Lockdown and Early Years learning
As we head into the summer school holidays, many Nurseries are reflecting on the effect of Covid lockdowns on younger children. The Headmistress at Rydes Hill School in Guildford shares her thoughts and advice.
At Rydes Hill the Nursery has been lucky enough to remain open for all except three weeks of the Pandemic. But we’ve still noticed some common themes in the gaps in children’s learning and in their social and emotional needs.
It’s not a situation that’s unique to Rydes Hill – others who work in Early Years learning have noticed similar trends.
Children have spent a great deal of time at home, and particularly for the new starters in Nursery, the absence of playgroups and social interaction with other children has had an impact. Small children aren’t brilliant at sharing at the best of times, but the pandemic has created a situation where we all need to work harder than usual to teach children to take turns and play fairly.
So what can parents do to help their children now, and in the future?
Many of the younger Nursery children are making developmental milestones later than usual – toilet training, eating with cutlery, sitting at a table rather than in a high chair – which is unsurprising given the pressure on parents who have been juggling childcare, home schooling support and working from home.
It’s important that young children are in a Nursery setting that is nurturing and supportive, and which will work closely with parents to fill in any gaps that may have developed during lockdown.
At home, setting up and sticking to a regular routine for children is important in helping children feel secure and comforted. Establish good sleep patterns through a regular bedtimes and waking-up time. Switch off digital devices at least an hour before bed, including the television, and use that time to read stories with your child.
Children can learn at home through conversations with those around them – so talk to your child, involve them in the things you are doing, such as the household chores, and play games like make-believe.
Whilst younger Nursery children may need more support with things like toileting, older Nursery children often crave learning and more structure.
As schools break up for the summer holidays, children will benefit from taking part in playgroups or other organised play sessions. Any opportunity parents have to involve children in a play session or group activity is time well spent.
Keep children active – they need at least three hours of active play a day – so make the most of the summer sunshine and get outdoors. Or consult the Muddy summer holiday guide for ideas on things to do with kids.
Rydes Hill Prep School and Nursery is a non-selective Catholic school in the Guildford suburbs. The school is expanding its Nursery – splitting the children into two classes which will be housed in brand new purpose-built classrooms which will open in September 2021. Read the full school review here.