During these challenging times as we embark upon a new way of opening up our Childcare Settings, there are many things to consider for the child, the family as well as supporting the Childcare Sector for long term sustainability in the future. One of these challenges will be social distancing.
It will be difficult as young children will not know or fully understand why they can’t play closely with their best friend. We always encourage children to play together, building friendships and to share and take turns. This will be different for them to process upon returning to Clubs. It will be confusing, but we can do this slowly and carefully to help children, Club staff and parents adjust to a new way of playing and interacting.
In the short term staff will need support to follow the Welsh Government guidance and to understand a new way of working, to ensure they meet the needs of a smaller group of children and develop confidence in a new approach. Staff will need to understand the barriers, the challenges and how they can overcome these with the children. It will be important to listen to children and have the time to reflect upon the new approach and to introduce changes to this approach (as and when guidance is amended) clearly for all involved.
Parents will need reassurance that their child will be safe but still cared for with compassion and with their emotional wellbeing supported. Children can have individual play activities that enable them to have similar experiences to previous sessions in the Club, within the social distancing guidance. Developing an understanding of how they are able to interact with their friends through new games and activities which will excite their play.
All Settings will undertake risk assessments for their individual circumstances, therefore each will vary in their approach to social distancing. Owner/managers and teams will need to evaluate services to enable the number of children attending to do so safely and to make changes in line with future changes to guidance. Opportunities for children and staff to mix and interact within small but consistent groups will look very different for each Setting, some have more rooms and accessible spaces where they can create small ‘bubbles’/groups. It will be important to ensure risk assessments are thorough and concise. Within risk assessing Settings should consider as much as possible any outdoor space that is available. This will support the Club to limit transmission between the children.
Hygiene within the session will be of paramount importance and it should be carefully adapted into a new routine for children through visual prompts and reminders during activities.Within our recent survey, 77% of Out of School Childcare Clubs reported concern over how to provide a quality play environment within social distancing and infection control requirements. To address and alleviate these concerns, we have developed a complete resource for childcare settings to ensure that they are able to bring socially distanced play opportunities for children within their settings when they return (https://www.clybiauplantcymru.org/news-more.asp?nid=440).
Clare Dare, Childcare Business Development Officer