It’s a feeling those of us with children in early childhood care can no doubt relate to — the tears and the worry (from both child and parent!) at morning drop-off.
You’ve got a lot on your mind, like getting to work, what might be for dinner later, not to mention the fact that you already miss your child and hope they’ll settle in quickly for their day.
Waiting on the station platform, or stuck in traffic, I bet you’ve wondered exactly what happens in those hours after you’ve headed to work?
I’d love to be a fly on the wall and watch my son interacting with his little friends and their educators. While I can’t see the world exactly through his eyes, I can get a sense from the educators who spend time with him.
I spoke to Jenny Kable, Children’s Services Nursery Curriculum Specialist at Only About Children early learning centres to see how they approach an average day with a young baby in their care.
The primary caregiver approach.
If you’ve ever watched your child alongside other children, or have more than one of your own, you’ll know there’s no such thing as ‘typical’. Babies and toddlers have different sleep patterns, interests and emerging personalities.
At Oac, the staff are encouraged “to go with the flow of the children”, Jenny tells Mamamia.
“The program is relationship-based, with each of the children having their own primary caregiver,” Jenny says. “The goal is to create a close relationship, and for the child to feel safe and secure.”
For this reason, the primary caregiver greets the child each morning, and also gets to know and work with their family. And if your child is ever upset at drop-off, or at any stage throughout the day, educators are also on hand to calm them and help them feel secure. They may suggest an activity, or move your child closer to some of their friends for extra support. Each primary caregiver has plenty of settling strategies up their sleeve, which is comforting to know.
“Our core value is respect for children, even the youngest ones. Whether they are three months or six weeks old, we believe in treating them as you would any human being,” Jenny explains.
This involves, where possible, having the caregiver perform intimate care tasks for consistency and respect. Essential aspects of the routine, such as feeding, sleeping and changing are seen as important learning experiences for the child. Through actively participating in these tasks, children develop independence and “become capable and confident learners”.