As parents, we want to know that our little ones are safe while they are attending their child care centre.
To give you some peace of mind, we spoke with Nikki Ferrari, Centre Manager at Bluebird Early Education in Cranbourne.
We asked Nikki about all the ways her centre is supporting families during the Coronavirus, and how the centre has implemented the new social distancing rules to keep little ones safe.
New drop off and pick up routine
Nikki explained that the way that the children are dropped off and picked up at the centre has now changed. ‘We have implemented only ONE member of the family coming to drop off and pick up, to reduce the number of people coming in or out and the potential to spread germs,’ she explained.
Other centres have implemented policies where an educator will meet the child outside at the front gate and take them in, so that no parents need to enter the centre at all.
When the child is ready to be collected in the afternoon, the parent will press the intercom and an educator will come out with their children.
In both scenarios, parents are still able to chat with the educators about their child’s day, ask any questions and get feedback - all from a safe, socially distant 1.5m away.
Extra days when needed
Nikki’s centre, along with all of those in Australia, is currently able to offer free child care thanks to the government’s announcement in April 2020. This also includes the provision to offer priority placement to parents who are essential workers.
‘We have also been opening up extra spots to families who need it. We have one family whose Mum is a nurse, she’s been able to pick up extra shifts because we have been able to increase days for her kinder age child and offer before and after school care for her oldest child also.’
Hand sanitising stations
Nikki shared another way that they are preventing the spread of germs in their centre, which affects all educators, visitors and children.
‘We have hand sanitising stations at all entry points of the centre and within all studios,’ Nikki said. ‘All people need to be sanitising upon arrival and departure.’
This is a simple technique to ensure that everyone’s hands are clean as they move around the centre.
Within each of the rooms in the child care centre, washing hands has become part of the regular routine. ‘We have added hand washing and hygiene into all of our studios daily,’ shared Nikki.
Cleanliness, germs and handwashing has become a topic that all of the educators are using within their programming. They are sharing the information on the free app for parents and ensuring it is part of their future planning for the children’s curriculum.
The children are not just washing hands before and after meals or snacks. They are washing hands between activities, when they’ve been digging in the veggie garden, or when they move from outside to inside for example.
Educators that prepare food for the children are being extra vigilant with their hygiene practices during this time.
Changes to excursions and incursions
At present, the children at Nikki’s centre have put their excursions to the Botanic Gardens, the library, the local park, or their local primary schools on hold.
Instead, educators have had to get even more creative to keep their students entertained. The use of technology has been so helpful for centres looking for a way to introduce a new concept or skill.
Children are introduced to online programs that help them learn a language, build their musical skills, or even to take part in a yoga class.
Parents love to see what their child is getting up to while they are at child care, and now more than ever they want to know that they’re safe.
At Bluebird Cranbourne, educators use an app called EDUCA which gives parents free access to images and updates from their child’s day. This offers peace of mind to parents, as they see their child participating in the rituals such as hand washing and playing in a safe environment.
With so many families affected by job losses, reduction in hours, extra shifts for essential workers, illness or other disruptions, Nikki and some other parents wanted to offer some practical help.
‘We have a community pantry that is set up in our foyer area for our families to collect any items they need or want, and they can also leave items for other families.
During this time a lot of our families have been dropping off items such as nappies, wipes, toilet paper and pasta, as a way of helping one another out.’
A happy environment
For the educators, providing a happy, calm and safe environment for children is their main priority.
While they can explain the reasoning behind the new safety measures, they ensure that the children are not left feeling worried or anxious about what is going on in the outside world.
‘By providing a calm and nurturing environment, children will be free to play, learn and discover the world around them,’ says Nikki.
You can find out more about Bluebird Early Education in Cranbourne here, or search for child care in your area here.
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