Flexible ways of settling in - Seasons Childcare

Carol Kerrey from Seasons Childcare in Bexley talks about the importance of planning ahead and being upfront with parents about the process you have in place for settling in. 

I feel settling visits are even more important now, to reassure parents that my setting has implemented everything possible to adapt to Covid-19 procedures, and so the child can spend time with my existing children, particularly those who are in the same age group.

Prior to Covid-19, settling-in visits would have mainly involved playing together inside - this is no longer the case. It is important to plan ahead and structure the visit so that the new child is part of the group, but always outside and doing activities that are inclusive without risk. Foresight is vital, you need to plan ahead rather than just seeing how it goes.

In advance of the date I give much more information to new parents. I explain that the visit will take place in two locations; both outside at the local park, and then in my garden. New children have felt hesitant, as it is slightly odd coming into my garden rather than a house. To help with this, when the new child is dropped off by their parent, I make sure that myself, my fellow childminder, or one of my assistants, plus all the children, are in the garden and have their water bottles ready to go out. That way, the new child does not feel uncomfortable, and we then set off together to the park.

Even our park visits have been adapted, so they include fun and practical activities that minimise contact between the children. We practise walking routines, we remind ourselves how we use hand sanitiser at the park, we take a look at our new school, there’s always lots of talking, and mixing with other children but in a safe way.

After the park trip we come home to practice hand washing together. Rather than allowing the children to play with shared apparatus in the garden, I plan a socially distant activity, for example we sit in a circle and talk about a birthday. I ask the new child to hand out birthday napkins for our snack, so they have a job to do and feel included. When the session is over, I walk the child home to reduce the risk of new parents entering the garden when other children are present.

I have found that it actually takes less time for a child to settle, using this new process.  I wouldn’t normally take a child to the park, or show them their new school on a visit as we tend to stay home.  It is a longer visit than before, and doing a shared outing and something like a birthday celebration together in the garden works well - they don’t not even notice they have not touched a toy. I have found the pandemic an opportunity to change our setting visits for the better!

Resources from PACEY

Free transitions training
Looking for accessible, interactive, bitesize training to support transitions and settling in? Then log in to EY Smart where we have a whole series of short courses aimed at supporting children and their parents through the hellos, the goodbyes, and some of the other challenges we all face when things change.

Top 10 Tips
If you’re looking for practical solutions to help make your settling-in process Covid compliant, then check out this list of clever ideas, all suggested by working early years practitioners, that you can implement in your setting.