Infant Care – 5 Things Parents Should Consider During a Pandemic
COVID-19 has prompted some parents to reconsider sending their children to infant care. With a pandemic that could last over a year, it is not realistic to put a child’s growth on hold and miss out on much-needed care and development in their early formative life (2 – 17 months old). A carefully guided infant care programme can benefit your child and extra safety measures implemented during this pandemic help to ensure your child gets the best care and education.
Whilst young, infants develop fundamental life skills such as hand-eye coordination, self-feeding and maintaining eye contact; all before they turn 18 months old. At such a tender age, your children require a secure environment to learn and grow physically and mentally. This safe space to facilitate quality infant care is even more crucial now during the uncertainty of a pandemic.
At PCF Sparkletots, our staff are guided by five “Children First” principles to ensure that they are always treated respectfully, their needs are always acknowledged and addressed, strong relationships are built, they can enjoy a safe and secure environment in school, and that educarers only use positive and age-appropriate strategies.
Learning and going to school is always made enjoyable, as is the case for Kaylee, a 22-month-old. Her proud mother, Mrs. Kathy Lee, shared that her daughter has been enrolled into Sparkletots since she was 10 months old and likes it so much that “never one day has she dreaded heading to school!”
Enhanced Safety Measures
First and foremost, since 2 June 2020, all PCF Sparkletots preschools have implemented more stringent safe management measures under our PCF Sparkletots Preschool Safety Plan. Our plan focuses on 5 key areas:
- Good personal hygiene and stringent health checks
- Safe distancing
- Segregation of staff/children whenever possible
- Regular disinfection and sanitisation
- Being ready and nimble to manage any contingencies should they arise
Our plans are also aligned with the COVID-Safe ABC framework and guidelines from the Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) and we remain prepared to step up our measures where necessary.
To facilitate COVID-Safe Access, PCF Sparkletots restricts the entry of visitors, requires travel declarations from staff, children and their families, and enforces temperature checks for staff and children 3 times a day.
To ensure COVID-Safe Behaviours, PCF Sparkletots requires all teaching and non-teaching staff to wear face masks at all times, ensuring the safety of our children. In addition, cribs and sleeping mats are spaced out and disinfected at regular intervals, and activity areas such as the infant bay, changing mats, diaper changing area are all given a thorough wipe down after every use.
Lastly, for COVID-Safe Classrooms, cross-class activities for children and staff and cross-deployment of staff across centres have been suspended to minimise any risk of transmission across classes and centres. Also, the drop-off and pick-up timings of children and the use of common areas and facilities by different classes have been staggered to prevent mixing of groups and maximise safety.
Experienced and Qualified Educarers Who Nurture
Infant care programmes are best facilitated by educarers who have undergone professional training and are qualified to provide the best education and care for infants and toddlers.
At Sparkletots, most of our educarers have completed a rigorous 4 to 8-month course to obtain a Higher Certificate in Infant Care (HCIC), which include 120 hours of practical experience in childcare centres — the HCIC empowers them to teach and take care of infants up to 18 months old. In addition, many of our educarers hold an Advanced Certificate in Early Years (ACEY), which has equipped them with the knowledge and skills to guide toddlers up to 3 years of age.
But professional qualifications aside, our educarers are most importantly trained to identify and guide children’s development through observation and subsequent customisation of their learning by planning activities to help them meet their milestones — guided by our five “Children First” principles.
As infants grow rapidly and beginning to formulate speech, our educarers are equipped with the skills to have quality and responsive interactions with your children, weaving teaching into everyday conversations and building a positive attitude towards learning.
PCF Sparkletots also complies with ECDA regulations of having 1 educarer to a maximum of 5 infants. Assistant teachers are deployed to assist the primary educarers when necessary, bringing the ratio down to 1:4 or even 1:3 in many cases. This ensures that your child is given sufficient personal attention for healthy development.
What makes Sparkletots the parents’ choice is best summarised by Ms Kathryn Goy, Executive Principal who firmly believes: “A responsive and nurturing educarer will form a secure attachment with the infant, which in turn impacts their social-emotional development. This positive experience is fundamental to the infant’s holistic growth in their formative year and has a direct impact on their adulthood.”
Holistic Curriculum for a Firm Foundation
“Holistic” is not just a buzzword in education. A holistic curriculum includes a wide range of activities, such as physical, early language, numeracy, aesthetics and creative expressions activities, makes for an all-round education that enables infants to grow as a whole.
“Don’t underestimate the ability of infants to learn and develop,” says Ms. Cherie Lim, Executive Principal.
In her opinion, one of the best ways to enable this is for “adults to engage them in hands-on play in a safe and secure learning environment.”
At Sparkletots, our Early Years curriculum is guided by children’s developmental milestones and the principle that young children (below 3 years old) learn through sensory experiences and intellectual engagement with the world around them. It focuses on providing heuristic (hands-on) experiences for the integration of infant reflexes and cognitive and social development. One example is the Amazing Hands programme, which prepares infants for prewriting and develops simple self-help skills. Amazing Hands makes use of fun and engaging activities to help infants improve eye-hand coordination and develop fine motor skills.
Mrs. Kathy Lee also appreciates the nurturing that has shaped her daughter’s growing confidence: “A year since she started schooling, she’s grown to be more expressive and creative through the different programmes introduced in school.”
Strong Home-school Partnership
While infant care in the school is important, it is only one part of the equation. Parents play a crucial role in nurturing a child. That’s why a strong home-school partnership is highly beneficial to a child’s growth and development.
Educarers communicating and working with parents would allow them to better understand the child’s needs so as to individualise their curriculum. This would let educarers help infants hit their milestones based on their respective learning abilities and individual stages of development whilst making the most of their natural aptitude.
At Sparkletots, this partnership is essential. One way we connect parents and educarers is through our dedicated Parent Engagement Portal. The app serves as a platform for teachers and parents to share information about the child and at any time of the day. There, parents can also include important information such as their child’s dietary requirements and health concerns. Our educarers can even upload pictures of the child and will update whenever the child has eaten, taken their temperature and passed motion, for example, ensuring that parents are always in-the-know.
In addition, parent-teacher conferences are held at least twice a year for parents to further discuss habits and behaviours of their child, and for educarers to share about the child’s development — thus further strengthening the home-school partnership and improving the quality of care and education for infants in school and at home.
One parent who has benefitted from this partnership is Mrs Gwenda Teo , a first-time mum of a 22 month old daughter, Emerlyn, who appreciates that during parental engagement workshops, educarers would “share concepts on how to encourage learning and development in early childhood, as well as conduct activities for us parents to participate with our children.” She enthuses: “They also offer suggestions and ideas of games that we can play at home!”
Interested in safe, guided care and development for your infant? Register your interest with PCF Sparkletots today. Head over to www.pcf.org.sg/sparkletots/enrolment for more information and to locate a centre near you. We look forward to partnering you on your child’s journey towards a bright future!