We will recover – and we’ll emerge stronger on the other side

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Over the last couple of years, I have built Boromi with a vision to empower every parent to support and nurture their child’s early development through powerful, purposeful play together at home, where it matters most.

I am so proud of everything that we’ve achieved at Boromi HQ since our first pilot in January 2018. And 2020 brought some exciting new adventures with ambitious goals to increase our impact. In November, we launched a two-year Impact and Evaluation project with schools in Doncaster, kindly funded by SHINE, which was a game-changing opportunity for us to really dig deeper into our programme and better understand what is working and how we can go further to increase and strengthen our impact.

The early years are at the heart of social mobility

NESTA 2018

Then, just as happened to hundreds of thousands of businesses and people across the country, the coronavirus turned our world upside down. Our entire philosophy is based on physical play, borrowing and sharing; things that just cannot happen in the current climate. And school closures have added a completely new dynamic to how we continue to support home learning, with our play libraries currently on pause and unable to reach families.

As with many other businesses, I was suddenly faced with the very real possibility that Boromi may not survive the year. Amongst all the financial planning and long chats with family, friends and mentors, I also knew that this is the most challenging time teachers and parents may possibly face.

This is when I came up with the idea for the free Boromi #dailyplay. Our business and ethos as an organisation up until this point had been very purposefully offline, but we had to adapt quickly to make sure that we could continue to help teachers and parents through this incredibly difficult time.

The daily play is, you guessed it, a free daily email with an activity for parents to do with their early years aged children, using bits and bobs from around the house to create exciting, play-based learning opportunities. We’ve celebrated some pretty special days along the way, including Purple Day with our big purple hunt, and even Eiffel Tower Day (who knew!).

The response to the #dailyplay has been humbling. We’ve seen over 1,700 teachers and parents join us after just a couple of weeks, and I’ve received so many lovely emails, messages and photos saying thank you and letting us know how useful they are. We’ve even gone global, being endorsed by the New York State Education Department which was a really pleasant surprise!

However, it’s important to remember that the homes who need this support the most may have little or no access to the internet or a suitable device. They may have language barriers that inhibits access, be without basic learning resources at home or simply not know the support is there for them to use. So, our next challenge is to work out a way to adapt our model in order to get boxes directly out to family homes who need them the most; not only equipping homes with essential, reusable learning materials, but also providing a range of simple and modelled play-based activities that families can explore and enjoy together.

Physical homework that goes home, we don’t get back, workshops they don’t come along to and our online learning programme, they’ve not been engaging in… But they engage in Boromi.
With Boromi, it's so obvious what it is. Your child has come home with a bag. It's not scary. They're not having to click anything, do anything. They know they just need to open the bag and play.

Early Years Foundation Stage Lead, Birmingham

On a personal level, the #dailyplay has also been a lifeline that has allowed me to still move forwards and continue to create, and fuel my passion for helping families. Instead of a summer spent feeling completely frozen by uncertainty, I now feel positive again about keeping the Boromi name alive, whilst staying true to who we are.

I am incredibly lucky to have a strong network of peers and mentors who have helped guide me through this tough time. The SHINE team in particular have been absolutely amazing, always sparing time for advice and support and I have found their belief in me – particularly over the past couple of weeks – both a source of strength and inspiring. They’ve helped me look at this period as one of learning, of growth in experience and of resilience.

The value of physical interaction, of sharing and learning together, will only be multiplied when life returns to some sort of normality. And when that happens, Boromi will be there to continue our mission.

We’re only two years old, and it’ll likely take us two years to recover. But recover we will and we’ll emerge stronger on the other side.

The Boromi story

By the age of five, 85 per cent of a child’s brain is already developed; learning more and faster than at any other time in their life. And it is these foundations that lay the building blocks for their future.  However, one-in-two children growing up within lower income homes across the UK are starting school without many of the important foundations they need to thrive and reach their potential. Last year alone, equating to 48,359 pupils. The gap between disadvantaged children and their better-off peers starts to grow from as young as two and gets increasingly more and more challenging to close.

Being a parent is one of the most difficult jobs there is, but we know that before the age of five, what a parent does at home with their child has a greater impact upon their development all the way to age 18, than any other factor such as family income, school environment or quality of teaching. Simply put, getting it right in the early years is critical, especially for those growing up within the most challenging circumstances. And the way to give children the best possible start, is to empower parents to actively and positively engage in their child’s learning at home.

Beginning life within the classroom, Boromi grew directly from my own first-hand experience of working with families across a diverse range of primary schools, from rural Scotland to inner city London. Through identifying common barriers and challenges faced by parents – such as knowing what to do, how to do it, feeling confident and being aware of the importance of their role in their child’s learning – I was able to create take-home resources for parents to borrow and take home. This was the very beginning of Boromi… And we’ve come a long way since then

Fast forward a couple of years and our multi-award-winning play libraries are available to families for free through our incredible network of partner schools and nurseries around the UK and we’ve already been enjoyed by more than 1,500 families across over 40 schools and nurseries.

Take a look at our 2018-19 impact report to read more