“It started during lockdown,” says dad and music education expert Greg Hooper. “My five-year-old son Ted suffers from a condition called tracheomalacia that makes him prone to catching and suffering acutely from pneumonia.
“My wife and I knew early on that Ted would not be able to return to school for some time and very quickly it became clear how much he missed his friends,” Greg says.
“It basically all started at home with me and my wife, Amy, and our two pre-school boys,” says Greg. “We started to wonder what playing with friends through Zoom would look like and what materials would we need?”
Greg got in touch with local children’s writer and ex-early-years teacher Adam Guillain, and together they created Time to Play, a series of interactive thematic sessions on Zoom.
Under the guise of Snazzy Badgers, Greg and Adam, both from Woodstock, have come up with interactive songs, games and creative activities that do just that. “We love watching how much the children enjoy sharing their creations and seeing them celebrated by their friends,” Greg says.
In these sessions, children and their parents join a group of six friends to sing, dance and create, celebrating and sharing their creative achievements with friends.
“It was fun and made all of us happy!” says Adam.
The pilot project has since evolved and is now linking and liaising with local schools to train teachers, tutors, child care workers – even volunteer parents – to deliver the curriculum through engaging semi-televised classes on Zoom.
“Safeguarding and well-being are at the centre of everything we do,” says Greg. “Parents and children alike enjoy Time To Play because it brings 90 minutes of structure every morning and gets the core of homeschooling done.”
“We’re now looking to schools to lend laptops to families and to sponsors and charities to provide equipment so we can be inclusive and provide equal opportunities,” Greg adds.
For more information visit their website https://www.e-leader.co.uk/
“Some communities will be able to download our resources and just go with it,” says Adam, “but if anyone needs help, Greg is happy to facilitate that too. If you would like to know more, just visit our website and drop us a line.”