A new day is rising as we emerge in this “COVID safe” world. We have experienced a time in our personal and professional lives unlike any that have occurred before. This has prompted a reflection of policies and our practises that emerged during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The recognition of the essential role of Early Childhood education for families and society has been a positive outcome from the pandemic. This recognition must continue! Early Childhood experiences shape the trajectory for children’s future well-being and education.
“Like it or not, the most important mental and behavioural patterns, once established, are difficult to change once children enter school.” (Heckman & Wax, 2004.)
At a service level, we have been extremely fortunate at St Luke’s Catholic Early Learning Centre (CELC) being supported to continue our daily operation throughout the pandemic. We have changed and adapted our practises in response to COVID-19 to facilitate the safety and wellbeing of the children, families and teachers. Many of these changes are ‘silver lining’ benefits that we now seek to continue.
Over the last fortnight, as a team, we have critically reflected on our practises to support our planning as we emerge in this new day rising.
To support this critical reflection, we looked at the following
- What are the positives that have come from our current situation?
- What practises would we like to keep?
- What practises would we like to Change?
- Where to next?
During COVID-19, as a team we developed a mission statement for St Luke’s CELC. As we have now been open for over 2 years we believed this time provided a valuable opportunity to develop.
“With thoughtfulness and intention, we consider our values and beliefs about the purpose of education: about what kind of people we want to be and the kind of world we want to live in …
Vision integrates imagination, passion, and delighted anticipation of the possible. Vision sets our course…
Who are we as a community? How will we live into our vision? How will we express ourselves?”
Pelo and Carter, 2019
We reviewed and discussed the Early Childhood Australia Code of Ethics, and sought to apply these to the Catholic Diocese of Parramatta Services Limited principles of Respect, Encourage and Care to our context at St Luke’s CELC.
From this experience, we were reminded of our “Why.” This was used as a touchstone to go back to our purpose and shared vision, binding us as a team in challenging circumstances.
Practises to Keep
Practises to keep can be grouped to the following areas of focus
- Supporting children’s independence
- Health and Hygiene Practises
- Professional Development
Children have been encouraged to develop their capability to Manage Self which is a key St Luke’s Pillar of learning as they walk into the CELC independently each day. This practise will continue due to the social distancing requirements and we are investigating how we will continue this.
An adjustment of practise has resulted in the sharing of home based learning experiences with families. This is a practise we seek to continue as a means to facilitate the continuity of experience between home and the CELC. We have had a very positive response from families to this change.
Where to Next?
The teachers are exploring different forms of documentation to record observations of children. This has included small group experiences, project investigations and individual observations. In their small group experiences with the children, we are exploring the use of project books to record children’s questions, wonderings and explorations.
We are continuing to explore this as a means of documentation to collect information, analyse and plan this as part of the planning cycle.
In conclusion, I am sharing a quote from Loris Malaguzzi when describing the role of the teacher and their impact on children’s trajectories. It is a reminder of our important role as we continue to critically reflect on our practises in response to our ever changing contexts.
“Each one of us needs to have curiosity, and we need to be able to try something new based on the ideas that we collect from the children as they go along. Life has to be somewhat agitated and upset, a bit restless, somewhat unknown. As life flows with the thoughts of the children, we need to be open, we need to change our ideas; we need to be comfortable with the restless nature of life….
What we want to do is activate within children the desire and will and great pleasure that comes from being the authors of their own learning. Children have a right to a good school — a good building, good teachers, right time, good activities. This is the right of ALL children.”