Pay it Forward: How a little kindness may be just what ECEC needs right now
The concept of “paying it forward” – noticing something kind someone has done for you, and then doing something kind for someone else – is not a new one. People have been paying it forward for many years, with the movement re-surging 20 years ago inspired by a movie of the same name.
As the world in general, and the early childhood education and care (ECEC) sector more broadly, is challenged by a world which is confusing and increasingly closed, The Sector reached out to Jay Reynolds, founder of Pay it Forward in Childcare, a Facebook group that seeks to connect up those in need with those who may have ways of helping one another deal with challenging supply issues facing the sector currently.
Ms Reynolds has been working in the ECEC sector since 2001, and was motivated to start the group because of what she termed “many changes in society” which have had a disproportionate, often negative, impact on children and their families.
“Lately the transformation of the childcare structure, globalisation, shifting employment patterns and a structure of social well-being has been increasingly weak in many countries, and those elements will have an impact on educators all across Australia” she said.
During times of challenge, such as the current COVID 19 situations, these changes are keenly felt, and as such, Ms Reynolds sought to create “a starting point to receive or swap supplies and donations, and help get back on our feet and provide children in their centres the continuous care and education their families have depended on.”
Many group members have a heightened focus on finding more efficient ways of making the most of what is presently available, finding it “very hard to buy staples for themselves, let alone the children in their care” Ms Reynolds explained.
As well as practical assistance by sharing resources amongst themselves, those in the group are sharing advice about how to prepare meals with ingredients they may not be familiar with, or suggestions on calming worried parents and educators.
The group, however, is not just for sharing ideas and supplies. Ms Reynolds has also found that it is fast becoming a place where educators and others in the ECEC sector can support one another emotionally. Services who are unable to offer goods might instead offer their services.
“It can be difficult to know how to reach out to those who need and want help” she continued.
“Offering to clean toys or equipment for an hour a day could make a significant change in an early childhood environment. Swapping something you have a lot of for something you need, or donating extra items you may have accrued is a simple way to pay it forward.”
While donations are appreciated, there’s one simple way that every ECEC professional can be involved, regardless of where they are.
“Everyone is affected by this, and as a result, things are becoming harder than ever now. Donations are always appreciated but in lieu of those, being able to connect with fellow professionals and help each other through the extraordinary times is a real gift” Ms Reynolds said in closing.
To learn more about Pay It Forward in Childcare, please see here.