“It’s been over 2 months since we saw most of the children. And, while we were all really pleased to be working as normal, we weren’t sure how the children would react to leaving their parents after being at home for so long,” Shelley says. “Of course, we needn’t have worried: the children were thrilled to be back, and couldn’t wait to see their friends and teachers again.”
Combining the old with the new
Every term, the pedagogical team puts together a new theme space for the children. The current theme is entitled ‘How the world works’ and, not surprisingly, includes items related to the new corona era. The space is full of all kinds of traditional and new materials aimed at encouraging children of different ages to explore and try things out for themselves. Shelley: “We encourage the children to discover how things used to work, before the days of all the technology they now see around them. For example, there’s an old-fashioned telephone for them to play with. And, while we still use flash cards and story time, we can now enhance their learning experience with the latest technology, such as a short video on the iPad showing, for example, how a stethoscope works. Also, like generations before them, the children love role playing.”
Discovering something new every time
The theme space is set up for a 10-week period, and the children are encouraged to return to it every day. The current area includes a selection of the essential professions: there’s a hospital corner, a supermarket – with 1.5m separation stripes -, as well as areas dedicated to the police, the fire brigade and farming. Shelley: “Every 2 weeks the focus shifts to a different essential profession, so the children can learn more about the different jobs and think about what they might like to be when they grow up. Each time they enter the space, they discover something new, or they discover different ways of using familiar materials.”
Creating an art work as a thank-you gift
In addition to learning and discovery, the children are also encouraged to develop their creative skills. Shelley: “At the end of each week, the children in each group work together to create a piece of art, which they then give as a present to someone or a group in one of the essential professions. For example, The Butterflies group created a large picture for medical staff at the local hospital.
Practical learning of the corona measures
“Of course, the health and safety of the children, their families and our staff are paramount to us,” Shelley explains. “This is why a lot of effort has gone into finding creative ways to incorporate the corona measures issued by the Dutch government into our activities. Examples include:
When asked what she herself has learned from the new corona era, Shelley is clear: “It’s only when something is taken away that you really begin to appreciate it. One thing I’ve learnt from the corona lockdown is that I now value what we share with the children and with our colleagues more than ever. And I think the children have learnt this important lesson too”
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