Core Features Set Up Guide

Easy-to-follow set-up guide sharing how you can become a brightwheel daily user in just a few weeks

Sabrina avatar
Written by Sabrina
Updated over a week ago

Welcome to brightwheel! 🎉

Most admins are able to learn how to use brightwheel daily in just a few weeks, and in this guide, we'll show you how in 3 easy steps:

Table of Contents

💡The time estimates listed below are how much admins typically spend on each step. You can do multiple steps in one sitting or spread them out over a week or two!

This same information is now available in a structured learning path in brightwheel Academy! 🎉

Register and enroll in the applicable learning path for your program's needs to ensure a smooth and successful setup experience. Learn more in our Brightwheel Academy Overview resource.

Before we get started, review some best practices other admins recommend while learning brightwheel:

  • Some admins say it helps to set aside an hour or two for the first few weeks. This way, you'll have time to learn the basics or talk to your trainer!

  • Admins who learn the fastest tend to focus on adding their rosters early so they can learn more features as soon as possible.
    💡Too busy to get started on your roster? Take 2 minutes to invite a staff member and see if they can help!

  • If you see blue, underlined text in this set-up guide, you can click on it to visit a related Help Center article. The Help Center is full of useful information, but while getting set up, we recommend sticking to the ones we link to here.

brightwheel is there with you along the way!

See below to learn more about who will be helping you get set up on brightwheel:

Step 1: Get Set Up on the Essentials

PART 1 OF 4:
Log into your account and download the app

  1. Login via your computer at

    1. Your username is your email address

    2. Your password is whatever you set it to be - you can reset it if needed

  2. Download and log in via the brightwheel app on a phone and/or tablet

PART 2 OF 4:
Add Your Students and Parents

This is the most important step to get set up on brightwheel. Once you do this, you can start using the features that will help you daily!

Choose from one of the 3 options below to submit your roster to our team. We'll take it from there! Go to the "Students" tab on the left-hand side of your screen to get started.

  1. Have a roster on your computer already? You can submit via our Roster Upload Tool.

  2. Have a roster in another system? Visit this article on how to export rosters to brightwheel easily. You can also watch this video where we show you how!

  3. Don't have a roster on your computer yet? Don't worry! Easily create one with our brightwheel roster template (use our ready-to-go Excel template or make a copy of our Google Sheets template).

We suggest adding, at a minimum, the student's first and last name, their room assignment, their parent's first and last name, and either the parent's mobile number or their email address (this way, you won’t have to add that manually later).

💡Have a smaller school? If you want to add your roster manually in brightwheel, you can do that too! Just click on the "+ New Students" button in your "Students" tab - we show you how to do the rest here!

You'll receive an email within 2 business days once your roster has been uploaded. While we are uploading your roster, you can...

PART 3 OF 4:
Invite Your Families

Once your roster has been uploaded, it's time to invite your families!

First, choose from 3 ways you can (bulk or individually) invite families: On the web, go to My School > ‘Parent Tab’ > 'Signed Up' column - hit ‘Invite All’. This will send families an invitation to create a brightwheel account.

If you haven't sent your welcome message to families yet, this is a great time to do so! You can find an example draft here.

Wondering what the families will see during the invite process? Watch this video!

PART 4 OF 4:
Add, Invite, and Train Your Staff

  1. Add staff via the web or the app (see how in the video below).

    • If your staff will use personal devices, include their email address in addition to their first and last name

    • If your staff will use a shared program device, add them with first and last names only

  2. Invite your staff via the web or app

  3. If you haven't sent your staff a welcome message or the training video, you can find draft examples at this link.

  4. Have each member of your staff log a photo on the app

TIP: Have teachers practice logging activities with demo students first. This way, they can get familiar with the app without using real student profiles. Jump to Logging Activities below to learn more!

FAQs about recommended devices, 2FA, and adding a roster manually

I'm looking to get a new device for my program. Which one should I get?

Why do I need 2-factor authentication (2FA)?

brightwheel prides itself on taking the safety and security of your students and families seriously! For more information about our industry-first 2-factor authentification features, visit this article on the help center.

I'd prefer to add my students and families manually rather than via the roster upload. Can I do that?


Step 2: Get Paid with brightwheel Billing

Remember: 90% of preschools report more families pay on time with brightwheel! Review our quick tips on how to start using Billing today:

  1. Some admins say that these steps, especially Part 2, can take around an hour, so budget some time to get this done. But don’t worry - these same admins say brightwheel's invoicing and reporting saves them hours each month, not to mention the time saved around tax season!

  2. Have someone else at your center who manages Billing and Payments? See if they can help!

Please Note: If you're a Canadian school, brightwheel Billing is not yet available in your area. Just skip ahead to Step 3: Get Up and Running!

PART 1 OF 3:
Edit Your Billing Settings

  1. Turn online payments on

  2. Check your autopay settings (we recommend keeping this on)

  3. Learn more about late fees

You can reach your Billing Settings by clicking on Billing on the left-hand side of your screen. Then click on Settings. From there, scroll down to "Payment Options" and "Processing Fees".

PART 2 OF 3:
Set Up Your Billing Plans

Time to set up your Billing Plans so you can save hours each month with automatic, accurate invoices!

  1. From your "Billing Dashboard", click Select an Action

  2. Next, click Set up Billing Plan

  3. Now choose your student(s), select the Billing schedule (e.g., how often and when you want to send invoices), and add charges (also sometimes called rates or tuition).

💡We recommend spending some time gathering your charges or rates. Once those are in, you can add discounts, split charges between payers, and set up copays! Learn more in this help center article.

PART 3 OF 3:
Invite and Remind Families to Pay With brightwheel



Now that you have your billing plans set up, you can invite families to make it quick, easy, and secure for them to pay online!

  1. Go to Parents on the left-hand side of the screen

  2. Then you'll have the option to invite payers to either:

    1. brightwheel, if they still haven't signed up

    2. Bill Pay to invite them to pay with brightwheel

    3. Autopay to make it easier for them to always pay on time!

  3. Click Invite All to invite payers in bulk. To invite individually, just find a payer in the list and click Invite by their name.

Parents will get an email or text inviting them to pay with brightwheel!

Sometimes families need to be reminded to sign up for Billing and Autopay. Just repeat the "Invite" steps to send reminder emails. We recommend sending a reminder 2-3 days after first inviting parents.

Visit this page to learn more about reminding your parents to sign up for brightwheel Billing or add a payment method.

💡[Optional] We've also curated a Billing Overview for Parents & Payers PDF you can share with your families anytime to get them excited about using brightwheel Billing! If parents still have questions, you can share our help center's Resources and FAQs for Parents to answer common Billing-related questions!

Congrats on getting set up! Want more resources on Billing?

  1. Still haven't added a deposit account? You can add one easily and securely and get it verified by following the steps here.

  2. Want a refresh? You can visit this page to watch our Financial Management webinar and get a list of the most useful Help Center articles!

  3. Prefer something shorter to guide you through set-up? Check out this printable checklist to keep track of your progress!

  4. brightwheel Billing has lots more features and reports that can save you time each day, month, or year (like during tax season!). Check out this collection of help center articles to learn more.

Step 3: Get Up and Running on the features that will save you time each day

PART 1 OF 3:

brightwheel has lots of options to keep you connected with your staff and families. Below we've included videos for the two most popular forms of messaging. To see how teachers and parents can easily message each other or other messaging tips, visit this page in the help center.

TIP: Want to practice? If you haven't sent a welcome message yet, this is a great way to learn the tool and is a staff and parent favorite!

Easily message one parent individually, an entire room, or even the full school!

Easily message staff individually or all together.

PART 2 OF 3:
Logging Activities

Parents say that seeing their child's activities is what they love most about centers that use brightwheel! You can send photos or videos to parents, log activities like "Nap" and "Potty", or even track meals with "Food".

To log an activity, just:

  1. Select a Room

  2. Click the Add Activity wheel

  3. Select an Activity

  4. Tag individual, some, or all of the children

  5. Log the activity

You can easily edit or delete activities once you've logged them. Learn how to do that (and more) here!

PART 3 OF 3:

Brightwheel provides a secure and configurable check-in experience that staff and parents will love!

If you're using brightwheel premium, you can explore options like:

  1. Letting parents sign in with either 4-digit codes or digital signatures

  2. Enabling touchless check-in via our QuickScan QR codes

  3. Viewing reports to track drop-off and attendance

Our Check-In tool is versatile so that can meet your center's needs.

To view more information about all of the options you have, visit this page!

Congrats - you did it! 🎉

Still, have questions or want to know what's next? Review the Q&As below.

I had trouble with one of the above steps and want help

No problem. Try getting in touch with your brightwheel trainer to see how they can help, or visit the help center!

I'm all set up, but am worried I may have questions later.

Of course! Admins love brightwheel's customer support team, including our live chat options.

Additional Resources

Now that you've got the hang of it, if you still want to learn more with brightwheel, we included tips on a few other features that help admins, staff, and parents across the country every day.

📝 Documents - Share important information like handbooks, menus, or event flyers with parents and/or staff!

👥 Staff Check-in - Let staff easily clock in and out and seamlessly manage room ratios!

📊 Reporting - brightwheel saves you time and paperwork with our reporting capabilities! Check out reports for menu planning, billing and taxes, learning and assessments, and more!

Quick Links to our most Popular Videos + Help Articles

Setting Up Tablets







Customer Spotlight Videos

Need additional help? Reach out to our Support team, and we can guide you as needed!

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