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How Tapestry can help settings deal with temporary closure

by Ben on March 13

With all the worry that surrounds the global outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), it is natural that people are starting to think “What if…?”, especially when the news from Italy and Ireland is that their governments have closed schools for a period of time.

The knock-on effect for the education of all children will be immense, which is why teachers around the world are preparing themselves for children to be at home due to an enforced schools’ closure. The unpredictability of when this moment could arrive makes it very hard for educators to plan ‘folders’ of work for children to follow at home. Will they be in next week? Will it be in two weeks? How long will the closure last when it comes?

Here at Tapestry we have been thinking carefully about how we can support those of you who are preparing to close so that you can still engage with your children and keep them learning as much as possible during this difficult period:

Tapestry allows you to share things easily with families without the need to print out lots of resources for children to take home. You can reach the children through their relative’s login and set challenges and tasks for them to complete at home, and they can respond back to you so you can see how they’re getting on.

We have just released our new Memos feature which provides a space, similar to an observation, in which you can upload pictures, videos and documents to share with the relatives of children. By using groups here, you can share things with the appropriate children without it appearing in their journals.

By adding an observation and adding all the relevant children in it, you will be able to reach whole classes or groups of children. If you are planning to include images and photos, it may be worth checking that you have enabled relatives to view media in group observations. This can be done by following this tutorial. If you had previously disabled this, make sure you remember to disable this permission again once the children are back at your setting.

If you are planning on recording videos, please remember that if you are recording them in the app, there is a 3 minute limit on iOS devices, and 1 minute on Android, but we have increased the limit of videos uploaded via the browser to allow for 10 minute videos to be uploaded, which we hope will be enough time for you to read a story or teach a phonic sound.

You can create a host of activities to send home to your children. Here are just a few examples:

You could record a video of yourself or another staff member reading a story, like this video. You can keep the story reading as normal as possible, even though the children will be interacting with it via a screen. Point out the different things for children to notice in the illustrations or text and ask them questions about what has happened in the book.  This will keep the experience more interactive. Children will be able to listen to story videos independently, which may be especially helpful if parents are trying to work from home.

You may be busy working your way through Phonics sounds with your class. You can record Phonics sessions to send to the children, like this. Don’t worry if it’s not the perfect session. The main thing will be that you are keeping their learning going as much as possible. Remember you can keep track of observations by using the ‘Tagging’ feature. If you set a Phonics task to teach the sound ‘m’ then you could use #PhonicsM in the observations. If you were also to add this to any observations that the children send back to you, you would be able to search for them quickly using the filters.

You could try setting a challenge for the children that gets them searching for things around their home e.g. Can you find 5 things that begin with the ‘m’ sound in your house? How many things can you fit in a sock? Which are your heaviest pair of socks? Activities that provide an open-ended challenge will occupy the children for longer and get them thinking even more. Once they’ve completed the task or challenge, they could ask their relative to take a photo or record a video to share what they have done with you. Use this to give feedback or create a follow up activity for the children.

When planning activities to send home, you will need to take into consideration each child’s circumstances. Some may not have access to many resources (including paper and pens), and things may not be easy to locate, especially if families are self-isolating. Setting challenges in which children don’t have to use specific resources is always a good starting point as it helps them think creatively and problem solve. For example, the ‘heaviest socks’ activity could be solved using a set of scales, but that would be way too easy! If you’ve been learning about balancing, then hopefully the children will think about how they could use a coat hanger or a stick with something to hold it up from the middle. You may have to give hints, such as a range of resources they can choose from.

If you need to provide resources, such as a map or a page from a book, you can add them to an observation as a photo, or you can add them to the Documents section of Tapestry for the relatives to download. Remember, anything you add to ‘Documents’ is visible to all relatives and cannot be shared with individual relatives.

There are number of ways that you can communicate with the relatives so that they are aware that you have added things. When you publish an observation, depending on the Notification settings, the relatives can be notified immediately that you have added something for them to look at. The same goes for when you add a Report, where you can add any documents that are specific to a child without sharing it with relatives of other children. For those of you who use the Care Diary feature, if you had a specific communication that you wanted to share with a relative, using the Comments tool in the Care Diary would be another secure way to share this information with just that relative. Of course, not everyone has a printer at home, so a page that can be viewed on a screen and doesn’t need writing on is probably the safest option to ensure that all children can access the resource.

If your setting is shut, staff won’t be able to have those invaluable ‘quick’ chats that happen all the time in your usual day. You can use Reflections to communicate with each other, tagging in any ‘observations’ you have sent out, or that children have sent back to you, and recording and sharing the journey with your colleagues even though you are not in the same place. It also gives you a secure space to discuss and share ideas on how to move the children on, so you’re not having to think about it on your own.

We hope you find this a useful collection of ways you can use Tapestry to help you to keep in touch with your children and families in the event of closures due to Coronavirus. If you haven’t already set up relatives on your Tapestry account, this tutorial will show you how to do this. Remember, our Product Support team will be here to offer you help via email.

We hope you stay safe and well over the coming weeks.

We would like to say a massive thank you to Portia, who is currently teaching under very challenging circumstances in Italy. She has been kind enough to share some of the videos she has been using with the pre-school children at her setting, reaching out to them at home while the preschool is closed.


Product Support Technician and Education Advisor

As a Reception teacher at a school in Littlehampton, Ben was one of Tapestry's early customers. He made good use of the helpful Product Support Team, sending them lots of emails. Eventually, he was invited to come and meet everyone at ‘Tapestry Towers’. He must have made a good impression because a few years later he found himself at his very own desk at the new Tapestry HQ. Ben now uses his experience of teaching 4 year olds to help him adjust to working in an office - he finds it comes in handy with his colleagues, as well as making him a knowledgeable Education Advisor! He also tweets (a lot!) and runs the Tapestry Support Group on Facebook.