We all want what is best for our kids. Keeping them safe, happy and learning in an environment where they thrive is at the forefront of Communities @ Work.
COVID-19 has presented so many changes and a level of uncertainty that us parents haven’t experienced before. Canmum spoke to Sean and Hayley, local educators at [email protected] to find out what this means for the kind of care they provide to children at Charles Weston School before and after school and in the school holidays.
Tell us a little bit about yourself
Sean: Sean Kelly, 26, Senior Program Coordinator at Charles Weston Out of School Hours Care, Diploma of School Age Education and Care, has worked in OSHC since 2014. I enjoy sports and the outdoors, come from a large family with six siblings and see myself building a career in working with children in any capacity.
Hayley: Hayley Apps 22, studying a Bachelor of Criminal Justice. I come from a very active family, I have a mum and a dad and two sisters, we’re all heavily involved in field hockey and any outdoor activities. I am in my last year of university and once I graduate I hope to join the Australian Federal Police Force. It has been my dream to become a police officer.
What has it been like running both the morning and after school care program during
Sean: It has been a very different feeling, very quiet due to parents taking health advice and keeping children home. For the children who have been attending we have had a lot of fun as we have had a chance to really connect due to the smaller group.
Hayley: It has been really quiet. We usually have 132 children in the afternoons, but we currently have considerably less children. In this time it has given educators the chance to attend to tasks that normally come second when the children’s needs are a priority.
Have you had difficulty getting supplies like has been reported in the news at other OSHC providers?
Sean: Hand sanitiser and paper towel have been the hardest to come by, along with the limits in place at grocery stores, which makes it hard to buy groceries for the children. Thankfully our school BSO has been stocking us up with toilet paper for the children!
Hayley: It was extremely hard at the start as we couldn’t get anything from the grocery stores. [email protected] have been amazing in supporting us in this time, providing us flexibility with our menus to ease the stress.
What sorts of activities are you doing with the kids?
Sean: The children each day collaborate together to choose what they want to do. We have been playing a lot of bubble soccer, we went for a walk down to the local pond (before restrictions applied), and have enjoyed dancing games or a movie in the afternoon.
Hayley: We have been cooking some yummy food with the children, just to give them a smile in this stressful time. They love pancakes! We have been enjoying outdoor walks, bubble soccer, movies and an endless supply of craft activities. Our children are really relaxed so anything we or they suggest is exciting and fun.
How are the kids? Are they happy as normal, or do you notice them being a bit anxious?
Sean: Children are as happy as ever. They have been enjoying the smaller groups and have been able to engage more in activities with educators which they love to do.
Hayley: The children haven’t been too concerned with what’s happening in the world right now. They actually love having a smaller group of friends to play with at OSHC as all of the attention is on them.
What is it that you most enjoy about your job?
Sean: Watching children grow and learn, as well as being able to help them develop into young adults and valued members of the community. Each day is completely different to the last, it keeps you on your toes. The children always find a way to make sure you leave each day with a smile on your face.
Hayley: I have been at Charles Weston for a few years now, so I have seen all the children grow into such amazing little humans. I come to work every day and they always put a smile on my face. I love that I can be that “someone else”, which the children can come to if they ever need support, guidance or just a friend to talk to. The relationships with the families at Charles Weston will stick in my mind forever.
What are some of the challenges you and others are facing?
Sean: In terms of COVID-19 the main challenges come with the uncertainty of it all. Parents are very unsure about whether to bring their children to OSHC, how to best support their children and how we can help them. As everything is very uncertain, every day brings a new challenge, or a different way of looking at things. [email protected] has been extremely supportive and helpful throughout this period.
Hayley: There’s a lot of confusion and uncertainty. We just want to reassure everyone that the OSHC services are still operating and we are here if they need us.
If you could let parents and kids know one thing, what would it be?
Sean: That we are here to support them (families and kids). We encourage the families to send their children
to OSHC, regardless of if they are attending school for the day or not. We want to keep their usual routine and make things as normal as possible for the children and their families, as well as assist in reducing the stress around this time. It also gives children and families a social outlet and to brighten their day.
Hayley: We are here and we are still operating. We want the families to know that their children are safe within our OSHC service.
How are you looking after yourself during this difficult time?
Sean: Keeping things as normal as possible. Working, studying and exercising as usual and trying to watch as little of the news as possible.
Hayley: I am honestly trying to continue my life as normal. Work, study and exercise which is very important. I have really focused on social distancing for the safety of myself and everyone around me.
[email protected] OSHC are operating with increased hygiene and social practices, and have the health and safety of children and educators as a priority.