Over the next few weeks settings across Scotland will be sharing their stories of providing quality early learning and childcare, while at the same time implementing public health measures to help protect children, families and staff during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Kingsmeadows Nursery and Out of School Care has remained open as a critical childcare hub within our local area. We have been open to key worker families and vulnerable children only throughout the COVID-19 lockdown and the easing of lockdown restrictions.
A group of our staff team have worked throughout this period and a group have been at home on furlough. Staff are coming back from furlough now and are adapting well to our new routines.
Our staff have been using some of their extra time during lockdown to complete training. Our intention from the beginning has been to use this time to update and develop our knowledge and skills to further improve the outcomes and opportunities we provide for our children and their families throughout our setting.
Our staff have been great as always! They have been thinking in an even more creative manner than usual and are finding positives in working shorter days and having more time at home. Our numbers of children attending are definitely lower than usual, ranging between 18 and 30 in total. This seems to be the new busy just now, and we are one of the busier hubs in our area.
We have adapted and adjusted many daily routines since lockdown started. For example parents/carers now drop off and collect their children from the main entrance. This has worked surprisingly well and our children usually come in with ease. Our children are split into smaller groups and this is working well.
We are extremely fortunate to have an extensive outdoor environment that is used each and every day. Throughout this period we have intentionally increased the amount of time we spend outdoors even further. This is an important improvement for us and something that will be continued after Covid-19 restrictions have ended.
At Kingsmeadows we have been carrying out a lot of STEM activities, including making potions, den building, using tools, scavenger hunts, and making ice-cream. Our children have also been on lots of woodland walks. The woodland is on our door step which couldn’t be any better!
We have continued to offer opportunities for messy and sensory play by providing each child with their own tools and equipment. Depending on the resources used, certain things are disposed of once the activity is finished. Playdough and clay seemed to be a great hit with no sharing required! All tools and equipment are washed after use.
We’ve been able to use our bikes that we gained through the ‘Play on Pedals’ scheme. Children can use helmets provided by the setting which are cleaned after use, or are welcome to bring in their own if they prefer to do so.
We have limited a lot of resources within each of our rooms but alternate them regularly. All toys and equipment are cleaned at the end of each day.
At Kingsmeadows we have an online system to record observations which we update and share with parents and carers daily. We have also set up a welcome display board which is placed at the main entrance. We pop new photos on at the start of each week to give parents and carers further insight into our daily practice. We have had some lovely feedback from parents and carers and they all really appreciate what we are doing.
‘Realising the Ambition: Being Me’ has supported us as we have made changes to the way we think about and provide high quality opportunities and experiences for our children. Sections 3.5 ‘When things in my life are not straightforward – adversity and trauma’ and 5.4 ‘Leading through learning together with families’ have helped us to think and respond to the impact of Covid-19 on our families. The sections on considering the ‘learning environment’ and ‘facilitating playful learning environments’ have also been really useful in helping us focus on quality as we have adapted our setting and the way we support children’s learning through play.
It really has been a case of looking for the positives. We look for the rainbows – the one above was a sunny Friday afternoon task! – and keep on smiling 😊.