Taking Time to Socialise: The importance of staying connected.

Upon hearing the news that all school-aged children would be returning to the classroom following another bout of online learning, many of us were left jumping for joy with it offering a glimmer of hope for the months ahead.

By the time the 8th March came around, many of the children at Hatherop had not seen their friends or peers in person for close to 3 months. It has been really wonderful to see (and hear!) their excitement and happiness at seeing one another again. Friendships re-kindled and even new friendships being forged, there truly is nothing better than face-to-face interaction – after all, we are social beings.

Alongside a comprehensive and inclusive online curriculum, one thing we were keen not to neglect at Hatherop, was the pastoral side of things, especially the importance of staying connected to one another during a time when it would be extremely normal to feel somewhat lonely and removed from the outside world.

3 form-time sessions were factored into the children’s timetable in the Prep-School. This gave the children the opportunity to communicate with friends, have discussions, play games and just see their classmates. Throughout Pre-Prep children were encouraged on a daily basis to join form time to chat and even show and tell sessions continued which the children loved.

As a Prep 7 form tutor, I have to say that my form were superb during these sessions. The fact that we were all geographically separated coupled with the often-unnatural feeling you get when talking over a platform such as Teams, it would be understandable for some of the children to be tempted not to ‘raise their hands’ and talk freely as they would in school.

I was amazed, however, at the speed at which they adapted to the virtual form sessions and seeing their confidence grow within a small amount of time was really reassuring to see. Do not get me wrong, we all had our own struggles throughout the time online, and it is important to acknowledge that, but overall, I was pleased to see my tutees chatting away as if they were in our form room at school. From games of Squares, Kahoots, Blookets and Word Wheels, to discussions brought about by several ‘Thunk’ questions; the showing of pets, baking competitions and making our own video for Manic Monday by the Bangles. We certainly managed to find enjoyment and that that all-important ‘connected’ feeling.

When the news came out that we would be returning to the Castle of the 8th March, I think it made us all reflect about our time at home. We, like many other forms in Hatherop, decided to have a few sessions put aside to talk about what we were feeling about the return. We touched on things that we will miss about being at home but also what we were looking forward to about coming back into school.

It was also very important to give everyone a chance to talk openly about any worries and concerns. Through the use of the Whiteboard function on Teams, the children in my form were able to express themselves and it was a really useful exercise.

Now we are back at school it has been nice to keep some of the activities that we enjoyed doing during form time going!

Pupil Quotes/Testimonials

“What I enjoyed about form times in Lockdown was playing A,B,C,D’s with my friends, Blooket, Squares and Kahoot too! I loved seeing everyone again and have a laugh along the way!” Louis 7H

“I loved seeing the faces of my friends and playing games with them all, and beating them!“ Daisy 7H

“I enjoyed playing Blooket with everyone (Including Mr Hempsted) and I really liked the baking competition and giving daily updates on our puppies!”  Esme 7H

“If I compare it to last year, form time was better this time round as we only saw each other once or twice a day, whereas this year we saw and spoke more to our friends” Lottie 7H

“I liked playing games all together and being able to do different challenges!” Alex 7H.

“I really enjoyed playing virtual games together and being able to show off my pets, who really helped to calm me during Lockdown” Alice 7H