Child Care During the Pandemic: Making the Early Years Count
While the COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause disruption across the country, families can be assured that for even the youngest of children, early childhood education and care continues to provide certainty, safety, and security. While you are doing your best to protect the health and wellbeing of your family, maintain your employment, and manage daily life as best you can, you can have the peace of mind that your young child is not missing out on critical learning and development.
Care supports a child’s social and emotional development
Routine, familiarity, consistency, these are foundations of the care environment that support young children to feel safe and secure. When they feel safe and secure, they will build relationships and form valuable friendships, engage in new activities, regulate their behaviour, and learn and practice the social and emotional skills that build resilience.
Disruption has the opposite effect. If the weeks and months of COVID-19 restrictions felt like a lifetime for us as adults, imagine what it was like for children. A short time away from that environment can seem like an eternity. Children are not born with the social and emotional skills needed to recover from difficult experiences. These skills need to be taught, learned, and practiced in the safety and security of supportive relationships. Children will feel a sense of belonging, laying the foundation for other types of learning, because when a child feels they belong, they feel they can be brave and curious in their learning. They can be themselves.
Being with Babies
Understandably, some families may feel it’s better for a baby to be at home during uncertain times. Yet, care supports the rapid brain development that takes place in their first years. For example, did you know that by the age of one, children have learned all the sounds that make up their native language? When a baby hears people talking, singing, and telling stories, they’re soaking up the words and sounds that make language, and support literacy. Our Nursery Team take every opportunity to laugh, sing and talk with children.
Those little movements and facial expressions are a baby’s way of communicating. Even the seemingly small moments in a baby’s day are significant milestones in their learning journey. Close personal relationships with our Educators and Teachers creates a safe and supportive space for those early learning moments to be identified and fostered, supporting your baby’s growth.
One moment they’re babies and the next they’re walking, making their first sounds, and exploring everything around them. The care environment fosters a toddler’s curiosity and supports them to bravely explore and develop their personalities. While they may be comfortable at home, it’s being with other children and adults, who support their learning, that they learn about themselves, about being part of a community, how to communicate, and developing the motor skills that support foundational literacy.
During this critical period of development, skilled Educators and Teachers can design experiences that support the transition to being more independent and developing a sense of self. Being able to do things “all by myself” might be a challenge for parents who are trying to get from A to B as quickly as possible, but this is a chance for Toddlers to gain a great source of pride and a strong sense of self from their independent actions.
Laying the foundation for success in school and life
Throughout the early years of a child’s life, social and emotional development go hand-in-hand with the development of their problem-solving ability, literacy, and numeracy skills. Put together, these core skills are the foundation for a successful transition to school and developing a life-long love of learning. An environment that nurtures and supports those skills from a young age lays the foundation for a child’s future health and happiness and to reach their full potential.
Think about this: a child’s vocabulary almost triples between the ages of three and five. There is no better place to support this development but in a care environment where children are interacting with each other and engaging in learning experiences that spark their curiosity. Our early childhood education professionals develop experiences and programs that support children to thrive. As they play, learning experiences re-create real-world scenarios, like pretending to visit the shops, that support real learning outcomes. Exploring, learning, and engaging with the world around them with confidence is the best preparation for formal schooling.
Care is dedicated to protecting the safety and wellbeing of children
Children have a right to an education and they benefit most in a face-to-face learning environment. That means child care education centres should remain open wherever possible to support children and provide educational opportunities. All Guardian Centres practice and promote evidence-based COVID Safe behaviours at all times, irrespective of the level of COVID-19 community transmission. The burden of stress and anxiety for families is reduced when they have certainty and confidence that places of education are doing all they can to minismise interruptions and keep children, families, and Teams safe. We are committed to doing everything possible to support ongoing education during the pandemic.