2020 marked 125 years of KU providing high quality early childhood education and care to children and families. Throughout our 125-year history, few years have provided as much uncertainty and challenged our perception of what educational excellence looks like, as 2020.

While KU took on an organisational approach to COVID-19, each KU service also needed to respond in unique ways to meet the specific needs and concerns of their community. Many services developed highly innovative ways to support their children, families and staff.

The simple process of arrival and departure of children was adapted to address logistical challenges, such as social distancing and the need to reduce the number of adults entering the services. Familiar staff members became the Concierge, greeting families at the door and accompanying children to their playroom. With many children staying at home, services quickly adapted their educational programs to support remote learning, and maintain relationships between children and their educators, and with families and friends.

Some services created resources and play-based activity packs for children to use at home. Digital platforms, such as Storypark, were used to deliver unique interactive learning experiences. Many children and families participated in online storytelling, singing, dancing and group time activities created by their educators.

During the height of the pandemic, KU Milperra Preschool used Storypark to implement a ‘Weekly Preschool Connect’ program to maintain communication and connections with children and families. Educators at the preschool recorded story time, music time and yoga and relaxation activities, so children and families could participate and interact at home.

“We realised how important it was for the children and their families to stay connected to preschool, friends and educators while they were not attending the service. Through being able to view and join in group time experiences at home with their families, children continued to feel a sense of belonging and familiarity in a time where so much changed for so many,” said KU Milperra Director, Stacey Gabrych.

To nurture relationships with the children and families who were not attending the centre as usual, the educators at KU Isobel Pulsford Preschool organised a drive-by “hello and goodbye”. Families were invited to drive by the preschool while the educators waited on the footpath to greet them and send them messages. The staff made posters and decorated the preschool, and the children who were still attending preschool blew giant bubbles and enjoyed small exchanges with their friends.

“It was an opportunity for the children to reconnect with their educators, and for the educators to see the children in person for the first time in a long time. It was an incredibly special morning and a memory for us all to treasure,” said KU Isobel Pulsford Director, Kelly Slip.

While the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges, we were very proud of how each service embraced the opportunity to explore new and innovative ways of delivering high quality early childhood education and care.