Each month, Jackie Hardie, owner of The Nursery, gives advice and guidance on aspects of parenting. Drawing on almost three decades working with early years children, including roles as a Reception teacher and an Ofsted inspector, running an international education consultancy, and of course, being a parent, Jackie gives down-to-earth and practical advice.
This month, Jackie focuses on the new normal for early years children during the global pandemic.
After weeks of being at home in a small family unit children have started returning to school and nursery. Even though it’s not school or nursery as they knew it before, children are pretty resilient and as long as the adults around them are positive about the situation I believe the children will be too.
Our aim at The Nursery is to provide a place where the children can come for some normality and familiarity and the environment here continues to be filled with warmth and affection.
We have explained to parents that we couldn’t promise social distancing, if a child becomes distressed for any reason they need comforting. We have however introduced numerous new systems and procedures to keep the children as safe as possible. Parents are now dropping their children off at the door or at the garden door, they are not coming inside. Temperature checks are a regular occurrence, there is a lot of hand washing going on, santisers are everywhere and the staff have clean material apron uniforms provided to put on every morning.
Despite the changes in place, which we worked on very carefully for weeks prior to reopening, the children and their care and wellbeing will always be at the very heart of everything we do.
The nursery team had missed the children and the children had missed us, they flew through the door on their first day back and couldn’t wait to begin playing. They are currently learning and playing in small groups with the same practitioners and there is plenty of outdoor learning.
It’s surprising the understanding of the current situation the children are showing. Those as young as two years of age understand we need to wash our hands more often because of germs and a new virus. We have introduced the children to PPE so they are not afraid of it. In fact I wrote a book called Pants On My Face? to help the younger children understand the need for facemasks. After all, if they had previously never come in to contact with a surgical type face mask they could be forgiven for thinking people have started wearing pants on their faces! In the story the children label the masks germ blockers. The staff regularly act the play out for the children, using our familiar nursery character toys and it’s gone down a storm. The children are really engaging with it which prompted me to publish the book so that we can share it with others. It’s available on Amazon priced £5.99.
For children who have not yet returned to The Nursery we continue to provide weekly learning activities online for all ages. We began this on day one of the restrictions to ensure parents and carers had access to familiar nursery songs and activities as well as continuing with the children’s development. Our private Facebook group has also allowed nursery families to share their lockdown experiences and with the use of photos and videos, the children have been able to see their friends as well as the nursery team.
Our nursery is actually licensed for the care and learning for children up to the age of eight, so we are looking at ways we can help families who need childcare during school breaks for children in this age group. We will be doing this in addition to the service we already provide and assure parents of our nursery families this will not affect the children already attending our nursery.