The coronavirus pandemic has threatened to upend the childcare system. And after a few months of closures or online education, some preschools, Montessori centers and other childcare centers are concerned for the future of their business. Many have turned to online education to continue billing tuition and maintaining relationships with parents.
iCare Software recently launched the Virtual Classroom to make it simple, secure and billable to run online learning through our childcare management software. Many childcare centers have used Zoom Meetings to facilitate their online classrooms but have faced struggles since it’s not designed for such activity and has security concerns. Here’s a look at how Virtual Classroom is different from Zoom.
|iCare Virtual Classroom||Zoom Meetings|
|Security||Yes, we’ve focused on keeping your childcare center and its students safe while online.||No, some meetings have been known to be hacked or otherwise compromised.|
|Ease of use||Teacher logs into iCare Software and clicks the Virtual Classroom button.||Another platform to manage, login to each day and keep track of meeting reminders and class times.|
|Parent engagement||Sends a simple text message reminder when a teacher opens the virtual classroom to remind parents to help their child prepare for class.||Complicated to manage meeting invites and timelines amidst working from home and taking care of the household.|
|Tuition billing||Automatically takes attendance and syncs with the accounting function of the software for hassle-free billing.||None, teachers must manually take attendance and then input data into their billing system.|
|Cost||Free, with an iCare Software subscription||Free|
Let’s take a deeper look into each of these major aspects of the new iCare Virtual Classroom.
Mandated childcare closures came about rather quickly in many areas. It gave these centers little time to prepare for online learning. And parents working from home were thrust into a high-stress situation of working from home while educating their children.
Teachers and childcare administrations had to act fast, and many chose online free options because there weren’t many ways to facilitate online learning. As the pandemic wore on, security became a more serious concern for free online meeting programs.
iCare Virtual Classroom is as secure as our childcare software. The system that you trust for housing your student information, billing data and more is now also your online learning platform. We’ve taken what we know about how to keep data secure and applied it to online learning to protect teachers and students alike.
Ease of use
Teachers and parents are experiencing a whole new level of normal in the wake of the pandemic. To make online learning work, many have turned to various online tools that have no interoperability. This means it takes longer for teachers to educate and can be frustrating for parents.
Our Virtual Classroom is a seamless experience for teachers and parents. Once you know iCare Software, using the Virtual Classroom is simple and easy. Teachers just need to press the Virtual Classroom button once they are logged into iCare and they can start their online class. And we’ll handle notifying parents that it’s time to log on.
Notifications to parents
Using a tool like Zoom Meetings means teachers need to send meeting invitations and notices out to parents in advance. Then the teachers have to manage their day in opening those online meetings at the proper time and ensuring that all students are able to connect.
With iCare Virtual Classroom, we handle the parent communication side of things. Childcare centers can keep their normal class schedule of math, reading, arts, etc., and we’ll let parents know when a teacher has started a new lesson. Our system sends a text message to parents with children enrolled in your class to let them know
Automatic billing based on attendance
Childcare centers could spend hours each week ensuring that parents are billed accordingly. And then they’ll have even more time tracking down payments for those activities.
At iCare, we know childcare centers need simple ways of doing everyday activities. That’s why our billing integrates with attendance data so that everything runs in the background automatically. The Virtual Classroom works the same way.
Using information on which children login for a lesson, we automatically take attendance and feed that information into your billing system. Using the iCare Rate Chart Modeler, we’ll then bill that student based on the fees you set up when you created your iCare account.
Just like your in-person learning, the Virtual Classroom can bill at the rates you set based on your agreements with parents. That includes discounts for siblings, special rates, part-time attendance, etc. You have complete control over setting up your rates within iCare Software, which makes it simpler to market your center to a variety of customers.
Cost for the childcare center
The pandemic has stretched finances for many people. We know it isn’t feasible for childcare centers to take on new expenses during this challenging time, and likewise, parents can’t pay additional tuition on top of what they are used to.
That’s why we’ve included the Virtual Classroom in your iCare Software subscription. Our customers have full access to this functionality to make it simple to continue operating even when in-person learning cannot occur.
Perfect for hybrid classes
As things slowly begin to reopen across the nation, many states have put restrictions on how many children can be in a classroom at once. This is putting further strains on childcare centers as they are forced to make ends meet with significantly lower enrollment.
iCare Virtual Classroom allows you to welcome back some of your students for in-person learning while continuing to educate others online. This can help keep childcare centers financially stable as they work through the pandemic.
And, parents with children still unable to attend in-person get the peace of mind that their child is not falling behind developmentally or in their education. Once that child is able to return to the classroom, they’ll know the same things as their peers who have remained in classroom education.
The transition to life at home has been difficult for many children. Our newest development helps ease this transition for children, teachers, parents and administrators. We’re your partner in running an outstanding childcare center.