Ingvild Aga

 

Ingvild Aga

My message to colleagues around the world:
It is essential to look after your own wellbeing. You have to be healthy first.


Name: Ingvild Aga
Country: Norway
Job title: Pedagogical leader
Sector: Early childhood education
Child age group she works with: 3-6 years of age

 

Ingvild is a pedagogical leader at a kindergarten in Norway. She told us about how the importance of her work has been apparent during the COVID-19 pandemic and her concerns for the most vulnerable children in her community.

 

If you could send one positive message to your colleagues around the globe at these challenging times, what would it be?
It isn't easy to give just one, so I will provide a few. We are proud professionals who put children first, and we'll hope for better times to come.

I also want to mention that I think it's very important to be organized in a union so that we can be included in the decision making process for kindergartens at every level – local and national. It is important to be organized, but also to stand together. We can see here that there is pressure on the working arrangements; there is a pressure to work longer days, and even though we all put extra effort in, there is a limit. Standing together helps us set the limit.

I would also like to remind people that it is essential to look after your own wellbeing. You have to be healthy first.

 

If you could send one positive message to children and families/caregivers around the globe at these challenging times, what would it be?
My message is almost the same as what I would send to my colleagues.I would tell them we are putting children first.

I would also tell them that we are following all the instructions to take care of the children; your children are safe here.

 

What are you learning during these times as an individual and a professional?
I learned many things. I realized that academic content is important during a crisis. We keep structure and stability for children.

I realized we make a difference for the parents who feel insecure, especially parents with language barriers. I believe the information from the national and local government was difficult to access for these parents. We've been able to help parents understand a bit more and also provide some normalcy for children.

We can feel how important we are during this crisis. When parents feel insecure and scared, their feelings also affect their children. Children can start to feel unsure too. We have been crucial in helping the families through this.

On a personal level, it became clearer that people depend on each other to live good lives, and we're not so good when we are totally on our own, or alone, or isolated.

Some good learnings have come out of this situation. For example, here in Norway, we've seen the importance of listening to staff and cooperation between unions, their representatives, and decisionmakers.

I see that here in my workplace. During the COVID-19 pandemic, we've had more digital meetings with our leaders to find the right solutions. This has helped us successfully cope with the situation.

 

What would you like people to know and understand about your work during the COVID-19 pandemic?
We are doing our best to keep a kind of normalcy. That's what we've been trying here in my working place.

When the kindergarten was closed, we got a letter from one child, letting us know how much he missed us (meaning the adults and his friends). We've heard from many children that they miss their friends and miss kindergarten. With all the world is seeing, all the insecurity, kindergarten has been a safe place for the children.

 

What concerns you the most now, and what concerns you most for the upcoming period?
There are a few things. One of the concerns is for children with special needs and other vulnerable groups. There is an extended case processing time right now. For those that we are worried about, it will take a long time before we can actually get help for them or even find the root of the problem they face.

Cooperation with the parents is a concern. Having meeting points is difficult, especially with language barriers.

Another thing has been cuts in the funding from the community where I live. They are cutting back the budget, so we have to save money on everything. It's quite a challenge when we need to have temporary people. So, when people get sick, we won't have people here to cover. A staff shortage is concerning. I think we are also concerned about having time to organize with some of the new rules.

 


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