpose of tech - lowering stress in ECEC - has somehow ended up having the opposite effect.
Too many apps has led to more pressure, lower efficiency, and ultimately more stress for educators.
Now I must point out that this isn't the case in every service.
Some centres have impeccable processes that keep this over-digitisation under control.
And I'll show you how it's done.
A 7-Step Process
We can all make a pact to prevent over-digitisation. But it's so easy to get out of control.
To simplify your tech and keep it that way, I'd suggest adopting this 7-step process...
1. Write down everything you do
Go through a typical week, a month and/or term. What are the tasks you do? What are the tasks your educators do? Write a long list.
2. Put them into 'buckets'
Now put your tasks into 3 categories:
- Not Important
3. Go through your ESSENTIAL tasks
Are you using tech? If not, there's probably a solution that would make it faster.
e.g. Enrolment forms are essential for compliance. You could get the family to fill out a paper-based enrolment form and input the data into your system to send off to CCS, OR you can send them a link to fill out a form that can go automatically into your CCMS.
4. Go through your IMPORTANT tasks
Identify the most time-consuming important tasks, and flag them as high-priority for tech. The ones that aren't time consuming can be left as is.
e.g. it's important for families to feel comfortable, and part of that is knowing what their child is doing. Depending on family demands, it may be extremely time consuming to post updates to a private Facebook group and then do a write-up for your documentation on paper. Many apps allow you to communicate with families whilst simultaneously doing documentation. If you're spending too long on both, it might be time to combine them.
5. Go through your NOT IMPORTANT tasks
Eliminate them. You don't have time for tasks that aren't important. If you must do them, delegate it to someone with more time on their hands.
e.g. families may not need to receive ALL daily info about portions of food, nappies, sleeps etc. Pick what's important, eliminate what's not important, and explain to families how it will help you care for their children better.
6. Set Boundaries
When we over-promise, it can eat into our personal time to deliver on them; Responding to families, taking part in team discussions, ticking off tasks for the day. None of this should be done at home. Set boundaries so your educators can avoid burnout.
7. Consolidate your tech
The average employee logs into 10 apps per day just to do their job. That's insane. You can't keep adding a new app every time you need to do something. Instead you should be looking for the least amount of tech that help you with the most tasks. And you don't need to use everything in the app. Just pick what you need (from the lists you made).
Are you relying on tech too much?
Are you scared of tech and not using it at all?
There is a balance, and it takes some thought.
Let's get back to using tech to reduce stress, not to simply do more.