Life in preschools has changed a lot due to corona. 300 Teachers from Finland shared their experience about how to work in emergency conditions. Original article in Helsingin Sanomat.
1. Inform families clearly
Corona obviously changes situations and policies, therefore informing about the current rules is very important. Collect all the information in one place so that families and staff knows where to find it. Focus on clear and direct messaging and make sure if some families miss the information, they can also get it later on.
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2. Forget about 'social distancing' with children
Social distancing and small children just do not go together. Teachers help the children to dress up, sneeze their noses and so on. Keeping distance is simply impossible.
3. Keep teaching the same group of children
As some children stay home, group sizes vary. Nevertheless, it is not smart to change teachers from group to another and carry germs all over the place. Ensure staff stays with the same group children and avoids new contacts.
4. Use protective gloves when handling food
Preschools in Finland do not widely use protective gloves and masks, but focus actively on washing hands. Use protective gloves at least during lunch in case teachers are serving food.
5. Call for strong leadership from managers
Some teachers might feel scared or lose their motivation because of the crisis situation. Strong, caring leadership is much needed in the times like these.
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6. Ask for alternative work tasks if you are in risk group
Some teachers might feel very worried about their own health. Teachers that are in the risk group (eg. aged and asthmatic teachers) could be transferred to other tasks during the virus outbreak.
7. Focus more on individual children
As there are less children attending preschool, it is possible to pay more attention to individual children. Working with children is more rewarding when teachers can focus on observing and documenting their learning.
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8. Remind families about 'sickness policy'
During corona, even children with the smallest flu are not allowed to attend preschool. It is good to keep reminding families about the topic - even after the virus outbreak is over.
9. Finish all chores and projects
It is a good idea to wash toys, organize cupboards, fix broken books, plan ahead and update learning environments before all children return to preschool.
10. Keep using digital tools for communication
Teachers have stayed in contact with most of the families via phone calls, text messages, email, social media and other online tools. Many teachers hope that using efficient digital tools continue also in the future.