Title: Post-Covid Infant and Toddler Nursery Environments: Innovations in Early Education That Support Resilience
Stream: Teaching Experiences, Pedagogy, Practice & Praxis
Presentation Type: Oral Presentation
Sridevi Raghavan, Babilou Family, France
Claire Illiaquer, Babilou Family, France
When nurseries reopened post prolonged COVID closures, mask mandates and strict sanitary protocols made settling-in challenging for young children. Educators noticed heightened anxieties among children, presumably because of masked educators and children returning from stressed home environments. It was critical to address the challenge of potential "toxic stress" among children returning to the nurseries. This presentation demonstrates the actions initiated in nursery environments upon re-opening post-COVID that reduced anxieties of children and accelerated their settling-in.
Methodology: Our research is drawn from observations at our network of 400 nurseries across France, US and UAE. We have documented the evidence, observations and analyzed findings to draw conclusions.
Findings: 1) Using sign language to communicate with infants and toddlers reduced communication barriers caused by mask-wearing. Sign language instructions when shared with parents evolved to a strong communication and bonding tool between children and parents. 2) Allowing children to spend more time in animal and nature-based environments enabled children to develop self-regulation, reduce anxiety and develop relationship with educators. 3) Sharing COVID information with children developed resilience. Children designed their own masks, supported in cleaning tasks, and began to look forward to their regular handwash schedules, and COVID became less scary (toddlers and preschoolers) 4) Giving parents tools to follow through at home (sharing songs, stories, etc) helped parents develop a sense of positivity and resilience which passed on to children.
Significance: This study has implications for educators to understand connections with children in a post-Covid world and offers support to nurseries world-wide in practice.
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