The leadership team at The Royal Children’s Hospital Melbourne Early Learning, are without a doubt feeling the impact that COVID-19 has made on educational services worldwide. They have, however, viewed the disruption with a different lens to many other learning services. They see this time as a unique opportunity to promote the important and educated work they do in regards to curriculum and learning. Educational leader, Courtney Caligiore, states “we can’t afford to waste this!!”
What Courtney means is, if they send families a list of activities to keep children “busy”, they are only sending the message that their daily work with children is similar! They want to highlight meaningful learning to share with their families. For early childhood educators, setting up activities and supporting children’s play certainly does keep children busy, but “if thought out and executed effectively, can show families the INTENT behind what we do, and how play-based activities can highlight and support specific developmental needs.”
Although still operating (under guidance from The Australian Health Protection Principal Committee (AHPPC) families are advised to keep their children home where possible. For many families around the world in this situation, being supported remotely by their children’s educators has become commonplace. This is the unique time that Courtney’s team describe as being a window of opportunity to educate not just the children, but their families as well.
“It is important the learning continues at home so that when children return to us, they bring the same knowledge and experiences back to the learning environment. No child should be disadvantaged from staying healthy and safe.”
Courtney says that the RCH Early Learning team are effectively asking families to take on their roles as educators. For this reason, they say it is essential that they are equipping families with the right tools and resources. This ensures that they are set up for success. Courtney explains in more detail, what this looks like. “We not only provide a goal and a list of resources, but we provide leading questions that prompt them to reflect and evaluate their child’s learning. Our role as educators is to monitor their progress, and continue to extend the learning where needed.”
Courtney shared a fantastic idea for children to contribute to maintaining their sense of community from afar. Giving children a weekly challenge can be a great way for children to work towards a shared goal, despite not being physically close to each other.
The teaching team have worked so hard for the past few months, fostering a sense of community for all at RCH Early Learning and building strong, trusting and respectful relationship with children and their families. They are still working hard at this now, it just looks a little different. Using technology to regularly communicate with each other, at home or in the classroom, the educators want children to know that although they are not physically near their friends and educators, they are all in this together.
A big thank you to
Courtney Caligiore, Educational Leader
Audrey Calonge, Kindergarten Teacher
Sarah Nancarrow, Kindergarten Teacher