COVID-19: Reflections and insights from teachers across the world

Carol White Family Centre

The Ministry of Education worked with partners to develop a package of options so that children across the education sector could continue to learn at home. Support was also prepared for households with children under five, to help parents and whānau keep their children engaged in learning through play.

Michelle Flower - Whangamata Kindergarten

I don’t think I will forget that feeling of panic, that flip of my stomach when I heard for the first time that NZ was going into lockdown.  My thoughts were initially on preparation, safety of my family, and for what life may look like in a bubble.  Two days, although seemingly quite a luxury in the life of a teacher, was just not enough time to get my head around what working from home might need to look like.

Chelsea Kindergarten

On the Monday morning of the week we went into lockdown we were talking with some parents and saying how unlikely it would be that we would close-after all at the stage the direction we had been given by the Ministry of Education was that we would only be closing the Kindergarten if we had a case of Covid here, and that seemed pretty unlikely as no one in our community had just returned from over seas.

Wu Jin Tao -Haike Kindergarten of Wenjiang District, China

Haike Kindergarten is a public/state-run kindergarten in Chengdu。The kindergarten opened in March 2014, 12 mix-age classes (3-6 year old). Currently it has 416 children enrolled. Each class has two teachers and one care-giver. The kindergarten aims for cultivating sunny,confident and creative kids with moral excellence and a love for poems.  Flexible programme are set up  and a lot of activities are designed to promote quality_oriented education and to realize children’s potential.

Roskill South Kindergarten

We are very happy to share a little of our documentation that relates to the period of Covid-19 . We will share a teacher reflection around the Rahui (Māori name of lockdown). Also two pieces of documentation written by a grandmother, that Nadine the teacher has responded to, as well as the documentation written for this child by Karen on return to the centre after lockdown. 

We also have another 4 Learning Stories to share that document the return of children on their first day back after lockdown.

Dr. Annie White, Assistant Professor of Education, Early Childhood Studies
California State University Channel Islands, USA

I have been impacted by COVID-19 in several ways. As a university instructor, abruptly, I lost all face to face contact with students to embark on a new journey with weekly online Zoom class meetings. It has been tricky to hold space and still deliver academic content for the students’ who have faced so many challenges. I have tried to find the fulcrum as I have endeavored to balance listening, caring, providing resources, all while trying to humanize online instruction. 

Ngaio Early Learning Centre, Childspace

These past couple of months we have lived through an extraordinary slice of history.  We asked some of our leaders and readers in early childhood to share their reflections on this moment in time and the value and importance of human relationships. Bobbi-Jo shares her experience.

Isauro M. Escamilla, Early Childhood Educator
San Francisco Unified School District, USA

I hope this email finds you well. I am sharing the Learning Story I wrote last month with the many insightful responses I received from early childhood educators near and far. Please, read it and see if there is a quote there that resonates with you. Or  perhaps you’ll find something worthy in this email.

Greerton Early Learning Centre
Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, New Zealand

What an absolutely fabulous first week back we have had here at GELC. The children have all been so happy and calm, kind and thoughtful. We know exactly why this is… you, their amazing whānau have filled their emotional tanks with love and fun during the nearly 8 weeks of lockdown. This time with you has allowed them to find their inner strength, their bravery and their love of adventure. Thank you all so much for your awesomeness. We have so enjoyed our week back with them and we look forward to another fun week ahead.

Old MacDonald’s Rural Education and Care Centre
Waikato, New Zealand

Although this is quite an unnerving time for the world, this situation is also a great opportunity for us to focus on what we truly value. It’s given us the chance to slow down our often fast-paced lives & focus on what’s important; family & health. 

Alison Gopnik that states, “What children observe most closely, explore most obsessively & imagine most vividly are the people around them. There are no perfect toys. There is no magic formula. Parents & other caregivers teach young children by paying attention & interacting with them naturally & most of all by just allowing them to play”. I believe this quote captures the beauty & significance of our current circumstance. Our tamariki are observing their parents/role models & are acting like sponges, taking in all this knowledge. Our tamariki are currently in the environment where they feel their most secure & happy, so their brains are ready to learn alongside their parents as they get involved in the ‘real work’ that is taking place at home.

Alana Henry
Creators Educational Trust, Hamilton, New Zealand

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.

Christine Carducci
SALSA Board Secretary (Supporting the Advancement of Learning Stories in America)

Christine shares a Learning Story she wrote at the beginning of lockdown, titled ‘Out My Window’.

“We are all learning about how resilient we can be in the face of extreme difficulties. These families are doing the best they can to cope. They are making time to get outside and offer the children a change of environment and some exercise. This is significant to mental and physical health. I do not know any details of the families’ context or situation that brought them to be walking down my street when they did – I only know that I am extremely fortunate to live in the neighborhood that I do, where it is safe, clean and welcoming for families to walk. I do not take this for granted and I recognize the privilege of my social class status and to be living in this way.”

Altyngul Taibassarova, Kindergarten Teacher
Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan

It was so lovely to hear from Altyngul Taibassarova. Altyngul lives in Astana, now Nur-Sultan the capital of Kazakhstan. She is currently involved in establishing a new kindergarten ‘Abadan Kindergarten and Family Centre’ which will have three languages of instruction (Kazakh, Russian and English).

Stay Informed!