Supporting educator wellbeing


ACECQA’s National Education Leader, Rhonda Livingstone encourages you to consider your own wellbeing during this challenging time, and the role it plays in your work with children, families and colleagues.

Wellbeing incorporates both physical and psychological aspects and is central to belonging, being and becoming. Without a strong sense of wellbeing, it is difficult to have a sense of belonging, to trust others and feel confident in being, and to optimistically engage in experiences that contribute to becoming (Early Years Learning Framework, p. 33; Framework for School Age Care, p. 30).

The work and commitment of educators, teachers, staff, service leaders and approved providers is widely acknowledged and valued, as you collaboratively continue the important work of providing Australian children and families with quality early learning and school age care services. During these challenging times, a safe, predictable place for children and families is valued more than ever. In this blog, I’d like to invite you to consider your own wellbeing, and that of others within your service and community during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Australian studies have identified that educators’ wellbeing can be adversely impacted when effective, ongoing supports are not in place. Along with high rates of stress, this contributes to emotional exhaustion and educators leaving the profession (Jones, Hadley & Johnstone, 2017). We also know anecdotally that educators, service leaders, children and families are experiencing a higher level of stress from a variety of sources since the outbreak of COVID-19.

We all have a role to play in observing and monitoring the wellbeing of the people we work with. This attentiveness and responsiveness allows us all to better understand each other and build a well and effective team. Educators with a strong sense of wellbeing will be better positioned to meet the emotional needs of children returning to services, while supporting them in self-regulation and developing resilience. These capacities are essential for building secure relationships with children (Quality Area 5).

ACECQA has developed the Supporting educators during these challenging times information sheet to help service leaders reflect on and review their current practices and strategies to support the wellbeing of their staff. The information and resources can help build and support your own resilience and the wellbeing of others. The information sheet also features government and sector initiatives to support service leaders in their important role, as well as information for their teams.

ACECQA’s family focused brand StartingBlocks.gov.au has also developed some COVID-19 resources to share with families to support their changing circumstances and health and wellbeing at this time.

As a result of the complex nature of educator wellbeing, comprehensively and proactively addressing issues requires a shared approach to taking responsibility, including educators, educational leaders, nominated supervisors, service leaders and approved providers.

It is this collaborative and positive approach that will enable us to support each other and our individual and collective wellbeing, which is even more important in these challenging times.

Related resources to build understanding of educator wellbeing during COVID-19

Reference

Jones, C., Hadley, F. & Johnstone, M. (2017). ‘Retaining early childhood teachers: What factors contribute to high job satisfaction in early childhood settings in Australia’. New Zealand International Research in Early Childhood Education Journal, 20(2), 1-18. Retrieved from: https://researchers.mq.edu.au/en/publications/retaining-early-childhood-teachers-what-factors-contribute-to-hig

COVID-19 conversations with children

Rear view shot of a mother speaking with her young daughter

ACECQA’s General Manager, Strategy, Communications and Consistency, Michael Petrie, shares insights and learnings to support conversations with children.

All of us here at ACECQA are focusing our efforts on working with governments to provide the children’s education and care sector and families with up to date and reliable information about Coronavirus (COVID-19).

Whether that be health advice, information regarding financial sustainability for services, or advice for families on what activities they can do at home with their children, we are here to support you as best as we can throughout this period.

Talking to children about COVID-19 and what to expect going forward is critically important and would be a current priority for all parents and families.

Every parent knows the personalities of their children, especially how they react to changing circumstances. The coming months will be a test of the resilience of all of our community, not just our children.

Each child or age group will have their own level of awareness, and it is important to answer their questions honestly so they have the level of reassurance they may need.

On this point, I’d like to share a discussion my wife and I had with our children about COVID-19.

Following last month’s government announcements regarding travel restrictions and closing restaurants/venues, my wife and I decided it was important to have a conversation with our children about what was happening… but, more importantly, what was to come.

Not exactly knowing where their respective level of awareness was at – even though we had briefly discussed ‘the virus’ with them – we started with the basics of what COVID-19 is and the health issues associated with it.

Both of my children are in primary school, with a ‘we already know this’ attitude, and they told us their teachers had discussed the virus and the importance of hand washing, covering mouth/nose when coughing or sneezing and keeping a level of distance between people.

Starting with the basics was good, as it resulted in them asking us questions about their school closing and online classes until holidays started. We replied that, at this point schools weren’t closing, but if they did, their teachers could provide online lessons for them to complete at home until school holidays started.

I’d love to be able to report that they were happy with this answer – but the groan we received was exactly what we expected!

We quickly turned the conversation to what we really wanted to focus on… and this was to outline what was likely to happen in our house and community over the next few months.

We explained that to help limit the spread of COVID-19, there would need to be a number of changes to how we lived. Mum and Dad would probably be working from home for the next little while, they wouldn’t be able to play their team sports on the weekend, we couldn’t go out to restaurants or the movies, they wouldn’t be able catch up for play dates with their friends, and their grandparents would no longer be able to fly across and stay with us as planned.

This was the confronting bit of the conversation and the part they didn’t really understand.

A lot of questions followed, so we did our best to explain why COVID-19 meant there needed to be fundamental changes to their, and everyone’s, way of living for the time being.

We explained that we all had to do our part, but that it wasn’t all bad news. There were alternatives we could explore as a family – we could chat to friends and grandparents over the internet, all four of us could play more games at home together (yes, including PlayStation!), we could have movie nights and our own weekly sporting competitions in the backyard (my knees willing!).

While we couldn’t give them the definitive answer as to when things would be back to normal, they did, for the time being at least, seem reassured that everything was going to be different for a while and that’s ok.

My wife and I know this is just the start of the many conversations we will have with our children over the coming months, and they know to come and talk to us if they do become worried about anything. There are no silly questions during this time, and keeping open conversations running to mythbust any fears that might develop is very healthy.

As I mentioned at the start, every parent knows their child and how to talk with them. Different age groups have different levels of understanding of the world around them.

So, if you are looking for tips on how to engage in these conversations, we will be sharing advice from experts via ACECQA’s family focused StartingBlocks.gov.au on its website and Facebook page.

Services can access the latest information, support and guidance about COVID-19 on the ACECQA website. You may also wish to share these resources with the families at your service:

Go well.

Michael Petrie