What we did:
We created a private Facebook page to maintain links with families. We understood that maintaining relationships would be key to supporting families during lockdown and to help support smooth transitions back into nursery. Staff interacted daily with children and posted photos of the staff team, a variety of videos of staff, live storytelling at bedtime, activity ideas, videos of new procedures and new entry/exits in preparation for returning to nursery etc. Staff video called children to maintain the relationship and bond between children and keyworkers as we knew this was vital in supporting everyone during this period. Staff used this page to hold a week long virtual celebration for our school leavers and ended the week with a visit to each child's house with their graduation gifts - this also allowed for photos with the graduation cap and gowns. Staff created individual messages for each child and shared them on the page during this week too.
Who we involved:
This involved input from our whole staff team and our children and families from our nursery community.
The difference it made:
This helped to keep children and families connected with the nursery during times of isolation. Children could connect with nursery staff and friends and helped to keep relationships positive and nurturing throughout the whole period. Families were offered support and advice and children were kept in contact with their key workers. Nursery remained a familiar place for children and staff remained familiar figures for the children. This resulted in children returning to nursery post lockdown with confidence and excitement. Parents comments include:
"It was a hard time and by keeping in touch it made things a lot easier. It helped keep the connection alive".
"The regular contact meant she was really excited about getting back to nursery".
"As a result the transition back to nursery was much easier".
"It was fantastic for sharing ideas and keeping nursery real for the girls".
"Let him see his friends and keep the link going".
"It helped have conversations with my child - a video or pic of the girls was much easier at that age to talk around and you could see from her reactions that she was remembering and recalling. I believe it helped keep her association & connections with the staff going".
"It was a useful resource to help break up those days, as a parent, when you felt there was nothing left in the tank and you'd ran out of ideas!"
"The calls with her keyworker were really beneficial - you could just see the emotional reaction in my child at seeing her and chatting.... I wish I could have bottled it..."
"I absolutely believe that all of the work made the return back easier as it broke up the time in between leaving and returning by stimulating the emotions that the kids associate with the staff and the atmosphere".
"The page was a vital connection- considering the huge upheaval that happened for everyone, your consistency really helped us settle during lockdown as we could continually refer to nursery even though the routine had completely changed. As parents, we were having to adjust in our own workplace, so to know our child was “taken care of” in terms of him coping with change was a huge relief for us".
"The route back into “normal” nursery in August was hugely helpful as the effort put into forging connections and quality relationship building made the transition back into a routine much more steady and not too much of a shock. The videos showing the staff and the routes into the building were really vital in helping him picture what would happen and cope with all the Covid-19 changes".
"As a platform, Facebook page came into its own as people shared wee pictures of what they were up to in lockdown, it fostered that sense of community and meant he could see his pals and chat about them".
What we will do differently in the future:
We already knew the value of connections and relationships but can really see the impact our efforts had on the children and families. We will continue to look for creative ways of supporting families, especially during this period when parents/carers are not allowed inside the nursery.
Our Facebook page is now used as a community platform for sharing daily photos of the children - around 150 photos shared roughly each day. This acts as a great communication tool for parents to chat with their children each night and is fostering a real sense of togetherness whilst we continue through this Covid-19 recovery period. Parents comment on the photos to each other and there is a real sense of belonging, friendships and togetherness amongst our nursery family.