Reflecting on nurseries reopening and looking ahead to what’s next
Earlier this month, we hosted a webinar for the Early Years community entitled, ‘The practicalities of reopening your childcare business.’
Our CEO Chris Reid was joined on the panel by a number of industry-renowned experts including June O’Sullivan (CEO of the London Early Years Foundation), David Wright (Owner of Paint Pots Nurseries), Cary Rankin (CEO of Bertram Nursery Group) and Linda Baston-Pitt (CEO of Purple Bee Learning).
And, as we prepare for our next webinar – ‘A fresh new chapter for Early Years’ – which looks at the key learnings and trends from two weeks into the ‘new normal’, we’re reflecting on some of the key themes which arose during the last discussion.
Communication is key to safety in the EY sector
It’s been a rollercoaster of a ride for the UK’s businesses – from education to healthcare, everyone has had to adapt to keep their services and customer relationships going.
And as well as reflecting on the difficulties arising from nurseries furloughing large numbers of staff, one of the main topics of conversation was communication. Notably, the role it has played and will continue to play in keeping practitioners, parents and children feeling both ‘in the know’ and supported, during these unusual times.
This debate around how communication has, during the months of lockdown, helped staff and parents to maintain contact surrounding child development and progress was an interesting one. This revealed that keeping talking during this critical period of change has not only proven beneficial in supporting home-schooling parents, but it has also helped to keep vulnerable children safe.
But it wasn’t just the communication during lockdown which attracted the panel’s attention, it was also apparent that this regular dialogue – be that in person at a safe social distance or virtually – will continue to play a key part during the next chapter of the transition to a ‘new normal’ for Early Years settings.
It was in this context that wellbeing took centre stage in the discussion – of the practitioner, parent and child.
An interesting point was raised that it’s important to recognise there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all approach’ when responding to the pandemic – each setting will have to implement different measures to ensure the safety of the environment for all parties. Of course, practices will be employing strategies to meet the needs and demands of all personnel and parents, but these requirements will inevitably change as time passes, so remaining flexible is also essential.
And as the sector’s doors continue to open and child capacity rises, one of the largest obstacles will be the amount of emotional strain on practitioners, parents and children. There’s a lot to adjust to all at once and there will be apprehensions from all sides, but communication is at the heart of ensuring everyone feels reassured with a sense of ‘we’re in this together’.
Physical distancing not social distancing
The session also uncovered how the way we talk about the new measures is also an important factor to consider.
During the webinar, the point was raised that while settings will have to alter the way they work and ramp up safety precautions, they should in no way become unsociable. Sociability is a critical component within the child development process.
Demonstrating to children that interactions with their peers and staff is still allowed and encouraged will also arguably reduce their fear factor, as things will appear more ‘normal’ and make them feel at ease in the learning environment.
The speakers highlighted how some nurseries will even be creating dedicated ‘friendship groups,’ meaning they will only interact with the small group they’re assigned to – helping to show that socialising is not something to be afraid of.
Looking ahead to the future of EY during COVID-19
While the global outbreak is far from over, the resounding message from the webinar was that finding a new way of working will be trial and error in some instances, however, everyone is on the same journey of discovery together.
There is undoubtedly a new chapter dawning for the Early Years sector but it’s the same kindness, empathy compassionate leadership and supportive network which has always been at the heart of the industry that will get staff, parents and children safely through to the other side.
If you missed our webinar, you can catch up on our YouTube channel. We hope to ‘see’ you on one of our sessions over the coming weeks!
Join the next Connecting Childcare Webinar – ‘A fresh new chapter for Early Years’
To ensure we are supporting you through the reopening process, we are hosting another webinar on Thursday 18th June at 12 pm to share insights into the sectors current situation.
See how other providers have handled the return to childcare and how they have adapted to the new ways of working.
We will be joined by a fantastic panel:
- June O’Sullivan – CEO, London Early Years Foundation – a social enterprise which currently runs 38 nurseries across eleven London boroughs.
- Sarah Steel – Founder and Director, The Old Station Nursery – Currently operating 18 nursery settings across the UK
- Juliette Davies – Founder and Director, EY Matters – Uniting over 9000 various individuals, organisations and ‘areas’ within the sector for the purpose of raising the status of the profession.
Hope to see you there! But if you can’t make the time, please still register and you will be sent a recording once it’s finished.
Hope to see you there – Thursday 18th June @ 12pm