Underneath Our Masks We Are Still Smiling

August 28, 2020  
Director of TIGS Prep - Mrs Taesha Duley-Smith

One term which we often hear is ‘the new normal’ – specifically regarding the life into which we have all been thrust in recent months. We all long for a sense of predictability and for a return to what we previously regarded as ‘normal’.

One thing we could all do as a first step into the ‘new normal’ is to approach each day with a sense of expectation and of adventure, very much like the children at TIGS Prep. For them, ‘normality’ is an ever-changing, intriguing experience. Wearing a face mask is one of our many new norms, but for many children seeing adults covering their face can be overwhelming, some children might feel uncomfortable when they notice everyone is suddenly wearing masks.

This week the educators have adopted the protective measures of wearing facemasks while screening the children’s temperature at the start of the day and when they are closer than 1.5 metres to another adult at the drop-off and the collection of children.
The educators are not required to wear a mask while working with children in the learning spaces inside the classrooms. Face masks are not recommended for children under 6 years of age and we ask that children do not wear masks whilst attending TIGS Prep, as this will hinder our ability to ensure children’s safety – unable to see swelling of lips, difficulty breathing, mouth injuries etc. Outside of the service, we understand that this is the choice of the family.

Informing the children about these changes and ensuring that the children feel comfortable in their surroundings, can help them better understand and embrace this new directive. This week the Munch and Move programme will incorporate experiences which will help your children to understand why people wear a protective mask. The aim of these lessons is to help the children feel safe and secure in their learning environments.

The children have listened to a social story ‘Masks Aren’t Scary’ to highlight this change, which was a great way to start talking to the children about the educators wearing masks. As the name implies, social stories are brief descriptive stories that provide accurate information about a social situation. These stories clarify social expectations using visuals and specific sentence structures. Knowing what to expect by using a social story can help our children understand and visually see our new way of life.

The children need brief, simple information that should balance COVID-19 facts with appropriate reassurances that their school and homes are safe and that adults are there to help keep them healthy and to take care of them if they do get sick.

The children also incorporated masks into their role-play by placing disposable masks on the dolls during play and engagement. We must never underestimate the value of play for helping children to consolidate concepts, apply their understandings to real-world contexts and create imaginative worlds that foster creativity and a greater understanding of the world around us. Play is children’s language. They act out pretend scenarios as a way to express concerns, ask questions, and, crucially, reshape a narrative. In a pretend scenario, children are driving the plot and can change the outcome of a scary situation or try out different solutions to a problem.

We are closely monitoring the latest health advice to ensure we provide the best possible support for our children, families and staff.

Thank you all for your understanding and efforts in keeping our community safe.


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