I have had the chance to stop for two weeks, my term ended a couple of weeks ago. The last few weeks of the term felt manic, with a mix of very different endings both in my family and with work and preparing new starts for next term. There were times in term 6 that I strongly felt the sense of reduction and depletion that COVID has brought too many. For most of the lockdown, I and our team found creative ways through, to continue to support children and staff, if I’m honest other than missing my daily swims, COVID lockdown was not that hard for me. But as the term ended I became quite overwhelmed by the difference, I wasn’t able to do endings I would normally do, with the schools, with the children or with our team. I think the final zoom meetings with children and the team meeting felt particularly sad and wrong. I know that endings are important and it felt so frustrating to not be able to do them in the way I normally would.
It’s also made me reflect on how much I take for granted simple parts of my job such as seeing children. In term 6 I would normally visit the new children I will be supporting in September, I would visit them in the nursery at least once, sometimes twice. I would meet them, observe them, introduce myself, and maybe discover one thing about them. This year that has not been possible, instead I have read notes, so many notes, I have spoken to nursery workers, health visitors, children center staff, social workers, parents. But, I have realised none of those conversations make up for seeing the child. I have always been an advocate of observations. The first early year’s qualification I took when I was 16-18 was the NNEB. In this course, we were taught how to do observations. This was an essential element of the training. I was taught that you never make a view about a child until you have watched, observed, noticed. Thirty years on and I particularly realised this year how much that early teaching has influenced my practice and how underprepared I feel for the new term without the observations.
The last couple of weeks have also made me realise I haven’t been with a child, in person, for 19 weeks. I have been working with children since I was sixteen, 19 weeks is the longest time I have had a break from directly being with children. But this is about to change, the organisation I work with are co-running a playscheme for 2 weeks with 3 other local charities, offering some play, fun, art, sport, food and emotional regulation and support ( my role in the scheme!) aimed at some of the more vulnerable children in our area. I’m looking forward to it, 2 weeks with children. It will be an interesting challenge with the new regulations we need to put in place, but I think it will be wonderful to be back working directly with children once again.
Other news from my last week is my latest book , Supporting young children through change and everyday transitions published by Jessica Kingsley Publishers is now available to buy and it has been nominated by Teach early years under their CPD, category which was a wonderful surprise.