This conference took place on April 8th and with the nature of the changing advice, be aware that any specific advice relating to government policy may be out of date at the time of reading. For updated advice and guidance, head to the Famly Corona Hub.
To help you get straightforward and reliable answers to your questions on the coronavirus pandemic and its impact, this month at Famly we ran the UK’s first free digital conference on coronavirus and how the early years industry can respond.
One of the three sessions focused on home learning during the lockdown. During this session, we spoke to early years experts Dr Sue Allingham and Ruth Swailes all about how settings and parents can set realistic expectations and get home learning right during closure. You can check out the key points below or watch the full Famly Sessions event on-demand here.
How can you set realistic expectations of what can be achieved from home?
Ruth and Sue explain that in the same way as you and your team are likely to be finding this a very difficult time, so too are parents. So while it’s a great idea to provide plenty of resources and opportunities to connect, you should emphasise that nothing is compulsory and not set a strict timetable, instead, parents and children should work together on what they’re able to do.
Sue goes on to discuss how there’s so much that can be done outside the traditional areas of reading, writing and maths. Lots of learning opportunities actually happen through the natural interactions that happen between families in everyday life. Activities as straightforward as choosing what to wear, helping to decide what to eat for lunch, reading a book, or watching a film together and discussing it can help in a range of the EYFS areas. The bottom line for parents and their children? Talk, talk, talk!
What role does technology play during this period?
As technology has become a bigger part of our lives, so too has it increasingly been criticised, with many people aiming to keep their own, and their children’s screen time to a minimum. However during this time, many people will be finding their time spent on digital devices to be on the rise. Ruth argues that this isn’t something to feel guilty about though as it provides a way to connect with others and also a range of learning opportunities for the children.
Nonetheless, there are concerns and safeguarding issues in relation to GDPR as well as the worrying trend of ‘Zoom Bombing’. As such it’s important to assess the risks and consider the different options available to you.
How can you ensure reopening goes well?
Reopening, whenever it happens will be a challenging process for everyone involved.
For some children this will have been a fantastic period where they’ve grown closer to their parents and had a range of engaging learning opportunities. But unfortunately for many others, this lockdown will have been a very difficult time with parents unable, for many different reasons, to provide an optimal home learning environment.
Sue recommends, if possible, to treat reopening in the same way as you would when taking on new children. You can do this by staggering the return so that the children come in groups, rather than a full class and you run half sessions. Concurrently, it’s worth spending some time understanding each child and how they might have changed by observing and discussing with the parents.
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