COMMUNITY shutdowns and uncertainty are hitting early childhood educators harder than they had thought, one Ballarat centre says. So, Sturt Street Early Learning's team decided to sing a Fight Song in a show of solidarity for their families and loved ones.
Educators, with toddlers dancing along, joined a national simultaneous singalong on Friday in what Sturt Street Early Learning director Annabel Geddes said was an uplifting but highly emotional moment.
WATCH THE SING-A-LONG BELOW
"We want the community to know we will stand strong and protect our children, no matter what we are faced with. We want to how our families as much support as we can," Ms Geddes said.
"Our numbers have dropped significantly with families choosing at this time to keep their children at home and we've had quite a few parents losing their jobs.
"It's been harder on educators than we thought. We don't get to see all our children everyday anymore."
Child care centres remain open despite school closures across Victoria this week leading into what is now the term break.
While Ms Geddes said most of the children at her centre, aged six months to six years, did not really understand what was happening, many were unsettled.
"They do pick up the vibe a lot. The centre's a bit different - a lot of their friends are no longer there - and home's a bit different. In that respect they do know something is happening," Ms Geddes said.
"...We've focused a lot on hygiene and handwashing and some parents have remarked how much more soap they are now going through at home."
UniSA early childhood education experts said having a "sense of agency" was important to children as well as adults.
Dr Lesley-anne Ey said children needed a sense of calm from adults in their lives during the coronavirus pandemic.
"Young children in particular are unlikely to be able to understand what's going on and how it will affect them, their family and their friends," Dr Ey said.
"They may be concerned that their loved ones are going to die; that Australia will run out of food; or that they'll not see their friends again.
"The need for protective practices is very real. But when explaining to kids the importance of more frequent handwashing, avoiding handshakes or high-fives, and not touching their face after touching things in public, (adults) should be clear that these steps are preventative not doomed steps."
UniSA suggests for younger children songs, games and jokes can work well to remind them of what they can do to stay safe. Families can talk together about what they might do to support each other, like reminding the family about handwashing.
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