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Smart technology makes its mark in preschools
HOUSE of Kids, a preschool situated in a quiet and peaceful area of Yio Chu Kang, was founded in 1999 with the aim of providing a holistic programme to help each child grow physically, intellectually, emotionally and socially.
The preschool believes it is important that every child experiences the joy of learning, the companionship of friends and the benefits of a loving and safe environment.
House of Kids currently has 80 children ranging from infants to those at K2 level and it recently acquired a second centre that has another 80 students.
To help it better manage its processes and focus on teaching, the school has turned to technology, which provides it with the ability to manage its daily tasks more efficiently as well as allows parents to be connected and receive live updates of their child's activities through real- time information.
House of Kids, which has been in operation for 16 years, discovered the benefits of using the approved SaaS, or software as a service, preschool solution during the Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore (IDA)'s Call for Collaboration with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Social and Family Development. This was before the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) was formed.
To-date, the preschool has used the LittleLives preschool management system for almost three years.
One of the issues faced by House of Kids was that communicating with parents weekly or even on a daily basis was the level of service that parents expected from preschools. This, however, can be quite tedious for teachers as they have a limited time allocated during the children's nap- time to manage all their administrative tasks.
Enter the LittleLives, Little Family Room, a tool developed by LittleLives. This solution allows preschools to take attendance and the children's temperature and input all that information into the system without the hassle of having to deal with multiple files and paperwork.
Through the LittleLives system, preschools are able to receive instant notification on attendance and other data relating to the children.
This real-time information enables teachers to effortlessly manage their routine work while allowing parents to find out more about their child's learning activities, notes the founder of LittleLives, Sun Ho.
The Singapore-based preschool provider was founded in 2007. The LittleLives Preschool Management System has been deployed and used by 558 preschools in Singapore. Some of these include Brighton, Kiddiwinkie, Pibos, Little Footprints and Odyssey.
LittleLives has reached 83,000 children, 11,000 parents and 5,500 teachers islandwide, helping to bring preschools into the 21st century.
LittleLives SaaS is supported under IDA's iSPRINT Programme which assists small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the adoption of technology for productivity and growth.
"LittleLives Preschool Management System has allowed preschools in Singapore to use technology for their advantage. Teachers at preschools have an important role in the development of a toddler and LittleLives allows teachers to focus on what they do best - teach," she says.
In addition to administrative reports, the system allows House of Kids to provide parents with a range of updates, including the daily check- in and check-out photos of their children and a portfolio management folder where parents can find out what their child has learnt via videos and photos.
Specifically, the Check In/Out Application enables parents to see if their child is safe in school and when their child leaves the centre. This gives parents a sense of security as they can make sure that their helpers have picked up their child from school.
Parents can also log in to the Parent's Portal at any time and from anywhere to keep track of their child's learning progress in school, says Josephine Cheong, principal of House of Kids.
The system also allows the school to update parents on upcoming events via the event calendar.
"Working with LittleLives has been a joy and allowed me to better manage my centre more efficiently and the various LittleLives reports are very useful during our ECDA centre licensing audits. This ensures we are in line with the preschool standards of Singapore," says Ms Cheong.
LittleLives was chosen by House of Kids mainly because it was approved by government bodies such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Social and Family Development and IDA. Ms Cheong also notes that during the past two years of service, the team from LittleLives has provided great customer support and an easy-to-use system.
Indeed, this incorporation of technology has enabled House of Kids to improve its overall productivity and alleviate its pain points.
Parents also enjoy receiving timely updates from teachers while teachers spend less time doing administrative tasks and can focus more on guiding the children.
Not that it was all smooth sailing. Cost was an initial issue for House of Kids, as profit margins in preschools can be low.
Implementing technology, however, has not only helped House of Kids save time on administrative tasks but also enables the preschool to be environmentally sustainable by saving on printing and paper wastage.
It recently re-contracted with LittleLives, citing the fact that the SaaS system has enabled teachers to focus on what's truly important, that is, teaching.
"We have since re-contracted with LittleLives and we hope that the government can offer more such grants to help preschools like House of Kids enjoy the benefits of technology. With increasing operating expenses in terms of manpower and rental costs, every grant from the government does make a difference and helps SMEs like us grow," says Ms Cheong.
House of Kids exemplifies how technology can lead to productivity for SMEs. Government programmes such as IDA's Enhanced iSPRINT have made it possible for SMEs to incorporate technology and improve their overall workflow processes.
Large chains and anchor operators enjoy economies of scale but single centres like House of Kids have to ensure that their cash flow is always in the green. Hence, these government subsidies make it easier for SMEs to adopt technology.
This article was contributed by IDA