My message to colleagues around the world:
If you could send one positive message to your colleagues around the globe at these challenging times, what would it be?
If you could send one positive message to children and families/caregivers around the globe at these challenging times, what would it be?
What are you learning during these times as an individual and a professional?
I have also developed rituals to sustain my energy under tight timelines and pressure. These rituals were especially crucial during busy times. For example, I start the day early with a walk or workout. For me, this is a mind detox. I have also scheduled time for lunch and avoid answering any calls so that I can refocus.
On an individual level, as an outgoing and social person, I was surprised to find that I could exercise alone. It turns out that I don't need to join an exercise class to workout. I discovered that I actually enjoy working out alone, and I can learn from a YouTube exercise clip!
Being open, flexible, and loving the unknown has really helped me stay positive and, in turn, allowed me to support those who needed it.
When you think about the work you are doing, and the children and families you are serving, what concerns you the most now and for the next period?
I worry that children may be affected by increased stress or anxiety in their home as parents struggle with their own concerns and worries.
Care, teamwork, and giving emotional support through a hug or a touch is irreplaceable. Our children need these elements to thrive emotionally! Children need to grow up in a positive, safe environment to understand empathy and the importance of working together.
What would you like people to know and understand about your work during the COVID-19 pandemic?
These values apply to the staff, children, and the families within the Chiltern community.
I continue to support my five centre leaders and their teams, both physically and emotionally. I had weekly meetings to keep in touch with the leaders to make sure they are doing well. These meetings are also a safe space for them to share their challenges and for us to find solutions.
These meetings are an opportunity to find out how everyone is doing and gather feedback about how things have worked for everyone. We are learning to work differently in this pandemic. We had a situation where a staff member needed time away to cope, and we allowed her time off to support her needs. If anyone is feeling low or stressed on our staff, it is my role to determine with my leaders how we can support them.
During this pandemic, our governing body, the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA), has frequently sent updates on measures that they put in place. Whenever there are new measures, my centre leaders and I discuss to make sure we all get the same information. I also write emails to keep parents updated on measures and inform them about what needs to be done.
I also keep in touch with my centre leaders to see whether any children are in distress and find strategies or resources to help children. In a continued effort to provide a Holistic Education, I shared perspectives with my centre leaders on how our Home Base Learning needs to be age-appropriate and create opportunities for children to be confident in performing activities on their own.
Maintaining a positive relationship with parents is an important part of my role. To support families, I look at the needs of each individual family. I review policies that might need adapting to support them during these difficult times. Right now, this is generally related to fees. If parents need clarification about our curriculum, we meet with them virtually to provide clarity.
In a broader sense, I also work closely with the various departments and my Group Managing Director, Fiona Walker, to review strategies to sustain the business during this pandemic. We are always open to looking at new ways of working and different ways to innovate.
I have found that being open and embracing the unknown is key to staying relevant and sustainable in this pandemic.