The Sesame Lane team, parents and children have shown extraordinary resilience since COVID-19 restrictions changed the way they live, work, learn and play.
Head of Sesame Lane Kerri Smith says there’s never been a time like it in the 31 years Sesame Lane has been providing childcare for families in the Moreton Bay Region, but it’s also resulted in the industry being acknowledged and supported as an essential service for the first time.
“Our educators and teachers really are on the frontline, potentially exposing themselves and their families to COVID-19, while caring for children of essential workers,” Kerri explains.
“All our staff have adapted to changed routines and processes due to social distancing as well as increasing our already stringent hygiene practices, while supporting our children and families to ensure our centres are a haven for the children in our care.
“We take every measure to ensure the wellbeing of all our educators and teachers, who in turn ensure the health and wellbeing of the children. We know that everyone in the community has a new-found respect and appreciation for our early childhood educators and teachers.”
The number of children and adults allowed in each centre has been capped daily, giving everyone more room to play, learn and work.
Children from Sesame Lane regularly visit residents of local aged care facilities and with these facilities being the first to be locked down due to COVID-19, educators were pro-active to ensure children and residents could keep in touch.
They helped children put together ‘keep in touch’ packs, which included pictures, drawings, paintings and craft resources for the residents to use during lockdown.
“The children and residents are both looking forward to seeing each other again when social distancing restrictions are lifted, but in the meantime, both young and old are learning new ways of keeping in touch,” Kerri says.
And the large number of families at home with children have not been forgotten either.
“Some of our kindergarten children have been ‘zooming’ once a week with kindergarten children who are at home, to make sure they still feel a part of the class and stay connected with friends,” she says.
For the many parents having to home-school and find activities for their children, Sesame Lane has put together care packs. These are available at the front of their centres, so families can drive by, pick up a pack of resources, activities, and art and craft to keep their little ones busy at home.
And for families looking for little bit more, Sesame Lane has introduced Owlbert’s (not-so-secret) Diary on its website and on YouTube. It’s full of experiences, smiles, laughter and activities to spark creative thinking, learning, imagination and inventiveness in everyone. The videos feature Sesame Lane educators, staff and friends. Family meal videos have also been popular.
“We've found that there have been some changes in the needs of our children at this time. The first one is they're staying home over the weekend, so they have lots and lots of mental and physical energy to burn,” Kerri says.
“Our Educators are ensuring that there are lots of physical activities available for the children outside throughout the day. It's been especially important for us to know our children's situations at home, so we can provide support and activities to accommodate their needs.”
It's also important children have the chance to talk through what they’re seeing, hearing and perceiving about COVID-19.
“You might not think your little one is in touch with the current events, but they're like sponges and see, hear and feel everything around them. Even an overheard conversation at care or the supermarket can have a huge impact,” Kerri says.
“Children need trusted adults who will listen to their concerns, offer reassurance and answer questions to help them to process how they are feeling. This includes healthy ways to cope with anxiety and tolerate uncertainty.
“Children are deeply resilient and tend to manage the hardships of life so much better when they’ve got the support of a reassuring adult to guide the way.”
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