At the start of this academic year the Early Year’s team provided ‘Transitions Webinar Training’ for Sharing From The Start practitioners. This provided reassurance and ideas of how to help children with transitions and how, in a COVID-19 environment, to have the virtual world with parents rather than the usual open days and information evenings.
Practical information and Government protocols were provided. Most importantly, this was an opportunity for preschool leaders to be creative and share with each other innovative ideas, which is one of the objectives of the Sharing From The Start programme. Feedback from those settings who took part in the training show it led to a comprehensive increase in knowledge, understanding, skills and confidence.
Jacqueline Coulter from Ballymena Nursery said “As an over 60 year old…. I was anxious about joining the webinar but with our Early Year’s specialist Fiona’s gentle encouragement I did join the transition webinar. ICT skills is not my strength. It was my first webinar and although I did appreciate listening to the discussions and ideas I was not confident to take part in the chat room, question times or conversations. However, since that I have joined other webinars and I am grateful for Fiona’s encouragement and I was pleasantly surprised how professional and worthwhile the session was. I liked the ideas of having bubbles blowing for the children to enter and the ideas of having gate greetings. We did virtual walk abouts demonstrating the new 1 way systems for our parents and we use our nursery website and Tapestry app to communicate with our parents and children. Thank you to Fiona and Early years team for their excellent support and encouragement to embrace new skills, especially ICT”
Jacqueline Coulter, Ballymena Nursery
Other feedback from participants:
“I wasn’t as secure in my appreciation of transitions post COVID-19 as I thought I was – great to get and ideas on how to help children.”
“I was very interested to find out about the changes we would have to make to our transition programme in order to take into consideration the impact COVID-19 has had on the children. Also there were some excellent ideas about linking with parents online.”
“Thank you to everyone who facilitated this worthwhile and valuable training.”
Throughout the pandemic, technology has been a critical component. Practitioners and teachers in Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have utilised virtual working to maintain relationships with other settings. These relationships have enabled staff to connect with one another, share ideas, reflect on current practice and support one another. Preschools involved in Sharing From The Start continue to utilise technology as a means of facilitating Shared Education in this, their final year of the programme.