The Y NSW prepares to celebrate OOSH Educators’ Day, reflecting on educator strengths
Children and families across the network of services operated by The Y NSW are gearing up to celebrate the strengths and achievements made by their educators via the inaugural OOSH (Outside of School Hours) Educators’ Day, to be held 29 July, recognising the “invaluable work of Educators at Outside School Hours Care (OSHC) centres across NSW”.
A spokesperson for the organisation explained that the day had been created to ensure the acknowledgement of this arm of the early childhood education and care (ECEC) profession, saying that OOSH educators are “one of the more forgotten sectors”.
For many families, it is an opportunity to thank the staff who stepped up and kept their OOSH services open throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
Children and families at the Y Oakhill Drive OSHC, where many families work in health and allied community services, are amongst the first to put their hands up and arrange something special for their educators.
Oakhill Drive Coordinator Nancy Rojas said that as well as seeing reduced numbers of children attending the centres during the initial height of the pandemic, some who attended were unfortunately quite stressed.
“The children are a reflection of their families and the world around them,” she said, explaining that while some families were relaxed and pragmatic about the changes in routine, some children “keep mentioning the pandemic because their families are concerned”.
Ms Rojas said whether COVID-19 was top of mind depended on the age of the children.
“In Kindy and Year 1, they seem to be more disconnected to the news, whereas Years 4 and 5 seem to know everything and like to bring those conversations,” she said.
“I’m sincere with them and try to talk honestly,” Ms Rojas said, noting that the service has “a time for hard conversations and mindfulness” where they are open to receiving whatever questions come.
Ms Rojas said the Oakhill educators were crucial to the success of any OSHC service, as children need to feel connected and understood to fully love a program.
Mickey Fraietta, 19, has been working as an Educator at Oakhill for a year, and said she loves working with the Kindergarten children.
“It’s been harder to do bigger activities that they like if we can’t do it safely with them (due to COVID-19 restrictions) or we don’t have enough kids.”
She said the children of those families who were working in healthcare settings seem to have coped with the changes more readily, coming to the service with an understanding of the importance of social distancing and other COVID-19 safety measures.
“Emotionally they have been frustrated not being able to connect with friends and being in care while their friends were at home. They feel excluded,” she explained.
The Y NSW chief executive Susannah Le Bron said that the insights, experience and compassion demonstrated by educators such as Ms Fraietta were the core of the OOSH offering provided by the organisation.
“Now more than ever we need to say thank you to our OSHC staff,” she said.
“We know how important it is to have Educators on board that deliver quality, diverse, fun, nurturing and safe before and after school care and vacation care,” Ms Le Bron added, saying that “throughout the unprecedented times of COVID-19, our Y Educators and other childcare professionals have been an essential service on the coalface caring for our children.”
Ms Le Bron thanked Nancy, Mickey and all the OSHC Educators out there for “caring, inspiring, protecting and encouraging our kids”.
A range of resources are available to download in support of celebrating OOSH Educators Day, which may be accessed here.