Staying Connected Together During Periods of National Lockdown
The academic session 2020-2021 has been challenging for a multitude of reasons for pupils, parents and teachers across the globe. Children’s learning at every stage has taken a different form and, at an impressive rate, we have all acquired new technological skills as we endeavoured to stay in contact with life and with learning.
Regular Live Contact with Nursery Families During Lockdown
For the teachers, practitioners, parents and children of St George’s Nursery our experience was no different. From the outset, the nursery team believed strongly in maintaining the feeling of contact and communication with our preschool and ante preschool children. Within the early years, attachments and bonds made with key adults are essential elements of development and learning experiences. We believed that, for our youngest learners and their families, knowing that there was an opportunity for regular contact with their nursery teachers and friends would be of enormous benefit to overall emotional and social wellbeing.
Responding to Parents' Needs and Focusing on Key Curricular Areas
Our nursery teachers and practitioners worked together in the early stages of both national lockdowns to identify key curricular areas of learning for each group of children. This formed the foundation of our distance learning programme for the early years. We listened to our parents and knew the aspects of home learning that worked well and developed those that were needed.
Common Mindset in Whole Nursery Community
We developed our distance learning programme in conjunction with our provision of key worker childcare which operated for key worker families throughout each period of lockdown. In this way, we could ensure that the learning experiences of the children were shared and there was a common mindset developing throughout our whole nursery community.
A montage of some of our Nursery Supported Home Learning lessons
- We developed themed plans bursting with ideas and suggestions for activities to do at home with young children intended as guides for parents. We knew that each family would have their own experience of learning from home and that the distance learning programme we developed would need to be adaptable and flexible for every child’s needs.
- Our teachers and practitioners recorded activities covering all areas of the curriculum for our children. We shared these with our families using their child’s Learning Journals page. Some activities could take place outside while others were more suited to indoors. All could be adaptable for home and for the materials that children would have available to them at home. As well as providing a link to an activity we felt this also provided a link with much loved adults on screen too.
- We were fortunate that our whole school specialist teachers were keen to be involved. We were grateful to be able to share high quality teaching lessons and outcomes from our teachers of primary Music and PE as well as a weekly library rhyme time story session.
- We found that our children benefitted greatly from the opportunity to participate in live calls with the nursery team throughout each week. We held two different versions of these calls. One was a general morning welcome for any age of child and the other was a more focused, small group call for the nursery teacher to extend the children’s learning at home with targeted lessons in numeracy and literacy.
When the Scottish Government lifted the national lockdown restrictions for early years in February we were delighted to be able to welcome all our children back to the nursery once more. While we had missed those who had been at home enormously the nursery team felt that, using our distance learning programme, they had maintained an invaluable connection with these children. We noticed that the children were confident and comfortable to return to nursery – many bounced through the doors, happy to see their teachers and friends on their first morning of the new term.
It felt very symbolic to us that as the season was changing from Winter to Spring, and new life was blossoming in nature all around us across our school campus, our nursery community was bursting with children’s activity, sound and laughter once more. We are grateful for these shared times together, at this important stage of friendship and fun in a child’s life, when we can once again be a full part of this time of adventure and possibility in our children’s futures.