Communicating with families and the community
Preparing for a local lockdown
Local lockdowns in Leicester, Greater Manchester and Lancashire remind us that the virus is still a clear and present danger and that the government will impose local restrictions quickly where the evidence shows it to be necessary.
In the worst-case scenario, going back into lockdown is likely to affect the morale of staff who have worked so hard to create a safe environment, and parents who have made the big decision to send their child back but now find they are not eligible for a prioritised place.
In this blog post, Melanie Pilcher outlines measures you can take and things you should be communicating to parents and families if infection rates start to creep up in your area.
Conducting visits to settings in times of social distancing
How can early years providers welcome and connect with prospective parents in these times of social distancing, staggered start times and strict guidance?
Richard Knight from the Early Years Alliance North of England Service Hub has some tips in this blog post.
How to do settling-in sessions during the coronavirus outbreak
The common settling-in process might involve lots of short visits and play sessions so that parents, carers, practitioners and child can all get to know each other and share that all-important information before the child starts with you.
But it is inevitable that just like everything else, settling-in sessions will need to look different in this new way of life we are all adjusting to.
Read our blog post which is full of tips and ideas of how to settle in children in these times of social distancing.
Playing and learning at home
The Alliance has produced a variety of resources to help families continue their children's learning and development at home during the summer months.
There are more than 100 videos of songs, rhymes, activity sessions and children's cooking sessions plus videos specifically to help parents nurture their children's development.
Please feel free to share the link with your families.
Alliance member Maureen Dyroff from Jack and Jill Pre-school in Oxfordshire got in touch with the Alliance to share how her team has been keeping in touch with their families during lockdown. They have been sending useful information and weekly themes and activities to continue the learning through the EYFS, through their electronic record keeping system. They also post on their facebook page.
Maureen also shared this lovely poem that one of her staff wrote - a really personal way of sharing some activity ideas while maintaining connection between children and their key workers.
Talking to children about coronavirus
It is inevitable that even very young children will pick up on the levels of anxiety around them about the virus, even if they do not fully understand the context of the current situation.
Therefore, it is important that early years practitioners respond to any concerns that children express in a sensitive and age-appropriate manner.
- The Children's Commissioner has created a free, downloadable Children's Guide to Coronavirus. The guide aims to answer children’s questions about coronavirus, tell children how to stay safe and protect other people and how to help them make the best of their time at home.
- The Alliance also has a blog post you can read called How to talk to children about coronavirus.
- There are government guidelines on COVID-19: supporting children and young people’s mental health and wellbeing.
The government has published guidance for parents in which it says on the issue of parent fees during closures:
"We are asking providers to be reasonable and balanced in their dealings with parents".
As with any widespread infection that could pose a threat to their children, parents may be understandably concerned.
Social media and word-of-mouth in a community can sometimes be a source of misinformation, particularly if you hear of cases of coronavirus locally.
You can reassure parents who are worried by sharing up-to-date information and advice from reliable sources.
While you will probably have your own social media policies in place, it would be sensible to advise any staff - whether working or furloughed - to refrain from sharing sensitive information online which may cause undue distress or unnecessary concern.
It is important to note that any content shared on social networking sites could potentially end up in the public domain, even if it appears to be ‘private’ or is on a closed profile or group.
Your staff should always be aware of wider implications of sharing such information in their personal networks.