This is an unprecedented time in the ECE profession. Individuals, managers and owners/operators are faced with conflicting pressures:
- Ethically what’s my/our responsibility to flatten the curve and help care for our society?
- What will the government mandate around closures and self isolation mean for our families?
- How will this affect our team, families, occupancy and operations?
- What are parents going to do as fear escalates, some choose to self isolate and some are made redundant?
What we do know is that ECE services are not only an important part of children’s and families day to day lives, but also a cornerstone of our communities and an essential part of our economy. Government is likely to be very cautious with any closures, and (hopefully) generous in their support of the ongoing access to and sustainability of services.
If parents are forced to spend time at home with their children they may feel ‘stuck’ with what to do, and will be looking for support and ways of continuing their child’s learning. Ongoing support and coaching from educators will be appreciated and will demonstrate the expertise and value of your team and service.
Times of stress are difficult for children, parents, educators and business owners/operators. Stress can bring out the best and worst in people and it’s important we work together as a community with kindness and empathy. We need to stay connected and care for our teams, our customers and our families as best we can during this time, especially for those isolated by Covid19. This is not only the right thing to do from an ethical standpoint, but also important in ensuring customer / staff retention and sustainability.
This means rethinking some of our current ways of working and considering how we create the best possible experience for each party in this new context. For example, what does ‘family engagement’ mean during closures? How can educators best collaborate and work together outside of the centre?
Here’s some ways Storypark might be helpful in your response:
- Use the network messaging tool to quickly and effectively share news, updates, policies and resources with parents at all/some of your centres using each centre’s ‘community area’ in Storypark. See delivery rates, reduce work for Centre Directors, ensure consistency of messaging for you at head office and maintain the connection between parents and centre staff.
- Encourage families to share their own stories and photos with educators and other family members on Storypark as part of your new Covid support initiatives. Maintain and strengthen the educator-parent relationship and support children’s learning at home.
- Set up a private ‘community hub’ for all educators across your services. This can be used for topic-based discussions, to provide coaching and mentoring using each Educator’s ‘teacher portfolio’, and for sharing internal messages via the Storypark app (which notifies educators and won’t be buried in their inbox). A community hub can form a great online community space to complement and extend the work happening at an individual centre, share successful practice and unify an organisation. It’s easy to set up, just get in touch.
- Create templates in your head office Storypark account that will be automatically shared with your centres. These templates may include:
- Process documents to help educators know how to support families via video over time
- Professional development plans for educators to pursue while they are on isolation
- Care plans to support children and families who are most at risk
- Health and safety plans/policies to support new practices at centres
- Create individual plans for children in partnership with their parents to support them during isolation or centre closures. Educators can use this as a way to help share specific resources with families to support their child’s learning at home, and be in regular communication with parents (we’ve also created a suite of resources that can be shared with families here). Parents can create their own observations on Storypark and Educators can use these to provide ongoing, iterative, relevant support.
- Share invitations to video conference gatherings using the community area at each centre. This can also be done by people at head office who have ‘Network Administration’ access within Storypark and so can support Educators with this process. As a side note, we recommend Zoom as the most robust, easy to use platform for this purpose as it easily enables multiple people to chat. Plus they are offering free access to support organisations through this crisis
- Use private conversations to get more cut through than an email and support individual parents’ unique circumstances or concerns. These can be created both at a centre level and by people with ‘Network Administrator’ level access who are part of a centre.
Doing these things could help you:
- Support teachers personal situations and mental health individually through private messaging and coaching
- Best utilise the time that educators may be removed from children
- Help educators (and your organisation) stay connected with children and families,
- Maintain the trajectory of children’s learning
- Run webinars so parents can call in and discuss concerns, benefit from coaching, stay confident, positive and stay connected with your team
- create consistent messaging around health and safety policies and practices at a day to day level.
- Create a schedule of which educators are calling which parents during closures, with transparency on whose done what
Storypark is a purpose (rather than profit) led organisation and we care deeply for the children, families, educators and organisations that we serve. If you’d like help implementing any of these suggestions Storypark is offering free professional learning and development support on top of that already offered by our customer support team to assist your Covid19 response through the next few months.
We’ll be sharing regular resources for families, educators, children and organisations via our social channels and directly with our customers.
Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.