Outside School Hours Research Hub

Vignette 8 – Signing in and out

Gigi was excited when her mother arrived to collect her from Central City OSHC. She had soccer training in 30 minutes and was keen to get going. Gigi watched as her mother signed her out of the program. “Hurry, we need to go”, said her mother. “Hang on”, said Gigi, “You signed out the wrong person!” Gigi pointed to the attendance sheet and showed her mother that she had signed out one of her friends by mistake. Her mother quickly fixed the mistake and they headed off to soccer.

The next morning at before school care, Gigi said to the OSHC coordinator, Carlos, “I think I should be able to sign myself out. Mum always makes mistakes.” Dale first response was to thank Gigi for her idea but say no. “It’s the regulations Gigi” said Dale. “Parents have to do the signing out.” After the children had gone to school, Carlos began to think more about Gigi’s suggestion. Gigi was in Year 6 and one of the older children. He wondered if there was a way she might be able to help.

That afternoon, Carlos asked Gigi if she had any ideas about how she and the other children could help with sign in and out. Carlos explained the regulatory requirements to Gigi but said if she and the other children could come up with suggestions he would consider them. Gigi told the other children about her idea and they loved it. The children suggested adding an extra column to the attendance sheet for the children to sign alongside their parent. They suggested this would be a good way for the children to check that their parents had signed them out correctly.

Carlos thought it was a great idea and put it into action the next week. Whilst it was still compulsory for parents to sign children in and out, it was optional for their child. Carlos was excited to see that most of the children wanted to be involved in the new routine. He even noticed that the new routine had resulted in less errors and therefore better record keeping.

Outcome 1: Children and young people have a strong sense of identity

A strong identity is essential for children’s wellbeing. As children get older, they experience increasing confidence and capacity for independence. Carlos reminded himself of this after initially rejecting Gigi’s suggestion for a child’s sign in and out sheet. Whilst the children could not be legally responsible for signing themselves in and out, he saw no reason why they could not contribute to the process. By supporting children to participate in the attendance routine, Carlos gave the children additional opportunities to see themselves as capable and independent. For the older children in particular, it allowed them to see themselves as older and able to assume more responsibility.

Outcome 2: Children and young people are connected with and contribute to their world

“As children and young people participate collaboratively in everyday routines, events and experiences and have opportunities to contribute to decisions, they learn to live interdependently” (MTOP, p41).  

This vignette provides an example of how Carlos and the other educators collaborated with children to find a new way for them to contribute to routines. Carlos recognised Gigi’s citizenship and belonging in the OSHC community.  He respected Gigi’s right to contribute to the service’s routines, even for a routine that was normally reserved for adults. This helped to make Gigi feel a sense of belonging. By trusting Gigi and her friends to come up with a good solution, Carlos helped them to feel trusted, capable and valued as citizens.  

Trusting children to participate in decisions allows children to feel a sense of community. By giving children some responsibility for signing in and out, Carlos realised that their contributions were helpful. The children realised this also and that by helping with the routine they were able to demonstrate care for other community members like the educators and their parents.

Outcome 5: Children and young people are effective communicators

“Communication is essential for interacting with the world and others. Children and young people use their communication skills, particularly as listeners and speakers, to engage in relationships with others” (MTOP, p60). 

There are some forms of communication that we mistakenly think of as ‘only for adults’. One of these is administrative forms of communication. Administrative communication is an essential part of OSHC work. We use administrative processes to communicate with families, schools, regulatory authorities and each other. Children can also participate in administrative communications. In this vignette, Carlos re-imagined the sign in and out routine at Central City OSHC, giving children the opportunity to contribute. It provided a valuable way for the children to learn about administrative processes and their importance for OSHC staff. The revised routine also gave children and young people a difference way to communicate with adults. 

Invitation: OSHC Research Study

We want to understand what OSHC educators know about children’s mental health and how they currently help children with emotional and behavioural needs.

If you are an Australian OSHC educator who works with primary school-aged children, we invite you to take part in our study.