If you asked me eight weeks ago if I would reopen in September, the answer would have been NO! Lockdown and this new norm did scare me a lot. I had so many questions, so many moments of ‘I can’t do this!’, a lot of self doubt, worrying about getting it right and a lot of what ifs.
However, I am part of a franchise and I know that without the support of the other girls & Little Learners HQ I don’t think I would have been in the right mindset to reopen. As a franchise we were guided every step of the way and through every Boris announcement!
I reopened on Tuesday 22nd September and I was so scared. I’m not even quite sure what I was scared of! Maybe it was because it was it had been six months of not doing classes in person; maybe I was scared of all the new measures; and scared for all the new mums who had never been out of their houses and to a baby class. At Little Learners we obviously had to change our way of doing things and put a lot of changes into place. At first I felt overwhelmed, and worried I would have missed something out; but then I began thinking a bit differently. All the changes were just tweaks! At the heart of the class was the message of mark making and learning through play. I just had to tweak things to enable the children to return.
I won’t go into all the changes but in my head I have turned them all into positives and actually some changes may stay permanently whether Coronavirus dictates it or not! I love that each child now gets their own mark maker toolkit with everything they need for the class, that we all wash our hands in our own little tubs at the beginning and that the focus has moved from ‘Let’s just come and eat and get messy’ to what Little Learners is actually about – mark making and developing the skills for early writing.
Having done 2 weeks of classes I have been amazed at how the parents and children follow the guidelines so well. However, there are still some bits I’m struggling to adjust to! I do a little input and go through the guidelines with the parents and children. Normally I would get a smile or some sort of expression as feedback whilst I’m chatting, but this doesn’t happen anymore as the parents are all wearing masks. That definitely threw me a little in my first class, as I could see them all staring at me and obviously listening but there were no expressions or smiles being sent my way. I spoke to a mum about how we have all just had to get used to wearing masks now and it made me so sad when she said ‘My six month old knows no different! She sees me with a mask every time we go somewhere now.’ That made me realise how this situation has changed so much and how much it is affecting the youngest members of our society. Another moment that got to me was last week when a child wanted to play with another child and (stupid) social distancing got in the way. My classes used to be filled with children chatting, learning to share (or not!) and making early friendships. On a positive note though, what I have seen is a stronger bond between the parent and the child. Yes they are socially distanced from other families and have their own toolkits of resources but they are interacting more with each other than before.
On Friday we had our Little Learners awards online and I won a few awards which was truly amazing and I did have to hold back tears. It meant so much and it felt lovely that people had voted for little me! I have reduced my classes to just two a week and have had to follow strict, ever-changing guidelines but I have absolutely loved returning! I have a waiting list of people wanting to come to my classes and that is an amazing feeling. I know it is so scary and such a different world at the minute and there are so many unknowns but I’ve learnt to live in the now, no one knows what things will be like even in a few weeks’ time and I have moved away from reading headlines and stories which scaremonger. Yes we might have lockdown again, yes we might go back to a time when I can’t run classes but, you know what, they are all just maybes and for now I am planning ahead! Some things are out of my control and I won’t let Coronavirus make me doubt my business! Follow us on Facebook for more updates on our journey through Covid.