Practical actions to help early childhood education services to respond to the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic

Going forward, leaders can work with their team to plan how they will support their children’s wellbeing and learning in a Covid-19 world. These plans will need to be flexible enough to accommodate a range of scenarios and conditions.

Possible scenarios to consider include:

  • some staff working from home because of concerns about their health or because they are waiting for Covid-19 test results
  • children who are unable to participate onsite regularly because of concerns about exposure to Covid-19
  • temporary closure due to exposure to Covid-19
  • lockdown – all staff and children working and learning at home.

Seven practical actions leaders may wish to consider are set out below.

1. Learn from the first phase

  • Take time to reflect on what worked well and identify any challenges that emerged through the first phase of this pandemic. As a team, consider how improvements could be made and commit to making the necessary changes.

2. Prepare

  • Having a pandemic plan in place for the service provides initial guidance of the steps that need to be taken to support the wellbeing of children and staff.
  • Leaders will need to stay up to date with the information shared by government organisations and use this to inform and adapt policies, procedures and practices.

3. Establish clear communication channels for timely and consistent sharing of messages

  • Good communication has proven to be an essential tool in helping to alleviate the stress of kaiako, parents and whānau.
  • Leaders will need to balance the amount of information shared. This means communicating the most pertinent facts with the right audience, clearly and succinctly, and being available to answer questions.

4. Encourage innovative approaches to how (and what) curriculum content is delivered

  • Educational continuity that occurred during the lockdown in March and April was due to committed and innovative leaders and kaiako.
  • Leaders might consider how they can build on the gains made in kaiako confidence and competence in using digital technologies. Encouraging kaiako to share the creative and innovative approaches they have used during alert levels with others is likely to spark further interest and innovation.

5. Plan for an effective delivery model for remote learning

  • It is important to establish good routines for online learning. This enables parents and whānau to know when kaiako are available and consider how their child might participate.
  • Leaders and kaiako might establish expectations of the level of participation required by staff and the content they would be expected to deliver and take into consideration the support they may need.

6. Involve parents and whānau in a review of how well the curriculum met their and their child’s needs and use this to inform ongoing developments

  • Consult with parents and whānau to determine what worked well for whānau and their child with online learning. Encourage them to share what they would they like to see more of or less of and adjust future curriculum delivery.

7. Monitor their own wellbeing as a leader and that of staff

  • Looking after leaders’ own wellbeing is essential. Leaders may need to establish their own support networks and take the time to connect with them. Balancing work and personal life is important.
  • Leaders have a direct impact on their staff wellbeing. Effective communication is the first step. It is also important to minimise the stress placed on staff where possible. Leaders could look at the range of tools that are available and use these to support the wellbeing of staff.

Where can services and whānau go to for help?

Ministry of Education Covid-19 Information and Advice

Ministry of Education Child Wellbeing and Participation Portal

New Zealand Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy

Healthy Active Learning

Te Whāriki Online