We chatted to Perrin Sole, Headteacher at Miss Daisy's Hyde Park (their nurseries in Belgravia, Brook Green, Chelsea and Knightsbridge are also open) and to Maggie & Rose which has three nurseries in Chiswick, Kensington and Islington.
Both groups have been gradually coming up to full speed during June.
In accordance with government guidelines, children are divided into bubbles of no more than 8. This has necessarily involved some reorganisation of layouts but Perrin explains how she had wanted the children to come back to the 'same' school they had left.
Certain play equipment - sand pit, play doh, soft toys - has had to be packed away and there has had to be some reorganisation of layouts but daily routines are pretty much the same as pre-Covid, just with additional safeguarding measures in place.
Within their bubbles, children can interact as normal - 'there is no chance of telling a 2 and a half year old they can't climb all over you', laughs Perrin and friendship groups happily exist within bubbles.
The children have all settled back really well.
Neither school has had to had to alter the curriculum. "The only real difference is we have basically moved our learning outdoors," says Perrin. [Miss Daisy's are lucky to have a big garden and have incorporated outdoor learning into the daily curriculum.] "We have been so thankful for this wonderful weather. For me that was the most important thing - wanted to children to come back, have fun, socialise and just to be outdoors."
Transition from Online Learning
For both groups, the online engagement that has been going on with the children and parent community during Lockdown has clearly enabled them to maintain a sense of continuity of learning.
We loved the sound of some of the things they have been up to. Miss Daisy's ran a Masterchef challenge: the children all baked at home; the staff collected the cakes and took them to a local care home and made a little video about it to share with the children.
But parents and teachers alike are clearly delighted to be back. Credit to the parents, who have been fantastic but when Perrin mentions 'all sorts of cartwheels' they have been doing on Zoom to keep little ones engaged, I realise she is not be metaphorical!
Something that has made you laugh since school re-opened
Anna, Maggie & Rose: "We witnessed one of our more articulate pre-schoolers spontaneously explaining Coronavirus and social-distancing in great detail (and with full hand gestures!) to a teddy bear. It was a very impressive tale about how ‘a bat in a cave bit a human who shouldn’t have been there’ and then ‘spreaded’ a virus everywhere, all over the world, which is why we have to be in lockdown and stay 2m apart...'
It brought home to us just how much our little ones learn from the world around them, from what we say and how we behave."
Perrin, Miss Daisy's: "When we had opened the school gates on the first day back, the children came running into school but the parents were even more excited. I have never seen parents so enthusiastic to drop their children off at 8.30 in the morning - definitely did a bit of a happy skip as they left school.
Advice for parents over the summer break
Perrin: "My biggest advice, they don't need to worry about academics, home learning, during the summer. There is no child that is ahead or behind. Every child has gone through this and they will catch up with where they need to be. They don't need to worry. Just have fun and read lots to their children and let them play. The mental health is the most important - that they are happy, the rest will all come."
Anna: "With this gorgeous weather, make full use of the outdoor world and nature – little ones love to explore and whether it’s the back garden, a park or a long country walk, they gain so much from the new surroundings.
Routines help provide little ones with security and structure so we would recommend keeping some of the core elements in place, especially around mealtimes and bedtimes – and slowly building these back up as it gets closer to starting the new academic year in September."
Check out the fab Maggie & Rose digital hub www.maggieandrose.me (currently offered free to families during the pandemic) for a wealth of advice, crafts and story book recommendations to help stay sane over the Summer!