the elegant child himama case study

How The Elegant Child Took Control of Parent Communications with HiMama

All it took was one Instagram Story to set Meg Saak on a mission to take charge of parent/teacher communications at The Elegant Child Early Learning Center in St. Louis, Missouri, where she has been serving as an administrator for six years.

“I was making an Instagram Story and went back and looked at the video and every teacher had their phone out,” Meg recalls.

In that moment, Meg realized that more control was needed for what was happening with pictures being taken by teachers. With no organized structure for digital documentation, ensuring quality parent/teacher communications was becoming difficult to manage for the 100+ staff members on their campus.

In this article, we’ll take a look at how HiMama helps The Elegant Child improve its communications to develop a stronger relationship between teachers and parents.

Putting the Care in Child Care

The Elegant Child staff on their 25th anniversary.
The Elegant Child staff on their 25th anniversary.

When Chip and Debbie Rowland founded The Elegant Child in 1992, their goal was to create an atmosphere of learning that is second to none.

Since then, the center has expanded into a 3 building campus with 26 classrooms, but has managed to still provide a friendly and family-like environment for its children and their parents. So much so that when enrolling her own child, Meg decided to quit her job as a travel director and become an administrator for the center.

“I had toured a bunch of places and this was the only place that didn’t give me a stomachache,” she explains. “I just fell in love with it and after my tour, I asked my husband if I could quit my job and work here. This place was a gem and I just wanted to be a part of it.”

For the last six years, Meg has worked hard to enhance the high quality of services she was so inspired by during her own experience. From administrative duties to marketing to technology, she has become the one to keep everything running smoothly so the teachers can focus on what they are most passionate about: providing amazing learning and care for the enrolled children.

The Need for a Child Care App

A lot has changed since 1992, including parents’ expectations of early childhood education. Much research has emerged showing the importance of learning during these formative years, and parents have become more involved in their child’s early education.

Now that every parent has a phone full of photos of their child, educators like The Elegant Child understood the demand for regular photo updates for parents. Some photo sharing apps were given a trial, but they lacked structure or control. Parents were being sent photos without context for what the activities meant for their child’s development, and Meg had no easy way to keep track of what was being shared with parents.

“I had to sell it to Debbie [the center’s owner] that we needed tablets in all the rooms and to have an app to do all of this because the picture thing wasn’t going to go away; the parents were going to still want pictures.”

In the search for a suitable photo sharing app that provided quality control features, Meg stumbled across HiMama. In addition to photo sharing, she discovered all of the additional features that photo sharing was just one part of, such as activity planning and daily sheets. It was then that Meg realized that she may have found the right software for her child care center.

Choosing & Implementing HiMama

When Meg and her team were trying out different child care software options, it was important to pick one that allowed the administrators to control the planning and communications, while being easy enough for the teachers to actually use throughout the day.

To make sure they were using the tools correctly, Meg would often find herself messaging or speaking with representatives from the companies her center was evaluating. This was where it became clear for Meg that HiMama was the best software option for The Elegant Child.

“Your staff was way more hands-on and that’s the way we run things here,” Meg explains. “We’re family-run, and you guys seem more like a family, too.”

While it is nice to find similarities with the HiMama team to relate with, the most important thing was for Meg to be confident that her center would be well-supported whenever they needed help. Nearly two years (and many calls and emails) later, Meg is just as happy with her decision as when she signed up.

“When I have a problem, you guys are all hands-on and I’m not talking to a computer recording. You guys don’t make me feel like I’m annoying you and jump right on the problem. You totally validate my concerns and try to fix the problems right away, and you guys haven’t failed us with that.”

The Verdict

One of the biggest challenges for implementing technology at a child care center can be getting the staff who will be using it on-board.

“At first they were a little apprehensive,” Meg recalls, “but when we had the first meeting to talk about it I could see their faces light up.”

Meg thankfully had no problem getting her team on board — even those who have been there since the beginning.”

“One of our lead teachers is in her 70s — she’s been here forever — and she was super excited to get the tablets and she thinks it’s great.”

Most excited of all, however, were the parents.

“They thought it was super cool. There was a sense of relief because they knew that their report was on their phone now. When you’re picking up two kids, you set the paper down and then you’re at home at night and trying to figure out ‘what time did they get a bottle’ or ‘what time did they take a nap today.’ Now the fact that it’s in their hands and they can go back to it — it’s huge.”

After two and a half decades of exceptional child care, providing detailed digital communications for parents has helped The Elegant Child connect with parents in new and more meaningful ways.

To learn more about how HiMama can help your own child care center with its communications, fill out the form below to schedule a free live demo!

Michael Keshen

Michael is the Content Manager at HiMama, with over 7 years of online content publishing experience. He is the current editor in chief for HiMama's early childhood education blog and ECE Weekly newsletter. He also produces HiMama's weekly Preschool Podcast and the annual Child Care Benchmark Report. When not developing content for early childhood professionals, he can usually be found out and about with his wife and daughter exploring all that Toronto has to offer, or playing music with his karaoke band.

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