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Image of Coronavirus: Supporting parents and children who are staying at home.

Coronavirus: Supporting parents and children who are staying at home.

Are any of your children absent from your setting because they are having to self-isolate with their parents? Perhaps their parents are choosing to keep their children at home while the coronavirus rates are so high around the country? As childcare providers we need to be making sure we are still delivering high quality care even if it is from afar.

From talking to our childminders and parents over the pandemic, it is clear that so many families have been drastically affected by the situation coronavirus has presented for them. This may be financially, emotionally, perhaps they have been unwell themselves or suffered the loss of a loved one? There are a multitude of ways that families have found themselves struggling and not everyone’s vulnerability is outwardly obvious. While we are all navigating the same storm, we are certainly not all in the same boat with each and every family’s circumstances being different.

As childcare providers, we must not take for granted the pressures some families are under; the most ‘put-together’ mother may be frantically paddling beneath the surface. So it is our duty to offer support to all our families, particularly to those who are keeping their children at home.

What can key workers do to support the children who are staying at home?

1. Video yourself reading a story to the children:

Not only will this enable the children to have contact with you but it might also allow their parent/carer a short break! Regular contact via videos, facetime or messages will help nurture the bond between you and your key children so that when they return to your setting they will settle much easier. If the child is old enough, why not ask them to complete a simple task that they could do independently, like drawing a picture of a character from the story you read. Their adult could photograph it and send it back to you.

2. Prepare activity / resource packs:

Don’t assume all families have an abundance of toys and drawing resources at home. Making up little activity and resource packs could make all the difference to families. A little pot of playdoh, some paper, pens or pencils? A colouring book or reading book? You know your key children so fill the pack with things you know they will enjoy. These packs don’t need to be expensive to put together.

3. Set challenges to do at home:

Send the children some challenges to help parents think of activities to do with their children, for instance, hunt around your home for anything that begins with the letter ‘s’ - perhaps they could send you a video/voice message with their findings? Think of a challenge for everyone in the setting to take part in, for instance, build, draw or make a robot – ask families to send in their photographs to share with the group.

4. Virtual birthday parties:

 Arrange for the children at the setting to have a virtual party when it is a child’s birthday. Zoom conference meeting plans are free for up to 40 minutes (more than enough time for a little one!). Sing happy birthday, wave at your friends will surely cheer up any isolated birthday!

5. Talk to parents:

Some parent will be anxious about their child missing time at your setting. Talk to parents about their child’s learning and development, especially if they are going to school in September. Give parents some ideas they could do with their child while they are at home but remember they may have limited resources. Keep in regular contact with parents who are self-isolating or keeping their children at home and offer to inform them of the activities you are doing at the setting. Ask how they are coping and if they need any help supporting their child at home.

If you, or a family you work with, need any support during the pandemic, SCA are happy to help. We can offer advice and sign post you to where to get additional help. We are carefully following the government’s support packages that help those who need additional funds. We can also help with concerns around children’s and adults’ wellbeing and supporting families during the pandemic.

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