During the first lockdown in March last year, we were only able to open for key worker and vulnerable children, 36 of our 300 children on roll. We understood how difficult it was for parents of younger children who are full of energy to keep them occupied whilst possibly doing home schooling with older children.
Since 1st June 2020 we have been able to remain open for all children and have been very encouraged by the number of children who are attending, a testament to how safe parents feel using our service. There are however still some parents who are anxious about bringing their child to nursery or are currently shielding.
These are just some of the ways we have supported our families during the pandemic:
Home learning resources – we have developed a range of resources including craft activities, bingo games, resources to encourage language development, books, and toys. We discuss with the parent and the child’s key worker what we think they would enjoy and provide a resource bag which is changed weekly. Where needed we drop these resource bags off at families’ homes.
Help if isolating – if parents are unable to leave the house due to isolating and have little or no local support, we take them what they need including, food, cleaning products and toiletries. There is usually a little treat in there too!
Special Sunday story sessions – we know our children did not only miss nursery but missed family as well and Sunday was probably the day they would usually visit other family members. Our staff started a weekly reading of their favourite books which was posted on Facebook on Sundays at 2pm. This was so well received that some of our ex-children and even one of our 3-year-olds got involved, it really was very special.
Themed days – particularly during the first lockdown we took part in themed days and asked parents at home to take part and send us pictures, you can see examples of these on our Facebook page. Days usually involved dressing up, which is one of our very favourite things to do. Themed days included rainbow day, beach day, birthday party for Captain Sir Tom, animal safari, VE Day celebrations and we even had our own Olympic games.
Motivation – we have all struggled at times to stay positive during the pandemic so we created a number of themes through Facebook that families could engage with, this included ‘what we are grateful for’, ‘what we love doing’, ‘what/who inspires us’ and ‘what are we most looking forward to'. Families really engaged with us and created a real sense of togetherness.
Online resources – we have consistently posted links to online activities for younger children, we always check that the resource meets with our ethos and that there is not a requirement to subscribe or pay to access.
We very much looking forward to when this is over and all of our children return, but in the meantime we believe we have offered a very good alternative.