A day using pen and paper and why you need to switch to digital communication blog header

A day using pen and paper and why you need to switch to digital communication

In a recent webinar, we welcomed two amazing childcare directors, Dorie Heffron and Amanda Shroyer! Dorie and Amanda joined us for a panel discussion on why they decided to make the change from pen and paper communication to digital communication at their center. In an engaging conversation, we learned tips and strategies for successfully transitioning to digital communication, supporting any tech hesitant staff, and improving the quality of parent communication! 

To listen to the webinar that inspired this blog post, click here


As a childcare center director, deciding to change to a digital communication system is a big move. It heavily impacts all of your center staff and parents. However, if you are properly prepared for this change, you can mitigate risks and ensure the transition is a positive experience for all involved. 

As Dorie and Amanda can affirm, moving away from pen and paper is one of the best decisions you can make! Hours upon hours of saved admin time and enhanced parent satisfaction are in your future! 

Trigger to switch to digital communication 

For some centers, there is a trigger moment that leads them to make the switch to digital communication. For others, it is small hurdles adding up over time. 

For Dorie, her center was using a program that only recorded sleeping, eating, and diaper changes. There was no parent communication or sending of pictures. When they became acquired they were delighted to change this by implementing HiMama! Especially during COVID when parents were not allowed into the center this was a game-changer. She does not know what they would have done if they did not have this tool for teachers to communicate. 

For Amanda, her center had exclusively paper report cards. Staff had to make two for infants, one to go home and one to keep on file. The administrator heard about HiMama and presented it to the teachers. Amanda jumped on the ability to do digital report cards without hesitation. They have not looked back since and enjoyed so many additional benefits. 

A day in the life of pen and paper 

Prior to switching to a digital communication tool, Dorie noted that pen and paper were used for parent notices, documentation of learning outcomes, etc. This pen and paper method is very slow to get to parents. Messages only get to them at the end of the day. 

Dorie also remembers that parents at pickup time are very busy. They are thinking about dinner or getting their other child from school in time, so when educators are talking to them, messages often go right over their heads. Then, two days later they would come back saying “I think you gave me a piece of paper the other day and I lost it” and they would have to figure out which update they are referring to. 

Communication was not the smoothest that is for sure.” 

Dorie

In Amanda’s pen and paper experience, parents would text teachers asking questions about their child’s day because the paper report cards were not always making their way to them. This was invasive to the educator’s work/life balance. 

Introducing new technology to staff 

When introducing new technology at your childcare center, you have to first get your staff to buy into the idea.

For Dorie, she introduced it as a team and gave each educator a physical overview package right away that they could refer back to. 

In Amanda’s case, she noticed that older staff were a little hesitant. They were worried about messing it up. With pen and paper you can use white-out, but how do you fix your mistake digitally? However, they were still listening and willing to work through the transition. She had separate conversations with each classroom so that the educators could share their feelings openly. Then they came together as a center to focus on how this change will be better for staff and parents alike. They decided to commit for one year and if they still did not like it then, they could switch back. Spoiler alert: they never looked back! 

Key strategies to use: 

  • Lots of staff meetings
  • Use a dummy account to practice 
  • Put the work in as a team 
  • The more you as the director invest in something new, the more excited your educators get 
  • Lean on each other, ask each other questions and share key learnings 

Open communication with educators is the most important step in this process. Communicate why the transition is happening and create a safe space to hear their concerns.

Managing hesitant staff members 

Whenever a big change is introduced, you are bound to be met with hesitancy from some staff members, especially those that are less tech-savvy. 

Dorie remembers that during their first staff meeting they watched the video HiMama supplied and let everyone know that they would do a soft launch first. Educators do not have to learn everything on day one and should not be afraid of making mistakes. 

I tried it first and said if I can do it, they can definitely all do it,  as technology is not really my thing.”

Dorie

Key strategies to use: 

  • Start slow, feature by feature 
  • Validating any concerns, explaining the why, and taking it step by step 
  • Embrace the quick learners and empower them to help in other classrooms with tips and tricks 
  • Try having a staff member shadow you first and then you can shadow them to ensure they are getting the hang of it 
  • Target support based on staff needs 
  • Leverage your HiMama onboarding specialist! They are here to help. 

Dorie and Amanda found that most staff members were able to get the hang of it after two weeks. Then, they were fully integrated into digital communication within one month. Oftentimes, the staff that were the most resistant tended to hide behind their room partner and let them do the reports. It is important to keep an eye out to ensure that everyone has the ability to use the program. Once educators realize how much time they are saving, they will realize there is no going back! 

Positive impacts of digital communication on parent satisfaction 

Parent engagement immediately goes up when you implement increased communication methods. Parents love the visibility into what is going on in their child’s day in real-time. They can check in whenever is convenient for them and send a message directly to their child’s educator. Parents get very excited to not have to wait until the end of the day to get an update! 

It really made a partnership between us and our parents. Communication was able to go both ways.”

Dorie

As well, educators love to hear the parents’ appreciation for the work they put in to send updates regularly. Parents end up learning new things about their child’s development that they did not know before, such as tools being used that they can replicate at home.

It helps the parents see us as educators. They can see how what we were doing connects to learning outcomes. It shows our attention to what is happening and shows our expertise and that we care.”

Amanda

To listen to the webinar that inspired this blog post, click here

Want to learn more about important topics in early education such as hiring and retaining educators? Sign up for the next webinar below, it is FREE! Even if you can’t join live, you will be emailed the recording and slides just for registering!

Christie White

Christie is a Senior Content Marketing Specialist at HiMama. She is passionate about children's development, parenting, and supporting the child care industry. She has been working to support child care centers with their events and marketing for almost a decade. In her personal life, Christie lives in Stouffville, ON with her husband Kyle and dog Tucker. She enjoys going for walks, baking, cooking, and watching reality tv!

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