Dream or trauma?

Dream or trauma?

Children in the sandbox © Harald Oppitz (KNA)

During the lockdown, children of system-relevant parents were cared for in so-called emergency groups. Was this state of emergency a burden? Daycare center director Gaby Walter talks about her observations in an interview.

Interviewer: Some daycare centers had completely closed during the lockdown. After all, there were nine children in the emergency group with you. How did you experience the parents during that time?

Gaby Walter (director of the Catholic Stiftskindergarten St. Remigius in Bonn): Of course, there was a certain disturbance due to this corona-related situation. The parents from system-relevant professions were really on the spot – I'd say on the front line. But in the course of time, a very extreme closeness to these families has developed. This was probably due to the situation that these parents were very involved and exposed to great risks, and on the other hand we were looking after their children.

There is a certain dependence in the moment. We were treated very sincerely and honestly. If a child had a cold, it was always clarified: Is it allowed to go to the kindergarten or not?? There was a very great openness.

Interviewer: They take care of the most valuable thing of the parents, namely their children. It takes a lot of trust to do that. Has the relationship between educators and parents changed with the pandemic compared to before??

Walter: I would almost say there is more closeness there. Although the parents are actually left out a bit. We have two gates in the kindergarten on the outdoor area. We pick up the children there and bring them back and hand them over to their parents. The parents themselves virtually do not enter the facility. Unless a child is in the settling-in phase.

Of course, this requires a different kind of work. One must work much more transparently. The parents are not in the facility. Then you also have to do trust work. You have to give a lot of information to the parents, sometimes you have to send pictures that the children have made, or videos. Other measures are already required than when parents enter the facility every day.

Interviewer: The nurses were applauded at that time. They themselves were basically Corona helpers, because they looked after the children. They probably weren't applauded, but somehow they were very grateful to you, weren't they??

Walter: Yes, I can definitely say that. It is really amazing, but the gratitude was very great and also the responsiveness of the parents and the openness. But I think that there was also a basis of trust beforehand. I think it's very important to note again that the trust had already been built up beforehand.

Interviewer: What was it like for the children in the emergency group?? It sounds a bit like they have suffered great hardship.

Walter: I have to laugh now. We also thought, the children come back from this lockdown and are certainly in distress somewhere, are insecure and have fears. We have not found it. We had a maximum of nine children in the emergency care. We even noticed that quiet and introverted children blossomed, precisely because there were only nine children. The educator had much more time. One could then also complete a play situation because there were fewer stimuli. Some of the children really benefited from being in this small group.

Interviewer: At some point the children all came back. To this day, parents basically have no access to the daycare center. But this is not as bad as it seems, or?

Walter: I think no. I had a parents' evening the day before yesterday, and a father asked me when we were talking about dropping off and picking up the children if this situation could not be continued after the Corona crisis.

We pick up the children, as I said, at the gate. We accompanied these children to the groups in the beginning. After a day or two, the children already wanted to go on their own. The children have much more backbone, independence, ego strength. They know that the handover takes place at the gate. Then they enter their kindergarten and the way they go alone. I am always a bit irritated because all the forecasts and considerations and fears that we had at that time have not come true in that way. We didn't have to reacclimate a single child and the children come to kindergarten with their heads held high to this day.

Interviewer: The Corona pandemic brought major cuts, claimed many lives, and plunged people into deep crises. Some things have simply resulted from the exceptional situation. Can you imagine that some of the positive developments actually stick with you?

Walter: This would have to be discussed together with the parents. In any case, the pain of separation that children used to experience when their parents are in the building with them is no longer as strong. I would consider that together with the parents. I myself also had Corona cases in the family. In my family, four people were sick with Corona, one of them life and death.

So I take this very seriously. Except I think we've been able to make different observations now. Observations we would never have been able to make otherwise. We must always start from the child. Perhaps we need to reconsider how far we change systems and adapt them to the needs of children.

The interview was conducted by Tobias Fricke.

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