Brightwheel vs Himama: What’s the right software for your childcare center?
Technology can revolutionize the way you run your business. It can streamline processes, increase productivity, and bring an increment in your revenue overall. It might seem daunting, as it would mean transitioning from the traditional processes to a more digital and modern one. But the world is adapting to technology more than ever now and in order to be more relevant and competitive businesses need to do the same.
Running a daycare is a massive task – you need to ensure all your staff is doing their designated tasks right, the children are being taken good care of, while also keeping a track of your cash flow, and managing parent communication.
With childcare management software by your side, all the mentioned tasks become highly simplified and less time and labor-consuming. Some of the best preschool software can automate most of your tasks, make operations easier, and eventually help you grow your business even when the competition around you is tough.
Now, the question arises – how do you choose the right daycare app for your center?
One of the most asked questions on the internet by preschool and daycare owners is – Brightwheel vs Himama vs Procare, who do we pick? But is that all that is to it? Or there are more factors one should take into consideration and ensure they don’t just follow the herd, and actually do what is truly right for their business.
In this blog, we will dive deeper into these two apps, while talking about how Illumine can offer much more and be your partner in success?
Brightwheel offers solutions for preschools, childcare and daycare centers, camps, and after-school programs. It has features such as online check-in/check-outs, daily reports, messaging, online billing, assessments, and calendar. Although with a good user base, Brightwheel does fall short on several fronts when compared to Illumine. Let’s take a look at them.
Checking in and checking out students and staff in Brightwheel is not as simple. In order to mark attendance, you need to go to a particular classroom and then select the students/staff you need to mark present/absent. On the other hand, Illumine has a separate attendance section on the home tab on the app, as well as on the web platform, from where you can directly log the attendance for both staff and students.
Brightwheel’s activities section is not very elaborate and user-friendly. You will find the option to post activities on the home tab of Illumine’s app – it’s easy to use and gives you the option to enable/disable activities according to your choice.
Media support in chat:
Brightwheel does not support media on the chat. For instance, if you are sending a message to a parent, you cannot send pictures along with it to offer better insights to parents. Whereas, Illumine lets you send images through the in-app messaging feature, making sure you are keeping the parents well-connected with what’s happening at their kid’s school.
Brightwheel does not provide an option to set up virtual classes. However, with Illumine you can schedule classes at a click of a button. The best part? You don’t need any external software to do it – just configure your zoom account to your Illumine handle and you’ll be good to go.
Although Brightwheel has an events section, it does not have one for creating holidays. In Illumine, you can create both single and multiple holidays easily. To upload a list of multiple holidays, you just need to upload an excel sheet with all the details filled correctly, once uploaded, your holidays will automatically be created.
Brightwheel does not offer any service for leave management. Illumine lets you manage and track both student and staff leaves. Parents and teachers can apply for leaves using the Illumine platform/app, and the administrator can approve them using the platform/app as well.
Ease of use:
Illumine’s homepage has a dashboard that lets you access any significant information directly at the home page of the app – from live classroom ratio to billing stats, to leaves, concerns, and follow-up reminders. However, accessing any information on Brightwheel would mean switching tabs and looking for a different set of information every time you need to gather any data about the functioning of your school.
Language translation support:
Brightwheel only supports one language: English. There is no support provided for language translation if the need arises. Illumine’s support team has got your back though. Whatever language preference it might be, our team will work rigorously to get the job done for you all within a matter of a few days.
Now, let us see what brightwheel users had to say about the app.
“I love this Software because it’s a very big help when it comes to organizing your children’s daily, needed routine. This will help you organize things to do and manage your daily time scheduling.”
“I have experienced from a user standpoint – it is visually friendly, easy to navigate the app, and has all the functions a parent wants.”
“I also liked that there are early learning guidelines for our state on observations, that’s one of the most awesome things I’ve seen in an application like this.”
“Unfortunately, there are some issues with the Payments section. The link “Print Invoice” does not work for me, so a daycare had to send me the invoice via email.”
“The reporting from a financial side is not very clear if you are coming from another system with a lot of information in reports. Inputting immunizations could be a little quicker like putting a date and selecting the immunizations that were given on the date would be great.”
“I dislike that you cannot transfer a student without checking them out and then back in. I wish that the notification sent to parents was a “transfer” rather than out/in. It would save concern and confusion. Another issue is when staff member works at multiple locations, they are unable to clock themselves in or out with the timeclock.”
HiMama provides services for early educational programs, home-based daycares, Montessori, Reggio-inspired, NAEYC-accredited child care providers. It offers reporting and management support for childcare center owners, teachers, and parents. Himama allows users to document and share updates, manage attendances, plan lessons, and communicate with parents.
Himama does not provide an option for lead management. Illumine, on the other hand, helps you list and track your leads with its lead CRM feature. You can schedule follow-up reminders for every lead at every stage, and even onboard students directly from the lead list upon conversion.
Himama does not have an option to create and share weekly lesson plans with parents. Creating individual lessons for each day could be time-consuming and would mean your staff is being engaged in redundant tasks. Illumine’s weekly lesson plan feature, however, makes it easier for both teachers to share lesson plans of multiple days at once, and parents to stay updated with their child’s learning journey.
It does not cover features like CCTV live streaming, which Illumine does. Parents, if given access can the classroom feed directly and see their children being engaged in activities through Illumine.
Himama like brightwheel, does not allow requesting and approving leaves for both students and staff. This feature makes the attendance process much easier at school, given that the child/staff on leave is automatically exempted from the check-in list.
Himama allows activities to be posted by classroom, however, with Illumine you can post activities by filtering students by groups or programs as well. This reduces the task of listing different groups and clubs separately as classes for you. Illumine helps you manage after-school programs easily.
Illumine’s dashboard lets you into much other crucial information you would want to stay up to date with when compared to Himama. For example, any leads you to need to follow up on, any upcoming holiday or event, and the number of students and staff on leave. One look at Illumine’s dashboard and you will have access to every data you need to manage and run your center well every single day.
Kiosk mode and QR scanner
Illumine has an option of checking in or checking out students and staff by scanning the QR code with the Illumine app or by entering the kiosk code (a unique code assigned to every student and staff in the school). Parents can check-in the student themselves at a tap of a button with this feature, making the whole process much more seamless and fast.
Several Himama users have highlighted their experiences wherein they faced technical difficulties with the app. It could either be in terms of failing to download pictures on multiple occasions, getting a notification about an update very late, or receiving faulty emails. On the other hand, Illumine goes through thorough tests on a frequent basis to ensure there are no bugs in the system for all the given platforms – web, android, and iOS. Illumine’s backend team is there at your dispatch at any time of the day, in case you do face any technical issues.
Here’s a snapshot of the experience of Himama users.
“Love the updates throughout the day. Love the reports and the ability for photos and videos to come through.”
“The price is great and affordable. Helps us manage ratios and have better control of our staffing.”
“I love that my daughter’s child care center uses HiMama. It makes me feel like I am part of her day there. We get pictures and updates throughout the day. I also love that I can track our tuition payments on the app. Makes it easy to check how much we’ve paid, especially during tax season!”
“It is a little tedious to scroll through just for pictures/videos of kids. Also, the app seems to take a while to load and to load more past posts when you click “more” at the bottom. Signing kids in and out also takes a lot of clicking. I have three kids and it would be easier if I could sign for all of them on one screen.”
“When uploading activities/lesson plans, it would be helpful for the teachers to have the ability to save a week’s plans. This would allow teachers to copy and paste frequently used activities, which would, in turn, save them time when inputting plans. I also am not fond of certain adjectives used to describe the “mood” of a child, when, without context, can be misunderstood by a parent. I have instructed my teachers to only use positive descriptors and to save other adjectives for in-person communication.”
“All the behind-the-scenes billing is awful. Nothing makes sense for bookkeeping purposes.”
Procare helps you manage several aspects of your child care center. It offers solutions for parent communication, digital attendance, online billing, and staff management amongst other things. Although it has a good user base, it has several issues and shortcomings that don’t let it make the mark.
Procare has no option to send images on the in-app messaging chat as well. This means your messages cannot be supported by enriching media that could give parents a better glimpse into their child’s learning journey. The messaging system has been considered problematic by many users. It does not show a string of messages between the parents and staff, so it becomes hard to tell if the parents were replied to or not. It is difficult to navigate through the messages, and tracking them becomes difficult with Procare.
Procare’s customer service is something people have complained about as well. It can be hard to get in touch and resolve your issues, and one cannot afford that when they are running a school with little kids and have parents to answer to on a frequent basis. Thus, staying on top of things becomes crucial and any technical glitches can prove to be a barrier for you.
Its check-in/ check-out feature is not as smooth and reliable. Many Procare customers still resort to marking attendance the traditional way with pen and paper even after deploying the app at their school.
Ease of use
Its interface is also considered to be outdated and not as user-friendly. Even the features are not as automated and digital as compared to Illumine. You cannot directly capture photos to feed into forms, they always have to be updated, the preprogrammed emails don’t have integrated signatures and always need to be added manually.
Take a look at what Procare users have to say about the experience.
“The meal tracking and tuition express are two of my favorite things about Procare. I love that training is offered and the tech support is amazing.”
“This product has been amazing and customer service/support has been reliable and helpful as I learned the system. The tutorials are fabulous and I would highly recommend the software.”
“The best thing about Procare is that it is user-friendly. A support website is a great tool.”
“I should be able to create a licensing-compliant registration form for parents, which includes emergency contacts, allergies, medical insurance numbers, etc. Staff timecards are poorly designed.”
“The messaging system is really my biggest complaint. It is not easy to navigate or stay on top of easily. I like that everyone in the info circle gets the messages, but it’s difficult to answer a lot of parents when you have to leave incoming to check sent for each message and check dates to make sure you are not seeing an older response. If the messages were more like a feed or email run so that you could see sent and responses together for each child.”
“Our check-in computers are constantly locking up since the last update in November 2019. After using the same computers and hardware for 5.5 months they ran an update and now problems. We manually key in employees and students often which is time-consuming because the computers are locked up at the time parents are picking up or dropping off. Tech support is non responsive to emails and holds times are on average of 35-45 minutes when calling tech support. They said today it is because they are “swamped”. That speaks volumes, which means their product isn’t working.”
What does Illumine have to offer?
Illumine is new-age software for preschool management designed keeping in mind all the challenges faced by those involved in the process of providing childcare. Since it arrived later in the industry, it had the time to encapsulate all the problems people faced while using their competitors, and by doing so, built a tool that consolidates everything a director can ask for.
What’s unique about Illumine?
Lead CRM feature:
Illumine allows administrators to track their leads, set up follow-up reminders, and lets them, onboard details of a student’s parents directly from the lead list.
We have a dedicated team at your dispatch 24*7. You can reach out to the team to get any of your issues resolved in no time, no matter which time zone you are in.
From student and staff reports, assessment reports, to attendance and billing reports, Illumine helps you generate them all with just a few clicks. What’s better is that these reports are more detailed and insightful than what you would get with any other software.
Virtual classroom: Illumine’s virtual classroom feature allows teachers to conduct lessons that are meaningful and impactful even from a distance. With a virtual whiteboard and support to documents of all formats, teachers have the freedom to make their class as interactive as they like.
The platform makes tracking and managing cashflows highly simple for you. You can send automated payment reminders and receipts to parents, record payments on the portal, and create customized fee templates.
What type of organizations does Illumine cater to?
Illumine works with big, mid-size, and small businesses, enterprises of every size, Freelance, Nonprofit, and Government organizations.
What languages does Illumine support?
Illumine offers multi-lingual support to its users.
Do they offer a free trial?
Yes, Illumine also has an option for a free demo.
What platforms does Illumine support?
Illumine is compatible with iPad, Android, and iPhone devices.
Here’s a comparison between all the platforms in a snapshot