“Dream big, work hard, stay focused and surround yourself with good people.”
I’m a big fan of inspirational quotes and Facebook memes because sometimes they just hit the right note. In our service, we like to dream big which includes a collaborative dream of a “perfect” creche. This idea forms the centre or ethos of our service. We are far from perfect but through hard work and staying focused we like to think that together we make baby steps towards “our perfect”. Baby steps can add up over time and every so often it is nice to stop and look back at how far we have come.
So, what does our perfect creche look like? Well it’s a language-rich environment, has high-quality interactions, there is play, play, play, the outdoor environment is at least as important as the indoor environment, there is an emphasis on self-regulation and choice and in the centre of all of this is the confident and competent child. Our ideal imagined environment is not one of classrooms and restrictions but rather of a small community where children and adults can wander, help and learn with each other. It is our idea of perfect and an idea that is constantly evolving.
I struggled with the new guidelines for re-opening post COVID-19. “Separate pods,” screamed at me and for a moment the dream crumbled. “No parents in the creche – what was going to happen to our sense of community?” “Guidelines!” I yelled in my head “could someone not just tell us what to do?”.
Thank goodness our service has an abundance of good people. With good people, negative thoughts and worries can be talked about and shared. Educators, parents and children have all rallied in their support. Together we began to look at things more positively, allowing us to reset our focus with some compromises and even some silver linings. Together, our line of thinking changed.
“You wouldn’t tell a child what to do to solve a problem – you’d guide them to finding a solution that works for them and others around them.”
“We have a real opportunity here to explore mixed age groups.”
“It’s great that siblings will spend more time together.”
“Settling new children may be a challenge but we will find a way to make it work for everyone.”
“It will need a bit of re-thinking and hard work – but that’s what we are good at.”
“We will keep doing our best, things will work out.”
“We may not get to perfect or be totally happy with our results – we can always re-jig – we can keep trying, like always.”
“We will learn as we go. It will get easier.”
As a service, our small community of staff and families have worked together to manage our core values within COVID-19 guidelines.
There are many different approaches to early years education, just as there are many ways to interpret and implement government guidelines. In our small community, we have discussed, agreed, disagreed and argued. There is no one size fits all. We have just done our best to reduce transmission risk while keeping each child’s wellbeing at the centre of what we do and love.
Sarah Twohig is Manager at Crawford Childcare in Glanmire, Co. Cork. Sarah began her career in Early Years Education after her own children started school. Returning to education after a break, she studied Early Years at FETAC level 5 and continued to complete a HETAC Level 8 in Early Childhood Studies and LINC. Sarah joined Crawford Childcare in 2010. Her areas of interest in the early years include the benefits of outdoor play, supporting children’s social competence and inclusion.