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Staying connected through Super Shed Stories

By: SAMANTHA HALLOWS

Monday 23 March 2020

Over the past week we have been hearing about the trojan efforts that Early Childhood Ireland members are making and finding innovative ways to stay connected to their children while all early learning and care settings are closed. In this week’s Scealta blog we hear from our member Samantha who describes how she uses stories to keep in touch.

Hello, my name is Samantha Hallows. I am the owner/manager of Giddy-Ups pre-school. We are based in Knocklyon, Dublin 16 and have been in operation for the last ten years.  I am very worried that at the moment parents and young children may feel a disconnection between them and my pre-school. I spent a long time thinking about what I could do to bridge the gap between pre-school and home during this difficult time. I thought back to the thing that the children love the most in my setting, and that was hearing stories being read in our Super Shed in the garden. I thought about how I could read stories to the children that they would like, I was reflecting in this moment on Aistear and the importance of capturing children’s emergent interests. I thought about all the books I had in my setting, ones that had been read to the children already, some of their favourites and ones that had not yet been read!

I reminded myself that as educators we all try initiatives in our settings each day. Some work well and some fail but we keep trying as we are leaders. To quote Voltaire (1770) do not let “Perfect be the enemy of the good”. With this in mind I came up with the idea to contact parents of the children in my setting, some by text and some by email, and I asked the parents to ask their children what was their favourite story from the preschool? I also wanted to check in with the parents of my children and their response was encouraging. I got a list from the parents of the stories that the children wanted to hear. So, I set myself up in the Super Shed and I began recording myself reading the stories. Reminding myself and others that this is not about my story telling abilities or lack of…. it’s about re-connecting. We care about children and the families that come to our settings. With the help of my son Aaron, we set up a YouTube channel and the journey began. You can check out my channel “Super Shed Stories" on YouTube and try and re-connect with the children and parents in your service.Staying connected through Super Shed Stories - image of the inside of a shed

I have been sharing on Facebook too, but you can keep your stories private just for your setting if you wish. This is about being an owner manager and leading in a time when children and families in your setting need you more than ever before. Things will resume to our usual routine but that might not be for some time. I appreciate that some educators may not be able to do this. So, I am happy to share my settings YouTube stories.  Please feel free to develop your own activities around these stories. These recorded stories could also be used as a resource to help children become familiar with your setting, form relationships with the educators that are due to start next September. As educators we keep innovating!

When settings re-open these familiar stories will have maintained a link and connection between you and the children and their families. We need to think of the future as educators. I am uploading a story once a day with the help of my son Aaron, Monday to Friday for the children and parents in my setting. The feedback has made this venture worthwhile. 

 

This is how to create your own “Super Shed Stories”:

  1. Text parents and tell them that you are thinking of them at this difficult time.
  2. Text/email parents to ask their child/children what is their favourite storybook from the pre-school setting?
  3. Educators record yourself reading the requested storybook from the pre-school setting.
  4. If you are unable to record stories attach the link to a “Super Shed Stories” attach your Aistear activity plan for the children in your setting.
  5. You can share the link with parents publicly or privately on Facebook, WhatsApp.

 

How are you staying connected with the children and families in your setting during this challenging time with the COVID-19 shut down? Early Childhood Ireland would love to hear from you - email ktuite@earlychildhoodireland.ie or mcorbett@earlychildhoodireland.ie

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