Center Name: Atelier Kids | Location: Toronto, Canada
Running a high-quality childcare center is no easy feat, it requires dedicated professionals who are not only passionate and educated about the field of early childhood, but are prepared to wear multiple hats on a daily basis. Whether you are working on high-level strategy, supporting parents, on the floor with the children, managing finances or running to your local store for more classroom materials, everything that happens in a childcare center is important. A high-quality childcare program has long-lasting positive effects on the development of young children, and is a critical component of a thriving community.
Access to any childcare program is not what families are looking for. They are looking for a warm and safe environment that is rich with language, conversation, exploration and developmentally appropriate learning experiences. The key distinguishing factor that sets any childcare center apart from a high-quality center, is finding one that is dedicated to growth, professionalism, quality parent interactions, and that recognizes the value of the critical work they do.
One such center is Atelier Kids, located in Toronto, Ontario.
We had the pleasure of sitting down with the Owner and Executive Director of Atelier Kids, Bernadette Testani and Jenna Niven, at our HiMama headquarters in Downtown Toronto. We had the chance to speak with them about how they run a successful and thriving high-quality childcare program and these were their top pieces of advice.
Partner with HiMama
“The barriers in early childhood education can be so big, so institutionalized and so daunting to overcome without the right support at your center. Over the years, more regulations have been added to this field, and the more checklists we have, the less time we have for the children. That is where HiMama comes in. HiMama makes the passive communication of basic information so easy that educators then have more time for meaningful conversations with the families and hands-on learning with the children. That is what it should all be about” – Bernadette Testani
“On top of administrative work, one of the biggest burdens we face is the lack of respect. HiMama plays a role in changing that narrative. HiMama takes care of our basic day-to-day administrative tasks which then frees us up to do more hands-on and meaningful learning with the children. We can then go back into HiMama and showcase our work with the families. The more parents can actually see what you are doing, the more insight and understanding they have and therefore more respect for the work you are doing” – Jenna Niven
Improve employee experience to reduce turnover
“We have not had any staff turnover in over a year, and that is not because of luck. Being able to reduce the amount of time that teachers spend on administrative work is hugely beneficial to their happiness and their experience with us. Educators did not come into this field to do paperwork, they came into this field interested in doing the most important thing, and that is being with the children. We make sure that our educators know they are professionals doing important work, and we honor them with professional tools so they can effectively get their work done” – Bernadette Testani
“Having HiMama has also made it easier for us to set communication parameters with the families and improve work life balance for our educators. We do not let educators access HiMama outside of their working hours and we make it clear to families that communication with educators is during working hours only. We do allow those in senior leadership positions to access HiMama outside the center for emergency purposes, but just by having this professional communication tool we are able to set strong and effective boundaries.” – Jenna Niven
Make learning visible for parents
“When you provide a service such as the care and education of a child, parents do not get something tangible for their investment. In light of growing interest rates, higher mortgage payments and general increases in running a business, there is a lot of price sensitivity around childcare. Unlike when you buy a product, such as a car, you get that car and you see exactly where and what your money was spent on. When parents invest in early education, the outcome of that investment is not felt for years. By allowing parents to see what is going on, it gives them a glimpse into what their investment is providing – and peace of mind knowing their child is not only safe and happy, but being set up to be a lifelong learner. Giving parents meaningful communication through HiMama allows parents to breath easy so they can focus on their own careers”” – Bernadette Testani
“It is a strong tenant of Atelier kids that parents need to be brought into the conversation around the development of their child on a daily basis. In order to do so, we need to make sure that we are making the learning visible. Parents are extremely busy, and morning drop-off is basically not a touchpoint. They might have time to tell us how their child slept or ate, but it is hardly the time for detailed conversations around the child’s growth and development. It is a similar story at pick-up, parents have places to be at the end of the day, and it can often be difficult to have meaningful conversations, especially with a lot of other families around. HiMama takes care of the simple conversations around food, toileting and sleeping and allows educators and families to maximize their time on the most important conversations” – Jenna Niven
Make sure finances are well organized
“Before HiMama we found ourselves having been undercharged or having not collected properly on invoices, and were then in a situation where we had to tell a parent they owed money for payments that had gone unpaid. Those are not fun conversations. Being able to offer bank and credit card processing and having a proper tool to track and organize your payments saves time, paper and makes challenging conversations with parents a lot easier” – Bernadette Testani
“Parents already do everything on their phones, and they are so busy during drop-off and pick-up, those times cannot be used for important and sometimes challenging conversations such as finances. Not only that, but a paper billing system is incredibly inefficient, there is much more important work to be on a daily basis. Lastly, paper systems are disturbingly bad for the environment” – Jenna Niven
Biggest takeaway from Bernadette and Jenna:
You set the tone for how your center is perceived. View yourself as a professional and remind your educators that what they do everyday is important. Your work matters, and your mindset will set the tone for your center.
Aterlier Kids is one of many HiMama customers who have elevated their center quality and improved parent communication with HiMama! Fill out the form below to learn more about how HiMama can help you save time and improve your center quality!