Alana Henry, Creators Educational Trust – COVID-19 response
Alana Henry, Creators Educational Trust
Hamilton, New Zealand
All children need to feel loved and valued. Here at Creators, we are passionate about identifying each child’s unique talents, we seek likeminded Educators, those who share our values for every child to reach their full potential.
Creators is a not-for-profit organisation, guided by a supportive and mindful management team. Creators at Home is a national, New Zealand based service. We pride ourselves on giving back to our Educators and children who engage with our service. Our Educators really are the magic, the kind of people who let their passion for children show. Our Educators are supported by registered early childhood teachers who provide monthly visits, weekly playgroups, and facilitate our people to strive for excellence, meeting quality teaching indicators and the homebased regulations. Learning programs are planned around each child’s unique attributes and interests with a focus on the Reggio Emilia approach with an emphasis on exploration of wonder, inquiry, and nature.
March 2020, a time of uncertainty for adults and children, was unknown territory. We all needed to plan, to make changes and adapt quickly to a new normal. The disruption to each and everyone was unclear. We all navigated our way in a short period of time. How was this to proceed? with our families, and our children, our careers….
Our people, our parents and caregivers, some of which didn’t have that choice to stay at home when NZ moved into Level 4, Lockdown. Creators was named by the Ministry Of Education to continue providing at home care for children who required care during the pandemic. They were children of essential workers, braver than brave, being dropped off to their educator as their ‘adults’ went out to work daily. Homebase childcare provides the foundation for strong reciprocal relationships to flourish between tamariki, educators, parents and whanau within tight communities, and for this we were grateful in such times. Children were attending care daily with adults who knew the child, delivering strong loving relationships that contributed to settled children.
For visiting teachers, we worked in a new but achievable manner. Day in day out, supporting daily and weekly guidance to our educators, always a phone call away, we understood the need to be available at all times, our people were scared too, our Educators opened their homes in unprecedented times to ensure the wellbeing of all children that required care. We recognised it as our privilege to partner with parents in raising their children, their education and wellbeing was our shared responsibility during lockdown, upholding the principle of Whanaungatanga.
For 20 years I have given my time and passion to the early childhood sector. I have always advocated for children and their families, both in centres and more recently as a Visiting Teacher supporting fellow Educators to be the best they can be when working with children. As a registered teacher in NZ, I am honoured to work with and alongside some of our leading specialists in the field. ECE is a journey, I see no end to what we are capable of as a collective, and am very fortunate to be backed and supported by a growing organisation that is nationwide. The possibilities and lines of direction for me are endless and I too can discover, explore and and follow my heart, setting new standards in a quality service.
What do I write? How as a teacher to many tamariki do I articulate what exactly is happening in our country. I am unsure, I am at home with my family, these feelings are overwhelming, no one knows one day from the next. We are all (mostly) in complete isolation from our friends and family. A bubble! One the government has ensured is kept while we fight against a virus that is taking the world by surprise and astonishment. Using Educa as a platform to document children’s learning and interests is a forum in which I communicate with families. My isolation diary was written early one morning, I wanted to pen a time in these children’s lives that was factual, but also meaningful to them later in life. I enjoyed writing this letter, and I received positive parent feedback, ‘Alana you made me teary, I didn’t know how to explain this, but you found the words for us to use”….
OUR ISOLATION DIARY (click on the image to read the original Learning Story in full)
BELONGING (click on the image to read the original Learning Story in full)
The Learning Story below was written by Alana in April 2020 about Lukah, whose Mum was an essential worker throughout the Covid lockdown. Taking into consideration how much a child’s emotions can change depending on their sense of belonging, Alana describes ways in which the teacher, Julie, took care to ensure Lukah was content, providing a sense of ‘home’ on her farm.