Returning to the setting

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By Hilary White

Early years practitioners are used to welcoming children back to the setting after a six week summer holiday. This year, however, everything is different.

children in the nursery

When children return in September, many will have had a five month break from their normal routine. Helping children to re-settle after such a long hiatus presents a challenge we have never before had to face. To add to these difficulties, the Government has put in place a number of restrictions to ensure that children and staff stay safe – including discouraging parents from accompanying their children into the setting and removing hard-to-clean resources such as soft toys and sand.

Fortunately, the early years practitioner knows better than most how to adapt to new and fast-changing circumstances – a flexibility that has been tested to the limits over the last few months. Although restrictions prevent us from drawing on some of our usual settling in strategies, there are many ways of adapting routines and shifting our focus to help children readjust to setting life. Try the following ideas and suggestions as you and the children begin the process of adapting to the ‘new normal’.

Parent information

Provide parents with clear, easy-to-follow information about the new health and safety strategies you have put in place. Individuals vary in their response to the Covid pandemic, with some taking the view that the Government’s reaction has been excessive and others experiencing high levels of stress and anxiety. Prepare information with the anxious parent in mind, aiming to allay fears by explaining that the new strategies should keep everyone as safe as possible. If any parents or carers are frustrated by the restrictions, acknowledge their reaction respectfully while also explaining that you are obliged to follow official guidance for early years settings.

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