Like many Early Years Settings and schools, we re-opened our setting on the 1st June 2020, albeit at reduced numbers and with only one childminder working currently until all of our families return. However, we spent the lockdown period planning, arranging, cleaning, organising and preparing for this moment to ensure it was the safest and easiest transition for both our children and their families.
Once the Government confirmed that we would be allowed to re-open, we arranged for each of our children and one of their parents to attend an hours individual settling in session to enable them to re-adjust and familiarise themselves again with the comfort of their parent nearby, as well as enabling us to catch up with their parent and share any news/development, each of these sessions were incredibly positive experiences and it was lovely to see the children playing happily within the environment again.
From this first week back, I’ve learned so much and had the most wonderful time playing and learning with the children again. Here’s a few reflections on our week;
First thing I noticed (and for me the most important) was the children’s absolute enthusiasm and excitement to be back! It was so lovely to see.
Each child came in using the new procedures through the side gate and immediately washed their hands in the garden and set off to explore the equipment in the garden.
Naturally, there were a couple of moments throughout the day when conversations turned to “Where’s Mummy?” (to be expected after 2 months at home with mummy or daddy) but with a cuddle, some words of reassurance and the distraction of the bubbly water tray we happily carried on with our play.
After spending our first morning settling back in, we decided to head out to the Secret Garden or a picnic lunch, and I was reminded by the children as we ventured out in the van to put on our masks. It amazed me how much they have taken on board from your conversations with them.
So please keep having those chats and talking things through with your child as they really are absorbing this new information.
The children ran, climbed tree stumps, picked daisies and buttercups and enjoyed the sarnies they had made for lunch.
There were a couple of other families doing exactly the same as us, but at a safe distance which allowed the children such freedom to explore.
The children asked after Chloe and Willow, so we caught up with them on FaceTime before tea time on most days and we explained to the children that Chloe will be coming back in a few weeks time, and they were happy with my explanation. (Thank goodness for video calls!)
The hand sanitizer stings if you have a cut is something we’ve all learned this week!
But it meant that we kept up our hand washing routines even when out of the house. Moving forward, I think we’ll try the foam soap when we go out next time!
The cleaning; well, I’m pleased to report I played more than I cleaned.
The children helped clean some of the equipment which they loved (more water play!) and I finished disinfecting the playroom room, outdoor equipment and boxes of play equipment, and emptying the water tray within 30 mins of the last child leaving (I also need to invest in some more hand cream!)
The re-opening/return phase was always going to be a daunting one, but I can hand on heart say, after 10 minutes of the children being back in the setting, it was like we’ve never been away.
We shall take every day as it comes, continue to do the very best we can to keep you and your children safe, and bring some sort of normality back to the children’s lives.