1st June is England’s date to “welcome back more children to early years` settings” albeit it with no more than 15 children in a room, 2 metre social distancing being observed and groups of children NOT mixing or coming into contact. The government recognises this is not easy!
So how do we set up a safe, secure, happy and valuable EYFS learning environment?
We can start by learning from countries that have already successfully opened their schools in the last few weeks.
They tell us that staff and parental engagement is key to successful re-opening and they need to be involved in plans for doing so. Communication is key – carefully timed messages about health and safety and an overview of the revised learning programme should be sent out to inform and reassure.
Risk assessments will emphasise safeguarding, health and wellbeing and are likely to be adjusted regularly with drop-off and pick-up arrangements made extremely clear.
EYFS settings will need to adapt. Put away any non-washable resources and divide up remaining resources for small group use – an EYFS “friendship bubble” of five children who work and play together at all times with their designated equipment. Children in Denmark and The Netherlands have made new friends within their “bubbles” and have settled into their new routines very easily.
Utilising outdoor space is essential (and natural to EYFS staff and pupils) – plan for learning from the environment to support enjoyment and good health. Enjoy and be reassured.