It’s fair to say the coronavirus has left most of us stuck indoors. But despite this strange pause, or perhaps because of it, we’re seeing a wave of creativity about how we can use the internet to stay in touch.
Musicians are streaming free concerts on Instagram, close friends are meeting for drinks over FaceTime, and children’s authors are hosting story time on Facebook Live.
If your setting is closed right now, the internet offers a lot of great ways to stay in touch with your team members and families, and to support them through this period of self-isolation.
Remote learning will allow you to keep your business running through this closure, but more importantly, it maintains the relationships that give life and character to your early years community.
It reminds us that we’re in this together, and we’ll get through this together.
Remote learning helps maintain a sense of continuity and community at your early years setting, and it allows you to keep your team active with the parents and children they look after. What’s more, when you feel it’s right and fair to do so, it could help to keep you billable and therefore support your business through the closure.
It’s just like these fancy conference calls we’ve all been having, but it’s you and a load of four-year-olds talking about your favorite bugs. Sounds more fun, right?
To set this up, the families at your setting will need access to a computer or tablet with a camera and internet connection. Then, you’ll need to have everyone download a teleconferencing software. Platforms like Zoom, Google Hangouts and Skype are particularly popular right now, and can accommodate either a small group or an entire classroom.
Think about your regular activities that could translate to this digital medium: Storybook reading, circle time discussions, and group arts and crafts projects could all work for you. If you’ve got the time and resources, and depending on the ages of your little ones, you could also develop a broader digital lesson plan to progress through each day.
As you explore your own approach to remote learning, just remember to not stress this too much. You don’t need to live up to the standards of your everyday classroom. Just do what you can to help families stay active and creatively engaged, and to stay connected with one another.
We’ve all got enough pressures to deal with at the moment, and delivering a world-class education through an iPad shouldn’t be one of them. A little bit goes a long way right now. Your support and time is what matters to parents, while we’re all working out how to navigate this new landscape.
If you’ve got children of your own, you know that this home quarantine business creates some challenges for how to keep the little ones occupied while you find spare minutes to squeeze in work. For families, especially those working from home or in essential businesses, you can never have too many activity ideas.
As you send out regular updates during this closure, consider offering some online resources for creative activities that children and their parents can explore on their own time.
You could also adopt these into your remote learning approach, and work through them together as a digital classroom.
The New York Times recently put out a great article about how children’s educators and artists are stepping up to offer video activities for the little ones at home. Check whether some of your favorite children’s authors, illustrators and educators have any live streams or video series planned, and share those resources with your community.
It’s easy to sink a whole afternoon into a bin of LEGO bricks, but with a bit of structure, LEGO play becomes even more engrossing. Check out the LEGO Group’s Twitter feed, where they post daily challenges for what to build, plus ideas on how you can use LEGO for educational activities.
Podcasts aren’t just for grown-ups. There’s a great selection of podcasts made for little ears, and they’re a great way to keep children occupied through the day. Children could go on a swashbuckling adventure with Story Pirates, learn more about the animal kingdom with the Australian Animal Sound Safari, or get into an audio singalong with Noodle Loaf.
Normally, it would be a stretch to go to the zoo and visit outer space in one day. But with the magic of the internet, anything is possible.
Whether you’d like to set up a guided digital field trip with your team, or include these as resources for families to explore on their own time, here are a few great virtual tours around (and beyond) the globe.
Smithsonian Museum of Natural History
Explore the collection of the most-visited natural history museum in the world, all from the comfort of your own home. Dinosaur fossils, geodes and gemstones, and volcano dioramas await your curious visitors.
International Space Station
This one takes us 400 kilometers overhead into the cabin of the International Space Station. Click through the station, explore interactive modules, and imagine what it’s like to live at the edge of outer space.
Deep in the heart of Texas, the Houston Zoo has set up six daily live streams of some of their animal enclosures. In some, you can even control the camera to peek about the enclosure — Perfect for amusement, or a great basis for a remote learning field trip to the zoo.
If you’re looking for more ideas, check out the Google Arts & Culture app, where you can access all sorts of virtual tours of museums across the board.
While it’s important to stay in touch with the families and children in your care, don’t forget to take a moment for your team. You can use remote meetings to socialise, stay organised and keep your sense of community alight until you’re ready to open your doors again.
Using remote conferencing software like Zoom or Google Hangouts is a great way to host regular meetings with your team. Keep them updated with any news or policy changes in light of your coronavirus response, and take some time to do a wellness check — touch base to see if everyone’s feeling well and content.
Another way to keep your team busy, billable and growing is through online professional development courses. Resources like the Child Care Education Institute and Oxbridge Home Learning offer the opportunity to learn new skills within early years education.
You can still get social during isolation. Gather your staff together remotely to drink a glass of wine and discuss the state of things — Many will be glad for the chance to unwind, vent a little, and talk about what’s next for your team.
Please note: here at Famly we love sharing creative activities for you to try with the children at your setting, but you know them best. Take the time to consider adaptions you might need to make so these activities are accessible and developmentally appropriate for the children you work with. Just as you ordinarily would, conduct risk assessments for your children and your setting before undertaking new activities, and ensure you and your staff are following your own health and safety guidelines.