What we did:
At Sunflower we pride ourselves in the supportive and nurturing relationships we hold with our children, families and wider community. During lockdown our absolute priority was to ensure families still had access to ongoing daily support. We wanted to ensure learning continued through play in the home. High support and low stress for families was our aim. We achieved this through weekly phone calls to families, including traffic light system tracking. We used an individualised approach – some families wanted to chat more frequently.
Our Facebook Page supported our own families and the wider community. Every day we provided fun, learning experiences in the form of movies created by all staff. Daily challenges included:
- Make it Monday (STEM)
- Talking Tuesday (Language and Communication)
- Wake Up Wednesday (Physical Health)
- Thinking Thursday (Problem Solving)
- Fun Friday (children and families learning and having fun together)
- Singing Saturday
- Signing Sunday (followed on from our sign of the week prior to lockdown)
- We shared stories twice a day including a bedtime story – we had many different storytellers, including grandparents who could not see their grandchildren.
- We carried out weekly garden visits delivering STEM learning bags, e.g. making a kazoo. All resources were supplied. Responsive planning ensured that learning was planned, taking children’s interests into account.
Who we involved:
This involved all staff including EYOs, SLT, Clerical Assistants. The team worked closely together to ensure a high level of support for our families. Children shared their learning - messaging our page each day with photographs and videos. During the afternoon a celebration movie was posted which captured the children’s achievements.
The difference it made:
For many of our families, Sunflower is more than a provision for our children - it’s a safe space for families to socialise, learn new skills, have fun and chat through their worries. Our approach to our time in lockdown ensured that all of these areas were acknowledged and support was put in place where needed. Feedback suggested that families felt supported daily. We ensured that emotional needs of families were met as well as physical, basic needs. Nappy and food parcels supported our families who needed help financially. Families enjoyed phone calls from staff and commented that having conversations with another adult helped them through the day making them feel less isolated.
Families were provided with ideas to facilitate play experiences for their children at home. The learning and progress that was shared with us was heartening to see! We forged strong, trusting relationships with families whom we perhaps knew less well e.g. parents who we did not always see at drop off/pick up due to work commitments or those parents who felt more at ease chatting on the phone. Many of our families felt a little lighter, happier and in a more positive place to support their children as a result of the supports put in place.
What we will do differently in the future:
In Sunflower FNC we value the strong relationships we hold with families and community. Lockdown strengthened relationships and made us think creatively about how we do things. It encouraged us to look at the experiences we offer and consider how we could provide these rich learning opportunities in a way to comply with the Covid-19 guidance, e.g. Our Spanish Café is now a take-away; children still create the menu and bake goodies to sell. Children now speak to their parent on the phone to take their order and make up their takeaway bag for collection.
The period of lockdown also highlighted the skills our parents hold and how they support us in their child’s learning journey, e.g. one parent sharing her signing skills by signing on our Facebook page. Our families supported us during lockdown as well as us supporting them.
Many of our children continued to experience high quality learning during the lockdown period and progress continued to be made. We need to continually have an understanding of children who may not have access to such rich learning opportunities out with the ELC, to ensure we support these children with access to a wide variety of experiences within the setting.