Many child care centres across Ontario had to close their doors in March, leaving kids missing their friends and routines.
Daycares in Simcoe County have been re-open since July 6, and caregivers will admit it was a learning curve coming back to new mandates.
Elizabeth Arruda, Owner of Wiz’s Daycare in Barrie, admits she didn’t think she would be able to do it. “But I figured it out, and I was able to put the safety procedures in place quickly. The kids are happy and safe, and we are all back together again,” she adds.
Toys such as stuffed animals and musical instruments have gone away, replaced by easily cleaned items like wooden and plastic toys.
“There is a lot of cleaning and handwashing, but it’s what’s needed to enjoy our safety,” she says, adding that it adds an estimated three hours to her day.
Daily temperature checks are also mandated, which makes some kids uneasy.
“I didn’t want the kids to be scared, so I enticed them with a chocolate treat,” she notes.
A separate daycare provider in Orillia, who prefers to remain anonymous, tells us she stayed open during the pandemic’s early stages.
“I was declared an essential worker and provided care for parents who were essential workers and had to work every day,” she explains, adding that they were all nervous during those uncertain times, “but we put our faith in one another that we would get through it together.”
Since then, her schedule has included increased cleaning, hand washing, and the children also nap in separate rooms.
Fortunately, she reports that the extra work has paid off: “We have not had a child home sick since the pandemic began!”
As for her kids, the daycare providers say the children in her care have adapted to this “new normal”, even if they still miss some of their stuff: “They miss certain toys and the dance parties we used to have where we would sing and dance around to our favourite Disney music. I brought in new toys to help compensate for the ones they were missing, and now we’ve moved our dance parties outside!”
When teachers head back to class, they will be dealing with new routines and overwhelming feelings. Although teachers deal with larger groups of children in different settings, both child care providers have some advice. In general, however, it’s all about making the kids feel safe.
“No matter the age of the kids, life as they know it is different. I feel it’s our job to be a source of calm and comfort, even if we are scared too,” says the Orillia child care provider.
Elizabeth echoes these sentiments, noting that kids have been through enough: “You just have to show them love. You can’t hug them all, but you can tell them they are loved. Tell them not to worry, and that they are safe.”
It’s an adult world right now, so we have to make sure our kids are safe and having fun! You can still have fun, just different types of fun.