Friday, July 29, 2011

Save Time with Daily Reports from the Tadpoles and Tadpoles Pro Apps

The Tadpoles Pro app launched a new beta feature for better childcare management, giving parents with the Tadpoles app greater visibility into their child's day.

The Tadpoles and Tadpoles Pro apps recently launched a new beta feature, daily reports. Daily reports allows easy and quick data capture of feedings and meals, naps, play time, medications, bathroom visits and diaper changes.

For Parents
Parents are granted easy access to the report via their iPhone or iPad or the web at the end of each day to know how and when their child was taken care of. In addition, parents will be able to view reports over time, allowing them to make connections and see patterns about their child’s behaviors.

For Teachers and Daycare Providers
Directors and teachers have access to all of the reports for all of the children they are responsible for. Over a period of time, the data in the reports can be analyzed in order to identify patterns about an individual child.

As always, all information is shared securely and privately, ensuring only an invited parent has access to their child’s report.

Go Beta
The new beta feature is now available in the app store, with the full release to be launched on Aug. 15. Get the beta version here.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Keeping Cool in the Classroom

As temperatures continue to rise, learn how to keep your cool in the classroom.

As a heat wave sweeps across the country, it’s about that time in the summer where parents, children and teachers are all thinking about the same thing—back to school! However, with temperatures throughout the country at record highs, and countless schools without air conditioning, managing a classroom, particularly with younger kindergarten aged students, will be tough.

Some tips for keeping cool (and keeping your cool) in a hot classroom include:

  • Provide water bottles, or encourage trips to the water fountain, to ensure children stay hydrated
  • Leave lights off
  • Keep windows closed on humid days
  • Bring multiple fans and distribute evenly throughout the classroom

However, even when taking precautions, children, and teachers are still going to be uncomfortable. Try to think of innovative ways to use technology in the classroom, something that will take their mind off the heat.

Finally, make sure you stay organized. Having to frantically run around, shuffle through papers and keep track of which child is going home with who is troublesome enough, but add 100+ degree temperatures, and it can be a nightmare. Try using childcare management software for keeping track of attendance, contact information and class schedule to keep you calm, cool and collected.

Have additional tips? Share them with the teaching community by commenting on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Four Day School Week?

The four day school week is being considered in schools throughout the country, but how does it really affect students, parents, teachers and daycare providers?

Earlier this week, it was announced that schools in Harrisburg, Ore., are considering a four day school week. The decision came about due to a projected shortfall in budget of approximately $600,000. By compressing five days of school into four, the district will be able to save up to $135,000 through using fewer utilities. However, there’s still a lot of speculation as to whether or not these savings would actually be realized. The final decision still needs to be approved by teachers, but if approved, the four day week would begin this fall.

What this Means:

For Students
Most students will probably be thrilled by the idea of having one less day of school a week. However, with younger children in particular, they may find it difficult to pay attention during the longer four days throughout the week. Although they would only be arriving 15 minutes earlier and ending 20 minutes later than their current schedule, it may still cause youngsters to get antsy. Also, if children get used to only going to school for four days a week, how will it affect them later in life when they have to work five days a week?

For Parents
Parents of children, especially working parents of elementary school aged children, may not like the four day schedule, as they will have to find alternate arrangements or daycare for their children on Fridays. For parents who are able to work adjusted hours in order to pick their children up from school and avoid daycare all together, this may be an even larger issue. Some parents simply do not want their children in daycare and might have a tough time entrusting their children with someone new.

For Teachers
While some teachers may like their new schedules on a personal level, it will mean a lot more work on a professional level. Getting the same amount done in less time is something we all struggle with, but for teachers, their results are measured in the success of their students. At the end of the year, students will still need to be prepared for standardized tests and there will be less time for teachers to ensure that they are prepared.

For Daycares
Daycares may experience an increase of students on Fridays, meaning more responsibility when it comes to managing schedules of both the children and their parents. In addition, daycares may have to deal with parents who never wanted to place their child in daycare. These parents may need some extra reassuring that their child is in safe hands—keeping them updated via pictures, videos and reports would be a nice touch.

What do You Think?
Whether you’re a parent, teacher, or daycare provider, let us know what you think about a four day school week. Do you think it’s a good idea? Could you see a four day school week being implemented in your area? Let us know by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Shooting for the Stars...Technology can Help!

The Keystone STARS report recently identified technology as an important factor in the quality of care at early childhood education facilities.

Keystone STARS, an initiative of the Office of Child Development and Early Education (OCDEL) to improve the continuous quality improvement efforts of Pennsylvania’s early learning and school-age programs, recently released a best practices for financial award spending report and came up with some interesting findings.

Technology & Early Childhood Education
Particularly, their findings on technology and computer access are crucial to the success of both childcare businesses, parent satisfaction and childrens' futures. The quality of early childhood education is more than just the classroom and parent involvement, but also the technology that staff has access to. At the very least, early childhood education centers should have one functional computer with internet access and printing capabilities, but there’s so much more that better technology could offer.

Best Practices
Better practice would have multiple computer stations for educators to use, and better yet, the computers would be networked to keep track of family information. In addition, email usage is critical, as email is becoming the preferred method of contact, especially for busy parents on the go.

According to the report, “The use of a childcare management software solution can greatly enhance a program’s ability to manage data, meet reporting requirements and monitor fiscal status.” However, some childcare management software can be very pricey. Even with a financial award, there is only so much money to delegate to technology in order to cover other needs.

Software vs. The Cloud
Rather than buying expensive software and having to install it on multiple computers on a network, web-based applications such as the Tadpoles Pro app, are offered for little to no cost. In addition to providing an easy-to-use daycare management system, the app offers functionality to send parents updates in the forms of pictures, videos and reports throughout the day. Some early childhood education facilities may send parents an e-newsletter every once in awhile, but this process can be time consuming and cumbersome. Rather than sending a generic e-mail, each parent can receive child-specific information, which takes much less time for childcare providers than traditional e-newsletters.

Does Technology Improve Early Childhood Education?
Do you think the use of technology in early childhood education centers can make for a better child, parent and teacher experience? Let us know what you think by commenting here or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Friday, July 15, 2011

The First Day of Preschool

The first Day of Preschool can be Tough... for Parents, Children and Childcare Providers

For Parents, sending your kids to preschool can bring about a slew of fears—will they receive good care, will they make friends, will they behave well and will it affect your relationship with them are just a few that come to mind. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your child is probably just as much, if not more concerned!

Even if your child is used to attending daycare, the preschool environment will have a stronger focus on early childhood education, in addition to all new classmates. If this is your child’s first time away, they may even experience some separation anxiety. Here’s some tips to help make your child’s experience as pleasant as possible:

1) Set Up Play-dates
Prior to the start of preschool, it’s important that your child experience what it’s like to play well with others. Try arranging a play-date with one of your friends’ or neighbors’ children to make sure they’ll be able to play well with others when their first day comes.

2) Create Excitement
Approximately two weeks before they’re scheduled to enroll, create excitement by circling the enrollment date on the calendar and adding a sticker with your child each day leading up to it, or even create your own advent calendar. A few days before, offer a surprise reward for having a successful first day.

3) Control Emotions
On the big day finally arrives, give a simple goodbye hug and kiss, trying not to get too emotional so the child’s anxiety does not increase. If you promised a reward, don’t forget it!

4) Stick to a Routine
After the first day of preschool, be sure to follow a routine on how you say goodbye and how you pick your child up everyday so as to avoid any separation anxiety.

For Preschools, the first day can be just as tough. With a whole new set of parent and children information to learn, it can seem overwhelming at first, but with the right tools, it can definitely be manageable. Using childcare software allows providers to quickly take attendance, easily access parent information, record student progress, check payment status, create lesson plans, validate pickup, and best of all, take photos and videos of children to send to parents, offering peace of mind. In addition to using childcare software, it’s important to encourage parent involvement, both in and out of the classroom.

Parents, if you’ve already started your children in preschool, what are some additional tips to ease their (and your) first day? Providers, share your stories of first day jitters on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Got Tadpoles Pro? Get the Update!

The Tadpoles Pro app was recently updated for even more efficient daycare management

It’s never easy managing a daycare, but during the summer, things can get particularly tricky—Johnny’s on a family vacation until Tuesday, Susie is staying with her grandparents this week and you’re not quite sure when the twins are supposed to get back from summer camp. In addition to the changing summer schedules, children are constantly being enrolled, graduating and returning.

That’s why Frogsquared updated the Tadpoles Pro app. In its latest release, the Tadpoles Pro app offers daycare providers more enhanced features to better manage the classroom, particularly when it comes to scheduling. Tadpoles Pro now automates the activation, graduation or return of students on any pre-specified date. Every night, the Tadpoles Pro app will check to see if it’s time for students to start, graduate or return back from a break.

E-mail notifications will be sent summarizing any changes in scheduling and any expired changes will be automatically removed, allowing daycare providers to stay organized and plan in advance, rather than having to manage each individual students’ status every day.

Kelly Bouthillette, Child Care Director at Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Education Center, recently upgraded and said, "Tadpoles Pro has been a wonderful addition to the workings of my facility. It gives me the ability to be free from my desk. Whether I’m in another classroom or at home, I can see number’s and staffing in each room and can contact parents right from the app. It’s wonderful!"

Get the updated app here, or if you’re new, get started with Tadpoles Pro today!

Friday, July 8, 2011

iPads Aren’t Just for Adults

New iPad apps for early childhood education that engage kids - should they be used in preschools?

Parents may love receiving photos and videos of their children via the Tadpoles app on their iPhones and iPads, but what about the kids? There are a ton of great iPhone and iPad apps on the market that not only keep kids entertained, but also serve as educational tools. Here’s a list of some of the top apps:

Toy Story
Disney's Toy Story app is a great story book and includes movie clips, games, coloring, and sing-a-long tunes. Parents can also record their voice to read each page, allowing their child to hear the sound of their voice even when they aren’t around. Free

Wheels on the Bus
This award winning app is aimed at toddlers and plays the song “Wheels on the Bus,” in addition to narrating a story. Throughout the story, kids can interact with the characters in the story. $1.99

This is My Story (And I'm Sticking to It)
Kids can create their own personalized stories by dragging labeled pictures into blanks within sentences. Once complete, finished stories can be saved and read allowed by the narrator for the child to enjoy. $.99

The Going to Bed Book
This app is an adaptation of the book from children’s author Sandra Boynton. The app depicts the story, which includes activities done before going to bed, and fills it with interactive elements. Watch the video below to see how seamlessly this app works. $2.99

While some kids can play with their parent’s iPads when they get home from daycare or school, I’m wondering if a lot of daycares and schools are starting to incorporate iPads into play time, or even learning time! If you’re a teacher or daycare provider, let us know if iPads are used or have been considered for lesson plans or recess by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages. free polls
Does Your Daycare or School Use iPads for Early Childhood Education?
Yes Not yet, but hopefully soon No, but may consider it No way   

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Parent Involvement with their Child’s Preschool is Crucial during Early Childhood Education

The success of early childhood education is dependent on parent involvement.

Parental involvement in early childhood education (preschool) is a quintessential factor that strongly influences the development of a child. From birth to approximately age six, a child’s brain and personality develop far more rapidly than at any other time in life, which is why parents play such a key role.

The future academic success of a child relies heavily on parental involvement during the preschool years, so it’s important that parents not only choose a great preschool, but also be informed on everything that occurs on a day to day basis.

For working parents, especially Dads, it can be difficult to know everything that goes on while your child is at preschool. But, a good preschool will make sure that communication is open between teachers and parents and encourage involvement, helping to bridge family life and school life for the child. For preschools, it’s not always easy to get parent attention, or perhaps one parent is more involved than another.

There’s a lot of tips on how preschool teachers can ensure parents are more involved, but its important to recognize that in many households, both parents work, and they may not have time during the day to attend a lot of events. Today’s parent is constantly on the go, so encouraging parent involvement remotely has become increasingly popular.

Preschools that use the Tadpoles Pro app can encourage parents to download the Tadpoles app on their iPhones. Once both parties have their apps, pictures, videos and progress reports can be exchanged in real-time.

Now, when it’s time to be picked up, parents will already have had a glimpse into their child’s day. This allows parents to ask more specific questions and avoid the infamous, “nothing” response to the question, “What did you do today?” By provoking the child’s mind with a specific question about a picture or video of themselves, the child becomes more engaged and more likely to share details about their day.

If you work at a preschool, are there any programs in place to increase parent involvement? Parents, how involved are you in your child’s early education? Let us know your involvement by commenting below, or on our Facebook or twitter pages.

Monday, July 4, 2011

Happy Independence Day!

From the Frogsquared family to yours, we wish you a happy and safe Independence Day!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Free Daycare Software, Tadpoles Pro, Featured in Parent Express Magazine

Tadpoles Pro, free software for daycare, was recently featured in Parent Express magazine!

Parent Express, a monthly magazine for parents in the Philadelphia area, recently featured Frogsquared’s app for childcare providers, Tadpoles Pro, which allows parents to stay connected to their children during the work day.

Cofounders of the app, Andrew Monroe and Bill McHugh, both have young children, so they realized the difficulties of being away for long periods of time and created a way for parents such as themselves to be more connected with their children’s everyday lives. Since both Monroe and McHugh were avid in mobile software development, they joined forces to create free daycare software, providing real-time visibility to parents such as themselves and an organizational tool for daycare providers. The greatest part of Frogsquared, said McHugh, is “...the awareness that our Tadpoles app delights parents everyday by providing them with visibility of their children’s activities. Every day we smile from the parent comments we receive. It's extremely rewarding.”

The Blessed Teresa of Calcutta Education Center (BTC) in Schwenksville, PA was an early adopter of Tadpoles Pro, realizing that the app not only helps put parents’ minds at ease, but also reduces the amount of paperwork for teachers. BTC’s Childcare Director, Kelly Bouthillette, stated, “It has been a very helpful tool to send reminders as well, and the teachers love that they can share all of the fun moments with the parents.” In fact, over 75 percent of BTC’s parents are using the Tadpoles app for parents.

One of the best features, according to parents such as Tammy Fisher, are the pictures. “We receive numerous pictures throughout the day, which allows us to get an even better idea of who our son plays with, what activities he likes, what toys he likes, as well as being able to capture adorable photos! We show the pictures to our son and it prompts him to share more details about his day than he would without them. Writing on a daily report to parents, ‘Your son dressed up as a dinosaur today,’ is nothing compared to the actual photo,” said Fisher.

Frogsquared’s mobile apps, Tadpoles and Tadpoles Pro are currently available for the Apple iPhone and iPad, but versions for Android phones and tablets will be available by the end of the summer.

Read the full article in Parent Express, and discover the meaning behind “Frogsquared.” Have a question? Feel free to contact us, or connect with us on Facebook or twitter.