Whether you’re a classroom teacher or childcare director, proactive, ongoing, and open parent communication is a critical aspect of your job. Parents want and need to know about the ins and outs of their child’s day when they’re not around. Daily sheets are a traditional communication tool to keep parents and providers on the same page.
At brightwheel, we’ve had the privilege of working with thousands of childcare programs. We’ve gained valuable insights into what kind of information parents want to know about their child’s day, and how to best share those updates to build trust with families.
This guide will show you how to create effective paper daily sheets, as well as how digital reporting can improve your day-to-day operations and strengthen communication with families.
Why daily parent communication matters
In any early learning setting, it’s important to build strong relationships with parents. Every parent wants to know that you see and value their child as an individual. A personalized daily report is one small but important piece of this puzzle. No matter how busy a parent might seem, they want to know about their child’s day when they are apart.
Think about the conversations you have at morning drop-off. It’s helpful when a parent tells you their child was up three times in the night, or their dad is traveling for work. These are important pieces of information for helping you set their child up for success that day and knowing what to expect in terms of mood and behavior.
The daily sheet returns this favor to parents at the end of the day. Knowing whether or not their child napped, how much of their lunch or snacks they ate, and if they had any bathroom accidents gives the parent an idea of what kind of evening they might have together as a family (and also whether or not they need to do laundry!).
What to include in your daycare daily sheets
A quick internet search will reveal an almost infinite number of daily sheets templates you can download and use in your classroom. Whether you’re interested in creating your own, or just want to make sure to choose the right template, here are the most important features of any daycare daily sheet.
Personalized for each child
The most important feature of a daily sheet is that it is specific to each child. You can use the same template for everyone in your class, but the information on the daily sheet will need to be personalized to reflect how each child’s day went.
Cover the basics
At the very least, you want to cover the basics of eating, sleeping, and using the bathroom. You want parents to know how much their child ate, whether or not they slept and for how long, and how their diaper or potty training went that day. This will be slightly different for each age range: infants, toddlers, and preschoolers.
Summarize the day
Beyond the basics, including a high-level summary of a child’s day can be really helpful for a parent. Was the child generally happy? Was it a hard day? Was the morning great, but the afternoon more difficult?
How to go above and beyond for parents
To really go above and beyond for parents, your daily sheet should also give insight into the activities of the day. Did their child spend a lot of time in the block area? Did their child play with some specific friends? Did their child show excellent behavior during class, or lend a helping hand to a fellow student? Did the whole class do a special science experiment? These kinds of details give the parent questions they can ask their child about their day.
You can also add a section about health and any incidents that might have occurred throughout the day. Naturally, parents will want to know if their child fell and hurt themselves, or experienced an allergic reaction during snack time. As childcare centers continue to navigate COVID-19, it can also be helpful to include a temperature section on your daily sheets. Recording this information will remind families that you’re proactively monitoring the health and safety of your students every day, and parents will appreciate having a running log of their child’s health details.
Ask your parents for feedback
If you’re curious about what other information families want to see on their daily sheets, send a simple survey to collect their feedback. Once you receive the results, evaluate what parents are requesting. Perhaps there’s a piece of information that multiple parents are interested in or confusion about how your current daily sheets are formatted. Make edits to your existing templates accordingly, and remember to let parents know you’re listening to their input and acting on it!
Daily sheet templates for infants, toddlers, and preschoolers
Each age group (infants, toddlers, and preschoolers) will have different information that’s important to share in a daily sheet. Here, we’ll break down the basics of what should go into the ideal daily sheet for each age range.
We’ve also included free, printable daily sheet templates for you to use for each age group!
Infant daily sheets
When creating and filling out an infant daily sheet, it’s important to get very specific about eating, sleeping, and diaper changes for each infant. You’ll want to list out both the times and the results of bottle feedings, meals, naps, and diaper changes. When the infant was given a bottle and how much they consumed are equally important details. This is also true with napping and diapers—the when and the what are both important for parents to know.
Toddler daily sheets
Your toddlers are likely on a group schedule, meaning they eat and sleep roughly at the same time every day. This doesn’t mean your daily sheet doesn’t need to report on these things, but the focus of what you report on will be different.
Instead of the timing and quantity of bottles, you’ll want to highlight the types of foods offered at snacks and lunch, and how much a child ate.
Once your toddlers are all on a one-nap-a-day schedule, it’s less about timing and more about duration of the nap. Though, of course, if a child falls asleep really late, it’s worth mentioning that to parents.
The toddler years are often when potty training is being introduced, so make sure to include space for those details as well.
Preschool daily sheets
The focus of the preschool years is much more on learning and school readiness, and your daily sheets should reflect this. You can still include details about naps and meals, but the emphasis should be on the learning that happened throughout the day.
This serves two purposes:1. It allows parents to continue the learning at home.
- 2. It showcases the work you are doing to support their child.
For many adults outside of the early education world, seeing how play connects to learning is difficult. By explicitly sharing how the activities and play happening in your classroom connect to school readiness goals, parents will feel confident in the care and education their child is receiving.
Improve your daily sheets process by going digital
Daily sheets are a powerful tool for building trust and strong relationships with your families. However, when you’re using pen and paper, it can be hard to stay on top of filling out forms for every student. Paper daily sheets can also be time-consuming for your staff, hard for parents to keep track of, and even costly—paying for paper and ink adds up quickly!
For these reasons (and many more), moving your daily sheet process from paper to digital is one of the best things you can do for your childcare business. By using childcare management software like brightwheel, you can effectively cut down on busywork, improve communication with families, and most importantly, focus on the work that matters— educating and developing young minds.
Paper daily sheets versus digital reporting
There are four key benefits to using digital reporting instead of paper daily sheets.
1. Effortlessly maintain your records.
Oftentimes, paper daily sheets are easily lost in the shuffle between pick-up and home, and are difficult to organize or refer back to if families want to keep a record of their children’s activities and milestones. With digital daily reports, parents won’t need to worry about misplacing their paper forms. Families will always know where to find each day’s report, and can easily look up past logs to see what their child did on any given day. Digital reporting also allows teachers and staff to update parents in real-time on their child’s activities, helping families feel more connected and engaged with their child and their center.
2. Cut down on administrative costs.
Paper daily sheets also require a lot of resources. The cost of paper and ink adds up quickly, and it’s time-consuming to print enough sheets for each student (and deal with the occasional paper jam in the printer!). If you make any edits to your daily sheet template, you’ll also need to reprint each form, and you might end up wasting older printed forms that are outdated. Digital reporting eliminates the need for printing, saving you and your staff valuable time and expenses. With digital reporting, you can also easily customize the activities you log for each student based on their needs, your center’s programming, or even unexpected circumstances such as COVID-19. You’ll no longer spend hours updating templates and wasting supplies in the process!
3. Save valuable time for your staff every day.
Paper forms can also create unnecessary busywork for your staff and teachers. Writing each student’s daily sheet twice—one copy for parents and one for internal records— takes a lot of time and is hard to do thoroughly and accurately. Digital daily sheets allow your staff to work quicker and smarter. By logging reports online, your staff can input information efficiently, cut down on redundant tasks, and include a greater level of detail and precision in each student’s report. Most importantly, digital reporting helps your teachers focus on working directly with children instead of managing paperwork.
4. Keep your center safe during COVID-19.
Digital reports can also help your center minimize the spread of germs during COVID-19. As many childcare providers continue to reduce their face-to-face interactions with parents and families, digital reports eliminate the need to exchange paper and other materials during pick-up time, helping to keep your center safe and in-compliance with COVID-19 guidelines.
How brightwheel can help
With brightwheel, you can seamlessly automate your daily reports, record classroom activities, and share everything with families in real-time. With a click of a button, teachers can easily log these daily sheet fundamentals:
- Food: Teachers can quickly record what students ate for meals or snack time, and create custom menus for tracking purposes.
- Naps: Staff can easily log the beginning and end of naps and see who is currently sleeping at a glance.
- Potty: Staff can track every diaper change and potty break with ease.
Brightwheel also includes daily reporting features that go above and beyond in helping families feel connected with their children:
- Photo and video: Staff can upload a quick snapshot or video to a student’s feed at any time. Parents will appreciate getting a window into their child’s activities and experiences, whether it’s a glimpse of the day’s arts and crafts session or snack time.
- Incidents: Staff can quickly log any incidents like a scraped knee at playtime so parents are always kept in the loop.
- Kudos: With Kudos, teachers can show recognition and appreciation for students doing a good job and share those moments with families.
- Health checks: This is an especially important feature during COVID-19. With health checks, staff can easily record a student’s temperature, post a photo, and add additional notes, creating an accurate health log for each student and giving parents peace of mind.
Brightwheel is honored to help thousands of early educators save more time, run their centers more efficiently, and strengthen communication with families through these digital reporting tools. If you’re interested in learning more about how brightwheel can help your center, request a demo today!
As you improve your daily sheets process, you’ll remind families how much you value each student and how committed you are to their holistic education and development. We hope this guide is a valuable resource for you, and that it helps you continue to provide excellent care for the children at your center!
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.