by Karon Nichol, Owner/Manager.
At Sunshines we recognise that, due to the Covid pandemic, none of our lives have followed their normal pattern of events. Everyone has experienced a period of extreme social disorder which will have affected us all in different ways and to varying degrees. It would be naive of us to think that children will be able to return to, or start pre-school, in the same way they would have had the pandemic not happened. Therefore, we feel it is important to acknowledge what children have and are experiencing, and to think about what it will be like for each individual child and their family when they start pre-school in September.
As a staff team, we have discussed and decided that, in order to support children with their transition into pre-school, we will have a ‘Recovery Curriculum’ in place to acknowledge and address possible issues caused by the pandemic. Our Recovery Curriculum will be based on the understanding that compassionate leadership and teaching is crucial at this time to meet the needs of children, families and staff. The Recovery Curriculum looks very similar to how we have always settled children into Sunshines, however this year we will place a greater emphasise on these aims and recognise that children and their families may need more support than in previous years to feel happy, safe and secure in our care
We will emphasise our visual timetable so the children know what is happening now and what will happen next
Over the last few months, everyone’s daily routines have changed or maybe even evaporated completely, and for many children the loss of structure will have had a big impact on them. At Sunshines, we will support children by using visual timetables to inform them of the structure of the session, and will revisit the timetable throughout the session so children are reminded and reassured about what is going to happen. Routines will be consistent to support children to feel safe and secure in the pre-school environment. We will keep transitions to a minimum to create a calm and peaceful atmosphere, to ensure children have plenty of time to engage in play and follow their own interests without feeling hurried or under pressure.
We will focus on forming meaningful relationships with the children and supporting children to form positive relationships with each other
Human beings are fundamentally social creatures and the impact of the loss of social interaction during social isolation will have had a negative impact on some children and families. The loss of friendships and social interaction may well trigger a bereavement response in some of our children as they have undergone a period where friends and family members have been avoided. We understand it may take time for children, and families, to get used to being around people again and not to feel threatened by the nearness of others. Our primary aim will be to begin forming meaningful relationships with children and their families in order to rebuild trust and instil confidence in others. We will aim to achieve this through working closely with parents to get to know children and their families as much as possible during the first few weeks of term, and ensuring children experience positive interactions with all teaching staff whilst at pre-school. Staff will put a high priority on encouraging interactions and friendships, and will facilitate children’s social communication within their peer group.
We will support children to notice and name their feelings and explore how to manage them
During the pandemic some children may have experienced a bereavement or loss which may promote feelings of anxiety and trauma which will impact majorly on their mental health. We recognise that, even those who haven’t suffered a personal bereavement, may still be particularly vulnerable at this time and have fragile mental-health. Children may also be witnessing an increased level of adult anxiety, which they are unwittingly absorbing. As well as providing a calm and reassuring environment with lots of adult interaction, practitioners will engage children in a range of emotional literacy activities to support them through this time. We will provide opportunities to explore books, games and activities to help children understand what feelings feel and look like and to find ways to cope with those feelings. We will encourage children to express their thoughts and share some of their experiences on a one to one and in a small group during relevant activities and play situations.
We will support families and children that require extra support
At Sunshines we recognise that poor mental health can cause a deterioration in children’s overall well-being and behaviour. An anxious child finds it difficult to concentrate and to learn and may exhibit mood swings or be over emotional in situations they find difficult. Children may also suffer from a loss of sleep and the cumulative tiredness can diminish the child’s normal coping mechanisms. Practitioners will be sensitive to children’s needs, treating all children as individuals, and at our key meetings will encourage parents to share any aspect of children’s behaviour they are concerned about, meaning we can work together to support the child. Our recovery curriculum recognises that all our children will need a sympathetic curriculum to support a holistic recovery, but also that some may need a more focused recovery intervention programme, personalised to their needs. Our experienced Special Educational Needs Coordinators (SENCOs) will support families and key persons to highlight any children who may need further support and we can call on outside expertise where necessary to ensure their needs are met.
Our Recovery Curriculum has the fundamental well being, and positive development of the child at its heart. By supporting children to develop secure and meaningful relationships we aim to build a community where children feel safe, secure and valued and provide an environment where they feel empowered to learn and develop in their own unique way and in their own time. Our objective, as educators, will be to journey with each child through a process of recovery which leads them to their rightful status as a fully engaged, authentic learner ready to enjoy all the opportunities that Sunshines can offer.