While your centre will be open, there will be parents who are comfortable with letting their child come in and some who are not. Instead of focusing primarily on the children who are coming into the centre, it can be a good idea to offer options for children who are at home. This can help your centre maintain their enrollment numbers and give at-home children an opportunity to still learn and connect with their peers. Below are some ways that you can connect in-centre children with at-home children.
1. Use Video Platforms During Group Lessons
When there are lessons in which all the children will be in one area, such as story time, think about broadcasting these lessons to children at home. You can use a common platform, like Zoom, and allow children to join the lesson remotely and participate in discussions. This can allow remote children feel connected with those at the centre and improve their social skills.
2. Have Materials Available for At-Home Learning Families
If there are lessons where kids will be using certain materials, try to set aside extra materials to provide to parents who have children at-home. You can let parents know that there are materials to be picked up (if they choose to) that they can bring home for their child to use. Children can join a live lesson that you’re holding via a video platform or you can provide them with a list of instructions (or recorded video) to follow.
3. Have At-Home Teachers Connect with At-Home Children
Sometimes there are teachers who aren’t comfortable with teaching in-person or have to stay at home for other reasons. Take advantage of these teachers and allow them to connect with the children at home. They can conduct lessons with small groups of children, allowing them to still learn and be able to connect with some of their classmates.
4. Create Videos
Creating videos for children to view at home can keep them engaged when in-centre learning isn’t an option. There may be some lessons that your staff members conduct in person, such as learning the alphabet, that can be recorded for children at home to view. Before making the video, make sure to get parent permission if children will be in the video. Also make sure that only enrolled children can view the videos (i.e. making YouTube videos private).
5. Post Lessons Online
When possible, try to post the lesson material online as well as a breakdown of the day. Parents can try to get their children to partake in the same activities as their peers while still continuing their learning and developing certain skills. Having a routine available to the children at home can also provide some guidance to parents on how to have some normalcy in their child’s life. It can prepare them for when COVID-19 cases have gone down and if parents decide to drop their child off at the centre. This can also benefit children who are at home sick.
Centres should think about having options for children at-home if they haven’t already. Yes, staff members will need to focus on children in the centre but that doesn’t mean there isn’t an opportunity to connect with children at home. Since the current situation won’t be going away soon, having this balance can make children at home continue with their learning and development while connecting with their peers at the centre. Plus, this can give centres some ideas if COVID-19 causes closures.