Creators Awhi builds on the 14-rear foundation laid by New Zealand home-based education organisation “Footsteps”. In 2015 we, Creators Educational Trust, acquired Footsteps, and as of April 2016, we changed our name to “Creators Awhi!” Here are some success stories about our programme:
Fear of Bugs
"The twins are cared for by an uncle whilst Mum works on the farm. The uncle told me that the young boy had a fear of bugs. So to help him over come this fear I brought along magnifying glasses for him and his sister to use when they went on bug hunts. We also dug over the garden and found lots of snails, slugs and worms to explore. Books were left to support this interest and swan plants were grown.
The magnifying glasses were an amazing resource, they supported the disposition of curiosity and inquiry whilst developing a sense of courage. Now the twins enjoy discovering the awe and wonder of nature."
The important role of Educators
"Recently I had an educator who was wanting to help her child learn about letters and writing skills but she said another family member had told her "Your job is to love your child, you don't have the expertise to teach him that, that is for school." She just needed another point of view that as his main educator she was his first and most important teacher and that the love and care a child receives is intertwined with the learning. With a little guidance on how to make the learning fun and age appropriate, she was on her way confident in her role."
"In the home environment we rarely have time to talk with families and observe children from one month to the next. One child's language had stayed at the same stage for some time despite the educator implementing all the suggested strategies and providing an environment rich in language.
After discussing this together I was able to advocate on their behalf to the child’s social worker, that further assessments and support was needed. An initial assessment has now been completed and a hearing test scheduled, before seeing if a speech language therapist is needed.
Educators really appreciate that we advocate for the child and provide knowledge of when and where to seek help."
Learning how to play
"This young 3 year old boy had come from a home of severe family violence. He, along with his older sisters and brothers were in the care and protection of Child Youth and Family. Nan was the educator. When I first began working with him he did not have any understanding of how to play or how to talk. I made some suggestion to Nan about how to support his language development, such as repeating correctly back to him, what he is trying to say, playing sound games, reading books and keeping her sentences short and simple and lots of repetition. I also engaged a speech language therapist, however it took several months for her to come on board and when she finally did she was thrilled by the work that had already been done. She made a few suggestion and we only saw her twice.
I noticed on my very first visit that our wee boy was very interested in animals. I had brought along a set of wooden blocks for him to build with and we added animals particularly cows. I provided books on cows and suggested that Nan took him to visit the cows regularly.
As the months passed his language flourished, as did his ability to engage in play. He has a wonderful sense of humor, a great imagination and now speaks with clarity and precision. He starts school in a few months and I am confident that he will be confident and capable in this environment."
The value of specialised professional development
"I had been working with a young boy for a number of years and had noticed some things about his personality which indicated to me that some support would be needed. I engaged the support of Group Special Education, who visited him and decided that it was behavior suggesting that the educator do a parenting course. I was not convinced and kept searching for an answer. At one of our regional hui we engaged in some professional development for Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD).
When I learnt about this condition I began to make sense of what I had been seeing in this young boy. I encouraged CYF to have a gateway assessment completed, this took many months to organise and in the meantime the boy started school and experienced many difficulties. I encouraged CYF one last time to have the gateway assessment completed and finally it was done. The result was that the young boy was on the spectrum for FASD. What a relief for everyone. I was then able to provide the educator with some reading material on the condition and how she could work with her young boy to assist him in his learning."
"When I first started with Footsteps, I visited a family with three children under three (9mth old twins and a 2yr old.) Through observing one of the twins, I noticed he had an aversion towards sensory exploration. We started along our sensory journey by first introducing a balloon from a comfortable distance and revisiting it on a regular basis until it became more familiar. We introduced a spiky ball using the same technique, giving further support using 'hand on hand' approach as he gained courage to explore the spikes by himself.
This child was soon holding the ball with both hands, patting and running his soft palms across the spiky texture with confidence.
We slowly introduced individual items from the 'Heuristic' kete, again gaining familiarity with a variety of objects with many varied textures.
As the child’s sensory awareness progressed we then introduced playdough and gloop.
This child is now more responsive and receptive to sensory exploration. He approaches new experiences with a sense of curiosity and confidence. Our sensory journey is ongoing, so far with a positive and encouraging outcome."
"One of my educators shared with me that for baby’s first birthday they were taking him to Kelly Tarlton’s becuase he was showing an interest in fish.
To support this interest I bought a Kete and put sea creatures in it along with a book on fish. I shared with the educator that baby could have these outside in the dirt, in a bucket of water or he could play with them in the bath.
The educator has since shared with me that he often revisits this resource and enjoys taking them in the bath."
The value of First Aid
One of my educators shared with me that after attending the First Aid training course she sat with her whānau and talked about what she had learnt.
A few days later her teenage son was up north with whānau when a child injured himself. Because his mother had shared with him the skills she had learnt on the course, he was able to share with family members what was needed to help the young child.
"I visited with a young baby who was nine months old and had suffered multiple fractures to his body. He had a leg in a cast and suffered from night terrors along with being afraid of the bath.
Through a discussion with the educator we talked about different things that she could do. She started bathing with baby, and singing the same songs and doing the same routine each bath time so he became used to the routine and felt safe.
To encourage him to crawl I brought along a tunnel and talked with the educator about crawling with him through the tunnel and placing his favorite toys in the tunnel. He was very cautious but the educator persevered and he became confident with crawling through the tunnel and coming out the other end."
"When I started visiting a Footsteps educator caring for a child in her home, I observed that the toys where kept in the educator’s bedroom wardrobe. She would select a toy for the child and bring it into the lounge and give it to the child.
For the next visit I took along a cane basket and talked to the educator about the value of the child being able to access and select the toys herself. I explained that it is good for the child's self image for her to gain confidence in her ability to make decisions and choices. From then on the child's home-based care environment was more stimulating for her and she became a more alert and motivated child."
Hitting and discipline
"During a visit, a Footsteps child and the educator’s own child started to hit each other and the educator told them to stop fighting or she would give them both a smack.
I explained to her that telling them not to hit each other and then her hitting them is confusing for them. Also, I'm sure she would only hit them because she is not aware of better ways to do things and I was happy to support her with this.
I provided her with information and discussed with her 'inclusive time out' and 'token rewards'. I also provided her with 'Reward Charts'. I explained to her that we need to shift our thinking from punishment to 'rewards for good behaviour'. She was accepting and keen to give it a go.
On my last visit she commented that now that she isn’t threatening to hit them anymore, they are hitting each other less. Also, they are competing against each other to see who can get their reward first - so they are both being extra good! She said, "ever since you told me that telling them to stop hitting each other then me hitting them is confusing for them, that has had an effect on me and I often think about that statement."