Classic Nurture Group provision presents a hybrid of home and school, in the school setting, but thanks to COVID-19 the opposite has been occurring in homes around the world for the last year or so!
The home school hybrid has suddenly, and without preparation or warning, been flipped and parents and schools have been left trying to work out how school might look at home. The practical issues present themselves quickly - desk and chair? Laptop? Internet connection? Siblings? Competing timetables? What to do about lunch? Other practicalities emerged in the medium term - in our household I suddenly realised my teenager didn't really have enough 'at home' clothes because previously he spent most of the week in his school uniform! I did suggest he could wear his uniform but you can imagine how well that went down.... we compromised on onesies until some new clothes arrived in the post, but no, he couldn't be Pikachu during the online zoom lessons... a new rule we had never had to have before!
There were other 'rules' that had to come in, routines that needed to change, boundaries that appeared. Many times I have paused to reflect about how weird it is to have a disagreement over this new normal - who gets the shared laptop with the camera and when, explaining for the millionth time why mum and dad need to know when the online science lesson is because we don't have the bandwidth for multiple simultaneous video calls, and why leaving your school books etc... laying about all over the house and floor is not helpful, are conversations that spring to mind. Sometimes it was existing boundaries that came in to their own - bed time and meal times became fixed points for all of us in a time where it was becoming increasingly difficult to remember what day it was. The Nurture Principles teach us the important of the learning environment as a safe space. Boundaries, routines and rules all contributed to building this learning environment at home.
As time has moved on and the expectations of this school at home have evolved, it's the less immediately obvious school at home hybrid impacts that have started to come to the fore. The obvious issues are opined on by the obvious people, with much talk of 'catch up' and a singular focus on lost 'progress', all of it aimed at academic achievement. My view is that this is the language of the running race of educational politics. At a pupil level, teachers and parents are all about the individual and it is at that level where it has worried me that the impact of this very odd year is not being recognised and supported more widely. So it was refreshing to see this article today - Call for 'Summer of Play' - advocating for the things that make our children and young people tick. The group PlayFirstUK, are suggesting children need to be spending the summer 'outdoors, being physically active and having fun with their friends'. This is where the deep progress has been lost... being with friends, playing and interacting, sports and shared creative expression. Childhood and the foundations of lifelong learning have been on pause, not only academic education. We the adults owe that to our next generation's health and happiness to value that at *least* as much as their educational progress.
Nurture principles will be at the foundation of how we stitch these relationships and learning behaviours back together when we meet again, in whatever passes for normality in the future. This generation of children and young people in schools will not look back on their childhood with the same points of reference we have from OUR childhoods. Missed nursery nativity plays, school trips, team games, friendships, fights, relationships, playground fads, swimming lessons, sleep overs, going to your friend for tea, birthday parties, trips to the cinema... the list goes on. Instead they will likely talk to their children about being stuck indoors, banana bread and face masks. If we nurture their return by understanding their needs for play, relationships, fun and fresh air, then in the living and telling of this story - their story - they will not ache for a childhood they missed.