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Staying in touch with the children…

Author: Jackie Barrow  / Location: SOLE Neev

For a while I had no regular sessions with any one group but met with many different children at either Gocharan or Korakati, both of which I love.

However, when the chance of having a regular group of slightly older children at Neev came up I decided to see how it would go. Neev was a new centre and a new challenge. The sessions were at 9am my time which is generally as early as I feel able to throw myself into the company of enthusiastic, lively young people! It was only a half hour session with no chance of overrunning even by a few minutes as the school bus would be waiting outside to take them home at the end of their day.

In a very short space of time we seemed to form a relationship, helped very much by the dedication and encouragement of the Lab Coordinator,  Radhika. And then here in the UK our clocks changed. 9am became 8am for me. I’m retired and whilst during my working life, the day started at 6.30am, nowadays I am barely out of bed by 8! What to do? Well as I say, the sessions had been such fun, for all of us I think, so I decided to carry on. As long as I was fully dressed, well at least the top half, then perhaps it would be Ok! And so we continued for another few weeks. But then the crunch came when my daughter returned to work after a year’s maternity leave and our offer of a day’s child-minding meant that at 8am on a Tuesday morning we would be en route to our daughter’s house. This just wasn’t going to work. Reluctantly I found someone to take over my group.

But I missed them! Then I had an idea and asked whether they might be interested in keeping in touch via a Linoit canvas. And this is what we have done for the past two months. I send them a link to a canvas entitled Neev News 2018. I started with one at the end of January, we have just filled February’s and I’m just setting up one for March. I simply post any items of my news that I think might interest them: films or plays I’ve seen, books I’ve read, musical and cultural events, family news, things I’ve made for my grandchildren, extremes of weather, holidays or weekends away and so on. The response has been fantastic.

Firstly, none of this could happen without Radhikha ensuring that the children are shown the link and have access to the computers. What I have found is that I have come to know individual members of the group far more quickly than through the actual sessions. They post news and pictures of their own, comment on my news, answer my questions and ask me questions. Each of them chooses to respond to posts that interest them, so I know who is interested in film, who likes public speaking, what sort of music and dancing they enjoy, who has just celebrated a birthday. Some of them like to ask about my family, some follow up on questions I might pose such as which of the Scottish lochs is famous and why. This followed on from my visit to Loch Lomond – and no! That isn’t the answer! I ask them to put their names on each of their posts, so my replies can be addressed to individuals. I have had discussion with members of the group who barely had a chance to speak during our Skype sessions either because of the dominant few, their own lack of confidence or the brief nature of our time together.

Linoit sends me an email each time there is a new post. I then generally take a little time to organise the canvas, pin comments, questions and answers relating to a particular topic together, perhaps with a further comment or question from me. I then message Radhikha to let her know that I have added to the canvas. If I feel that a topic has not really been exhausted, then I can always post about it again and we can revisit it on the next month’s canvas. The children are just about to take their exams and have had very little time recently but one or two have taken a few minutes to comment on my most recent posts and to promise to catch up with me in April, after exams and their holidays.

I have blogged about using Linoit canvases before but as part of a session or for feedback at the end of the session. I can see, however, that there is huge potential here for asynchronous interaction with groups or individuals, for simply keeping in touch, having extended discussions on given topics or for investigating big questions.

Here is a view of our first canvas from January 2018.


Staying in touch

                                            A section of the Linoit Board


Post script: Many other Grannies have made use of Padlet, another similar and perhaps more flexible online canvas, which would work just as well, if not better.

Note: Jackie Barrow has been a ‘Granny’ since the very beginning of The Granny Cloud in 2009 and is a member of the Core Team.