Schools and Early Years settings of all shapes and sizes have spent the last week rapidly adjusting to new guidelines, expectations and responsibilities. The children now attending will only be those of Key Workers or those in vulnerable groups. Meaning many children are at home.
Every situation will be different, but it is likely that staff will be continuing to teach and learn with the children who are attending their setting while also thinking about how best to support the development of the children who are at home.
There will be huge challenges to staying connected with a child’s learning when they are no longer with you.
In the Early Years, the fundamentals of in the moment planning, sustained shared thinking and starting with the child’s interests retreat in the face of remote learning. How can educators meet individual children’s needs in this new learning landscape?
There is also the steep learning curve of new technology – the tool that can facilitate the way you reach children and families. For lots of staff this will be new, and even those staff who are tech-confident will be adapting to using technology to teach and learn remotely.
Educators will be concerned about the equality of provision. Every family is unique, every situation different. Some will have access to technology, some won’t. Some will be actively participating in their child’s home learning and development, (some may be very keen!), but there will be many reasons why some parents will not. Staff will be aware that the resources they have in their setting will not be available to most children and families at home.
Staff at settings and schools will also be experiencing separation. They may be working in organised ‘hubs’ – with one team on the premises and one ready to swap at home. There may be concerns over staff shortages if some have to remain at home to self-isolate. Some settings may be pooling resources with those nearby. The nature of teamwork, how to have conversations about children who are not with you and how to support each other will be changing.
These are just a few of the challenges, and there is so much change.
Things to remember:
You already have a lot of knowledge about your children and families.
You already have relationships with children and their families and now you are building on those in a new way.
Find ways to help children who are at home feel ‘kept in mind’ by key workers. Stay connected.
Reassure parents and carers that they are home learning – learning with their children rather than becoming their teacher.
Remind parents and carers that the basics of everyday life contain learning opportunities – doing the washing, making a meal, washing up. This is especially true for early years children.
Help parents to remember that home should still be home, and family comes first. They may be feeling overwhelmed by the perceived expectation that they will now be educating their child as well as coping with other worries and pressures.
Remember to look after yourself and your team.
Edited by Jules