When I look at the teachers at Kids Forever Christian Preschool, I see kind, yet strong, adventurous, and nurturing people. Kids Forever create an environment that stimulates curiosity and you just know, that when you step through that door, that the teachers pour out an immense amount of love upon their children.
And leading up to the New Zealand lockdown, I could feel the anxiety levels rising in the community. We would push the swings at the park in silence, as we nervously tapped at our phones for updates from Jacinda. When the media shouted headlines that would make us anxious and doubt our decisions, Teacher Sarah stood at the helm, rallying her teachers alongside her and pushed back at uncertainty. We made the choice, to keep sending our son to kindy, to have some sense of normality. And every time I swayed by the growing concern around COVID19, I came back to the same conclusion. That continuing to send our son to Kids Forever while the government allowed us to do so, (while it's not for every family,) it was the best decision for our family.
And then the New Zealand lockdown abruptly fell upon us.
After an awkward transition of combining home learning and working from home, we followed a new loose COVID-19 schedule that held life together JUST. Even in isolation, Kids Forever continued to be that positive light. Every day, videos have been posted through our Facebook group with teachers sharing stories, science experiments, songs, crafts and exercise. It has been a joy for our children as well as an amazing relief for us parents! (How do we stop the Mum guilt?!?!?) Especially when some days are consumed by work and you've only interacted with your child out of necessity.
A notification pops up and I am quick to yell "There are more Kids Forever videos! Do you want to see what your teachers are up to?" Then he's sorted.
When I look back on the last two and a half years, I can still recall my son's first day. With a determined walk and an oversized backpack, he marched right into kindy. Without looking back. I think I may have been more nervous than he was. Gradually, I got into the swing of pickups and drop-offs and soon noticed I was being greeted by the other children. Man, these kids are friend-ly, as well as being super diverse in ethnicity. Plus families had come from all over Auckland to bring their kids especially. Kids Forever had an outstanding reputation.
A reputation that helped me to realise that my kid was not just a number here.
There was evidence all around me. The children’s artwork and anecdotes showcased on the walls. One memorable saying was when the kids were learning about natural disasters. In order to escape a tsunami, my son stated "you need to catch a train and go up a hill." I’ve also seen him develop his interest in building and make his first “beautiful creation” by hot glue gun in the four-year-olds section. The outdoor covered playground was also a hit for those rainy days, as well as the sandpit for those construction lovers. I also have fond memories of the “Tui room” at pick-up. My son jumps out of the cluster of kids amidst storytime and bursts into my arms telling me all about his adventures of the day. In later times, it was always a mission to get him out of there. He would just ignore me because he was having too much fun. His laugh would get lost in the crowd of giggles. .
I’m thankful for all the preparation and biblical teachings that went into him and I can’t wait to collect his portfolio, which summarises his entire time at Kids Forever. Such an awesome takeaway and treasure to look back on, with key learnings and photographs to capture his time here. There’s no doubt in my mind that Kids Forever goes above and beyond for the children. Even for my son who cannot use hand sanitiser due to his eczema, the kindy created a system in which when the sanitiser is used, he would also get his moisturiser (in a bottle pump dispenser), all so he didn’t feel left out.
Today Jacinda Ardern announced the guidelines of how Level 2 will look. Next week New Zealand will move down from Level 3, but only if it is deemed safe to do so. I pray that children and parents find a sense of normality returning. A sense that yes, we can go sit in our local restaurant or café (while still social distancing), and that we can emerge this with a kinder outward perspective to life. That we as a community, have a sense of confidence to send our children back to school.
Some say, it's maybe a little too soon.
Whether we move to Level 2 or not, it's probably a good idea to start thinking about having some conversations around care for your children. If you are looking for somewhere to send your kid because we've kicked this virus, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Sarah. She’d love to talk with you.😊
Edit: There are so many super teachers out there, please thank them when your children return to their care or school. I know for one, I have a greater appreciation for ALL teachers, now that we have had to homeschool during lockdown. Love to all.