iConnect and ParentZone aim to streamline the administration process for nurseries and promote partnership with parents.
Connect Childcare says its software and app can change the way nurseries operate for the better, making them more efficient and helping them to build outstanding relationships with parents who entrust their children to them.
Using the app, parents can book extra childcare sessions, check bills or settle invoices from their phone, tablet or computer, reducing the amount of time nursery staff spend
chasing outstanding payments.
They can also use it to learn about their child’s day. ParentZone features a Facebook-style interactive timeline where they can view descriptions, learning journeys, photos and videos of their children posted by nursery staff. This gives parents the opportunity to get more involved with their children’s learning and development.
The app is linked to an online digital printing service, allowing parents to create photo books, mugs or calendars of their child’s time at nursery. This provides an additional revenue stream for nurseries that receive a percentage of the sales.
ParentZone and iConnect also claim to help nurseries to fulfil the Government’s Parents as Partners initiative and provide evidence to show during an Ofsted inspection.
According to Connect Childcare, ParentZone, which launched in March 2015, has proved to be particularly popular. Currently, more than 15,000 parents are using the app, with the number increasing each month. Snapdragons Nurseries, a group of eight settings, credits the app for getting more parents engaged with their child’s day at nursery.
Director James Collard says they have noticed a dramatic increase in the amount of parent involvement in their child’s nursery life as a result of the app, which enables them to contribute to their child’s learning journeys easier and faster than ever before.
‘Our staff are also saving massive amounts of time, due to not having to download
photos to the computer, print, cut, stick and write up information, sometimes for multiple children,’ he says. ‘This alone means that they are more productive with their time, which benefits the children.’
Amy Greenall from Little Blossoms Nursery in Barrowford, Lancashire, which has also adopted Connect Childcare’s software, says that ParentZone is helping dads in particular get more involved in their children’s development as it is easy for them to access the app on their phones or tablets and on the go.
Another advantage of iConnect, she says, is the amount it saves in time and money. The nursery estimates it is saving up to £85 a month on printing costs.
Toy Box Talks by Noel Quinn
Open to early years resources and equipment that help practitioners to improve their practice and provision