Early Childhood Ireland - Plan for Reopening
A key aspect of maintaining and in due course reopening Early Learning and Care and School Age Childcare settings is communication. Ensuring children and their families know what to expect is vital to ensure that they feel comfortable and happy.
Various methods of digital communication are probably the most used form, it’s instant, everyone gets the same message and it’s visual. Adding a photo or video to a personalised email or message is easy and makes your communication especially child friendly.
Using tools such as Facebook and Instagram mean you can share photos and videos with a wide audience. Maybe you can do a post every few days, for maybe 2 weeks before reopening day, showing aspects or changes to your environment. This is especially reassuring for children who are returning to your setting as the changes will be familiar by the time they come back. Of course, it will give new children and families a sense of familiarity also.
Sharing ‘social stories’ with the families about the changes that you have made to the physical environment and the various procedures will ensure that children and their families know what to expect, which will obviously make the transition easier. These can be placed on your website if you have one, so families can download them for reading with their children.
Using Zoom or Microsoft Teams for meetings allows you to see the parents that you are communicating with. In the absence of face to face meetings these virtual meeting platforms work well in terms of allowing you to connect on a regular basis with parents particularly where the topic may be sensitive.
For Zoom, these links might be helpful:
- Quick start guide for new users: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/360034967471
- Frequently Asked Questions: https://support.zoom.us/hc/en-us/articles/206175806
- Support during Covid-19 Pandemic: https://zoom.us/docs/en-us/covid19.html
For Microsoft Teams:
- A beginner’s guide to Microsoft Teams: https://www.chorus.co/resources/news/microsoft-teams-a-beginners-guide-to-teams-in-office-365
- Microsoft Teams Video Training (you can watch short how to videos on specific topics): https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/microsoft-teams-video-training-4f108e54-240b-4351-8084-b1089f0d21d7
The Personal Touch
Don’t forget a good old-fashioned phone call though for that important personal touch. It is important because it allows individual feedback and this means parents and children can ask their questions and seek any reassurance they may need.
Develop a simple Communications Plan
Decide how often you want to communicate with parents and children, perhaps on a weekly basis for the first few months while everyone settles back in. Plan at least a month ahead so perhaps – a weekly email supported by regular posts on social media and then parent virtual meetings as required.
Keep checking back to our website for updates on communicating with families, and reassuring parents that their children are your first priority at a time that is an anxious one for all.
Business and Sustainability
Early Childhood Ireland has engaged extensively with the DCYA and other key stakeholders over the last number of months to ensure our members are best placed to return to work and survive and thrive in this new childcare environment. We are constantly updating information available to members on our website and through our training programmes.
Early Childhood Ireland also has a range of COVID-19 related products on our shop – please click here to access.
We are also creating a shop window space where companies can promote special offers exclusive to our members on products and services. Keep an eye on the Health and Safety section of this website.
COVID-19 has fundamentally altered the childcare sector and how members operate. Similar to other sectors, new hygiene standards, working from home and social distancing are now a reality. Each service should focus on creating the right conditions for their team to succeed.
Some areas to consider as your service reopens
– Technology is always changing – knowing where to start is not obvious, and the learning process never ends. Members are advised to consider the current opportunities and analyse the potential technological improvements they could introduce.
– For most people, implementing new strategies /using new technology requires learning a new set of skills, and often the learning curve can be steep. So on-going training may need to be considered.
– While embracing and implementing technology does not guarantee future success, COVID -19 has accelerated the use of virtual communication tools and all of the indications are that this technology is here to stay.
The key to sustaining your business at this challenging time is to engage in constructive dialogue with key stakeholder, parents and funders. Know that level of income required to sustain your business into the future and make every effort to secure funding from a range of sources including COVID -19 and reboot funding.
Some further useful links
Here are some practical steps, supports and guidance to help your business mitigate the impact of COVID-19.