Wednesday 17 October 2018

Open University model inspires distance childcare concept to supervise children in their own homes

Milton Keynes (dpo) - An innovative project launched today could be the solution to the ever-rising cost of childcare. The first ever distance childcare centre, Open Childcare in Milton Keynes, gives working parents the option to have children aged two to five supervised from home via the Internet. Little ones access an online portal designed especially for their needs. There, they will find play suggestions and educational instructions.

“It’s a common issue among parents: everyone wants to find a good nursery school or childcare option but the costs are just prohibitive”, Open Childcare director Meredith Fearnley explains. “We offer the same service as other childcare providers but at a greatly reduced cost by working remotely using computers, smartphones and postal deliveries. As parents, you do not have to make any concessions whatsoever.”
Ms Fearnley opens a browser window on her computer showing a little boy. “Here’s an example. This is little Colin from Bristol. We at Open Childcare are looking after him until his mum comes home from work. Colin, no! Put the scissors away! Leave the socket alone, will you?” In total, 200 early-years carers work for Open Childcare in Milton Keynes. They supervise more than 70,000 children throughout the UK.
Just like in standard nursery schools and kids clubs, even mealtimes are catered for. “All our meals are produced organically. We send them by post, which mostly arrives over the course of the morning anyway”, Fearnley explains. “Extensive instructions are provided for all other everyday matters, such as going to the toilet. Then we tell the child exactly how and where to wipe. Of course, participants in Open Childcare also have to show a lot of commitment themselves.”
Ms Fearnley then moves on to display pictures of children’s artwork on her computer. “All of these have been uploaded today by our participants. We try to assess them immediately and send back praise and approval.” Ms Fearnley ends our conversation to get back to her tight schedule, “I still have to look at 67 crayon drawings, 15 building block towers and 42 sand pies, read a book to 789 children and explain to a three-year-old how to get the marker pen off his face before his parents return.”
adg, dan, ssi; pictures: Shutterstock
Read the German version HERE.
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