If your centre is in an area of the country that is experiencing lockdown, you may be unsure of how to support your families. During these uncertain times, we need to look for different ways to connect with others. Thinking outside the box to create connections with our community is a great way to promote mental health and provide moments of joy and happiness. Can you find virtual ways of connecting with your community? Here are some ideas you may like to try, starting with your families:

Think about ways that educators can keep in touch with children. This may include contacting families by phone to check how they are going, or having educators email families. It may be nice to share something personal with the children and invite them to send photos of what they have been doing. You may like to include a photo of:

  • Your family.
  • Your pets.
  • Something you have cooked.
  • A flower or insect in your garden.

These small but personal communications can help families continue to maintain relationships with you, talk positively about the centre to their children and hopefully create easier transitions when the children return.

Here are some ideas of home learning opportunities you may like to share with families, using resources that most people would have at home:

It is always a great idea to promote reading! This is the best way for young children to develop pre-literacy skills and it sets them up for success in school and on their lifelong learning journey. A simple poster like this conveys the message well.

Promote using screens in a positive way! “Cosmic Kids Yoga” is a channel on YouTube with videos that incorporate yoga and mindfulness with storytelling. This promotes physical activity and wellbeing and is a great idea when you are housebound!

https://www.youtube.com/user/cosmickidsyoga

There are a variety of different lengths and topics to get all children interested from classic fairytales, to current favourites (frozen, Minecraft, trolls, etc.)

You could also provide a list of the children’s favorite action songs at the centre. Here are some favourites of toddlers and preschoolers I teach:

Sleeping bunnies (this tends to get played on repeat!): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHcFQ9gaMF4&t=14s

Listen and move: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j24_xH5uvdA

Animal freeze song: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2UcZWXvgMZE

Shake your sillies out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=03zqJQJRLN0

Stand up, sit down: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t9WAGkQUUL0

Open shut them: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9LbZSyx-7Xo

Rockabye your bear: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yOUNwyumiUQ

Baby shark: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XqZsoesa55w

Your older children (and those with older siblings) may enjoy trying to dance along to “Kidzbop kids” videos or “Gonoodle” dance videos. Here are some links or search the names above for more popular songs.

Best day of my life- Kidzbop https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNog54ovi8Q

Trolls- Can’t stop the feeling-Go Noodle https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhfkYzUwYFk

Here is a list of activities that you can try to support your child’s fine motor skills:

  • Let them help peg washing on the line
  • Cut pictures from magazines or junk mail. You could make a collage based on different colours, healthy and unhealthy foods, the first letter of your name or just “things I like”
  • Practice tying knots. Use a piece of string, wool, a shoelace or any other material you can find and practice. This is a great start to tying shoelaces.

If you have a stick and some wool you can make a stick wand. Be resourceful with what you have. No wool? Try old clothing cut into strips or plain string dyed with food colouring. Add feathers or leaves to the top for extra magic! This is a great way to support hand-eye coordination and imaginative play.

Learn some finger rhymes or action songs. These are wonderful for increasing cognitive ability, language skills, memory, and finger strength.

Use tweezers or tongs to manipulate small items. This helps with grip strength as well as hand-eye coordination. Small items you may have at home include cereal, pasta, lego bricks, woodchips or pebbles

As well as reaching out to families, you can continue to make connections with your community, using virtual methods of communication.

A great current initiative to support mental health in early childhood communities is Be You (https://beyou.edu.au/) which is delivered by Beyond Blue, in collaboration with Early Childhood Australia and Headspace. Be You has tools and resources for supporting the wellbeing and mental health of educators, children and families. This may help you support families who are struggling or may encourage you to be mindful of your own mental health. You can register as an individual educator, a team leader or a learning community. The aim of creating a Be You learning community is to build a positive and inclusive environment which promotes resilience and allows every child, young person, educator, and family member to achieve their best possible mental health.

Can you contact your local school? They may have students in lockdown who would be able to virtually share learning with your students. Putting older students in contact with a younger buddy may create positive relationships that enhance the learning and mental health of each child. Children may be able to share artwork, stories or videos with their younger buddies. This would be a great way to develop a sense of community where older and younger children can benefit from communicating with each other. Perhaps older students could video themselves reading a book to share with your children?

As professional educators, our families and communities may be relying on us for advice and help in these difficult times. We can continue to support them from a distance using creative methods and the positive attitudes we bring as we work with young children every day.