July 24, 2020

ECE kaiako go above and beyond to support tamariki and whānau during COVID-19

While whānau across Aotearoa were locked down during alert level three, West Auckland Early Childhood Education kaiako (teachers) continued to support children’s development through creating unique learning packs.

The learning packs were tailored to each student and delivered to their mailbox, ensuring they continued to learn through play during lockdown. Kelston Community Early Childhood Centre Kaiako, Ata Hemopo, explains.

“To continue supporting our tamariki and whānau, our teaching team created ‘learning packs’ for our enrolled tamariki. Each kaiako has their own ‘key group’ of learners, and from their communication with these families, kaiako were able to individualise their packs for each learner. Just like our tamariki and whānau, each learning pack was unique.”

During lockdown, Healthy Families Waitākere gathered insights on how community-based ECE centres and their families were managing, and the effects the lockdown was having on health and wellbeing. Key themes emerged, including; the resilience and adaptability of kaiako, ECE’s significant role in supporting the wider whānau and the depletion of ECE resources due to creating the lockdown learning packs. Healthy Families Waitākere Lead Systems Innovator, Catherine Powell, continues.

“ECE centres regularly provide additional support to whānau beyond that of caring for children. During lockdown, this support increased from food staples to clothing for growing children, ECE staff supported whānau who found themselves struggling to make ends meet.”

“Even when ECE centres were able to re-open, we observed that many had a significant drop in attendance. There is a growing concern for whānau who have not returned and are missing out on the additional support offered by their ECE provider.”

Healthy Families Waitākere is now working alongside partner agencies to identify suitable support channels available to ECE centres, to ease their load through the challenging times ahead. This includes accessing funding and professional development, alongside opportunities to enhance wellbeing to manage the increased stress levels currently felt by ECE kaiako.