Ingvild AgaIt is essential to look after your own wellbeing. You have to be healthy first.
Name: Ingvild Aga
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?
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?
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 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?
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?
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.