With summer right around the corner, it’s time to start planning for the school year ahead. Due to the impact of COVID-19 on childcare centers and preschools last year, it can be more helpful than ever to evaluate your business priorities before the busyness of the new school year begins. Just a little preparation on the front end can help you feel better equipped and ready for a fresh start.
Whether you’re already in the middle of planning or you’re just getting started, this article is for you. Here are 6 things you can do now to prepare your center for success so you can enter the new school year with more vision, confidence, and excitement!
1. Reflect on the past school year
Now is a great time to evaluate the past school year while it’s still fresh in your mind. Try using the start, stop, and keep framework to organize your thoughts:
- Start: what things do you want to try or experiment with at your program this year?
- Stop: what were some things you tried that didn’t work or weren’t a good use of your time?
- Keep: what were some things that worked well and you want to make sure to continue in the year ahead?
Write down your reflections so you can easily refer back to them. This can be as simple as jotting your notes down on paper or entering them in a spreadsheet or online document if you prefer. It can also be helpful to ask staff members to contribute suggestions and invite families to share their thoughts in an end-of-year survey.
You can use the following questions to help you decide which ideas to introduce next year:
- How big of an impact will this make? Is this idea going to save you a lot of time, help you scale your program, or help you retain staff?
- How difficult is it to implement? Is this idea going to require a big time or financial investment, or can it be achieved with a few simple changes?
A few hours spent now can save you a lot of time and resources next school year!
2. Update your policies to reflect this year’s needs
Fortunately, this school year will look very different from last year’s, so review and update your policies to reflect your current needs. For example, you may decide to allow parents back into the building this year, but keep a clause in your policy about charging tuition during unexpected closures.
Here are some suggested policies to evaluate:
- Tuition rates—especially if your capacity has changed
- Tuition charges in case of temporary closures
- Whether parents will be allowed inside the building
- Mask requirements
- Staff sick leave
- Staff referral bonuses
When updating your policies, always follow your state guidelines and licensing requirements for health compliance. It’s better to err on the safe side!
3. Organize your enrollment pipeline
To keep your enrollment process as efficient as possible, keep an organized record of who has inquired, toured, applied, and entered your waitlist. This will help you stay in touch with families in your admissions pipeline and ensure that no one falls through the cracks.
Prospective parents will likely have more concerns about health and safety this year, so try to carve out time every week to answer their questions and ease their concerns. Make sure you can also clearly articulate why a family should choose your center. You can start by asking current families for testimonials that you can share with prospective parents!
4. Map out staff career development and team-building activities for the year
Planning staff development and team-building activities ahead of time shows your teachers that you care about their growth, which can help boost staff morale and retention. Here are a few tips for mapping out your staff programs for the year ahead.
Planning for your staff development program
- Review your staff evaluations from the past year, and incorporate any common themes into your learning and development plans.
- Consider your staff team’s personal career goals so you can help them learn applicable skills and behaviors.
- Schedule your staff check-ins well in advance before your calendar starts filling up.
Planning for staff training
- Ask your staff what they want to learn so you can customize your training plan.
- Plan staff bonding activities before the school year begins to help establish a stronger team culture from the start.
- Schedule your staff training sessions early on so your teachers have plenty of advance notice.
- Make sure your staff know about any changing policies at your center and schedule a meeting to get them up to speed if needed.
5. Schedule your new family orientation days
Get your new family orientation days on the calendar early. Consider offering multiple orientation sessions to accommodate families' differing schedules. You can also ask for parent volunteers from your currently enrolled families—prospective parents will appreciate the chance to connect with them during the orientation.
Planning early on also allows you to start a list of things to prepare so you have ample time to buy supplies, print packets, and do anything else needed to prepare for a successful new family orientation!
Make sure to download our free new family orientation checklist to help you plan a great event!
6. Determine what tools you’ll need to succeed
As you plan for the new school year, evaluate what’s missing from your current tools and processes by thinking through your reflections on what to start, stop, and keep doing.
Ask yourself these questions:
- What would make your life easier?
- What processes took up the most time for you and your staff?
- Could the quality of your program or your staff morale be improved if you introduced time-saving tools or processes?
Tools like brightwheel can help you streamline all the aspects of running your childcare or preschool business, including:
- Tuition billing
- Daily reports
- Family communications
If you’re not yet already using technology for your day-to-day operations, there’s no better time than before the new school year begins to start researching and learning more.
If you’re interested to see how brightwheel can help you have an amazing new school year, chat with one of our team members today!
We are sincerely grateful for all the hard work you do every year to provide quality care and education for our littlest learners. We wish you a wonderful new school year ahead!
To learn more about how to best prepare your program for a fresh start, check out our on-demand training, 7 Smart Ways to Set Your Center Up for Success Next School Year!
Brightwheel is the complete solution for early education providers, enabling you to streamline your center’s operations and build a stand-out reputation. Brightwheel connects the most critical aspects of running your center—including sign in and out, parent communications, tuition billing, and licensing and compliance—in one easy-to-use tool, along with providing best-in-class customer support and coaching. Brightwheel is trusted by thousands of early education centers and millions of parents. Learn more at www.mybrightwheel.com.