WATCH: Classrooms to Care Homes
As the festive season begins, school classrooms typically transform into mini grottos, with tinsel draped around the whiteboard and a wonky Christmas tree in reception.
But this year our festive celebrations will look a little different due to the Covid restrictions.
In care homes, celebrations will be even more unrecogniseable. Unable to have visits from friends and family this winter, care home residents and their workers will be more isolated than ever before.
So we thought: why don't we connect schools and care homes to make everyone's Christmas season a little merrier?
Classrooms to Care Homes was born.
Classrooms to Care Homes: Spreading festive cheer
What is it all about?
Essentially, we are encouraging schools to get their pupils to write letters or record videos for care home residents and staff. And our hope is that this will not just be a connection forged for Christmas, but beyond.
Lockdown has been hard for everyone, but care home residents and care home workers have been particularly isolated. Children can help to ease that loneliness by writing letters or sending video letters in which they share poems, drawings, jokes, riddles and stories about their festive celebrations.
For more details, you can download our information pack here. We also have lesson writing ideas from the National Literacy Trust based on their project My Dear New Friend to help you resource the lesson.
Once your letter writing has begun, please do share your letters and photos with us using the hashtag: #classroomstocarehomes
What people are saying about Classrooms to Care Homes...
Lesley Carter is Age UK’s Clinical Lead and an expert on care for older people said: "Older people have really missed the visits from young people, and I think it would be lovely if people could share videos of carol services, cards and letters.
"Every older person would be able to recognise something that has been made by a child, and will bring back memories. We should also remember the staff in care homes, and seeing lots of happy festive cheer from their local community will give them a boost."
Andrew Moorhouse, chief executive of The Primary First Trust, said: “Now, more than ever, we need to reach out to the most vulnerable in our society, and at The Primary First Trust, we are excited to be part of this innovative scheme developed by Tes. All our schools already stand squarely in their communities with extensive links to care homes and local charities, but, crucially, this will help us to go further still. Together, we can make the difference for each other during these unprecedented times.”
Guy Shears, chief executive of Central RSA Academies Trust, said: “Central RSA Academies Trust is proud to take part in this excellent idea from Tes – what a fantastic way to spread some light in these difficult times.
“In previous years our schools, situated across Worcester, Kidderminster, Redditch and the Black Country, visited local care homes at Christmas and other times of year to help spread cheer. Pupils looked forward to collecting and delivering hampers, singing carols and enjoying the company of the residents and their carers. This always brings so much joy to the residents, and, indeed, our pupils. Sadly, these activities are not possible at the moment, but we were delighted to hear that Tes would be launching a lovely alternative project.
“We look forward to working with our pupils on this brilliant initiative to help communities come together during the Christmas season.”
Dr Helen Edwards, co-founder of online learning journal Tapestry, said: “More and more early years settings and care homes are appreciating the enormous benefits of intergenerational activities for both groups of participants.
“Older community members are shown love, kindness and empathy by the children, which is so important in relieving loneliness and anxiety. In turn, young children’s progress in communication, literacy and social development is supported through purposeful, mutually beneficial activities such as art, sharing stories and playing games.”
Asa Johnson, project manager for activities and memory care at Sunrise Senior Living UK and Gracewell Healthcare, said: “Opportunities for intergenerational activities can bring great benefits to the older and younger people involved. Different generations can learn from each other, share ideas and experiences with one another, and have a chance to be playful, which is something we can all enjoy, regardless of age.
"The Christmas period can be a difficult and lonely time for some people, and there is a risk that these feelings may be heightened this year due to the pandemic. The Tes Classrooms to Care Homes Christmas letter campaign is a great opportunity for people to try and tackle those feelings of loneliness, share good news stories and keep communities connected.”
Fiona Evans, Director of School Programmes, National Literacy Trust said:
“National Literacy Trust is delighted to support the TES’ Classrooms to Care Homes campaign, through our letter-writing programme and resources called My Dear New Friend. Encouraged by their teachers and parents, thousands of children wrote letters over the summer to a new friend in a care home. Many more are set to do this as Christmas nears.
"Having a real recipient for their writing is hugely motivational for children in terms of putting pen to paper and it’s a great way for them to practise their writing skills at the same time as bringing joy and happiness to others. National Literacy Trust research shows that writing letters makes children feel happy, helps them express their feelings and supports their literacy skills.”