Early Childhood Express May 2020

Child fingerpaints a rainbow on a window

“You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.” — Christopher Robin

This quote is painted on my granddaughters’ bedroom wall and, somehow, it seems apropos to our times. You are out there working in a different space…working very differently from your classroom or personally in a family’s home. You’ve spent your career creating a classroom space focused on children’s learning and now, as I’ve heard from some of you, that space is not accessible…and certainly not accessible to the children and families that you serve. And, if your program was built around home visits…as most infant-toddler programs are…homes are off-limits to you for the time being except virtually. But what an opportunity to learn about yourself…your strengths as a teacher, your bravery in facing something new and using all of your skills…your ‘smarts’ to make it happen.

So, here’s a little reflection for you. 

What are you learning?

About yourself…as a teacher, as a person who can be flexible, and approach change bravely (after taking several deep breaths.)

About the children…how are they adapting and growing while learning at home?

About the families you’re working with…how are they adapting and learning along with their children?

Are there things you’ve learned that can help families learn to be developmentally appropriate teachers?

Are there things you’ve learned that might lead to changes in how you practice when things get back to the new ‘normal?’ 

I certainly had a great time sitting in on Kerri’s Tuesday morning Connect and Collaborate with Coffee.  What great ideas teachers are coming up with to help families and their children in this time of separation. You can join in too…every Tuesday morning at 9:00 until June 23.

Kerri has also set up a messaging board you can join to connect, share resources, and gather information.  Join up at ESD 113 Pre-K Teachers Collaboration Site.

We’ve been looking hard for resources to help you and the families you serve teach those wiggly mites at home. We know, of course, that learning is occurring all the time. But it’s great to be able to give ideas for families about things they can do to promote learning…and, give you some ideas you can use in your on-line, video-conferencing, dropping off packets new teaching reality.

Our Public Broadcasting Systems (PBS) have jumped into the fray with websites of activities that families can use.  Here are a few:

  • Families can find many resources for young children at the PBS site. Along with literacy activities, there are articles.  One that caught my eye was on how to support children with autism under the ‘Thrive’ menu.
  • The KBTC site has the KBTC Kids site with links to video and game resources including information on how to talk with children about COVID-19.
  • Your Seattle PBS station, KCTS, has resources for families from preschool through high school as well as some resources for teachers new to virtual teaching.
  • Finally, my favorite that I send up to my daughter every day is the KSPS daily newsletter that has activities for preschool through high school

Kristi Mraz, whom some of you may have seen when you participated in her Purposeful Play workshops, has a Play Packet for families.  She gives a nice introduction about the importance of play and its importance in learning.  She also focuses primarily on using things found around the house.

Facebook actually has a page dedicated to at-home activities for preschoolers.  Hosted by Vanessa, it includes academic and play activities, songs and books.

I found an article from the Small Business Journal of tips for parents juggling working from home and kids.

Many of you are preparing packets that you send out to or drop off for families. The website, PreKinders, is offering materials you can copy and send out to families. As I was searching for the Prekinders web address I noted several other sites that offer materials also. If you search for Prekinders instead of going directly to their website several of these sites will come up for you to explore.

OSPI has created the document Supporting Inclusionary Practices During School Facility Closure-Guidance for Special Eductation during school Closure.  OSPI also has a page of resources geared to different age levels.  Though the preschool page is not vast, it has some good stuff.

The Pandemic has given us a great opportunity (though we may not feel like it is) to not only stretch our skills but to help families become confident and competent teachers of their children.  Giving them activities with instructions to carry out learning with their children is important.  But, guess what!  We’re helping families recognize the importance of their children’s play; that the learning that comes from that play is just as important as the structured activities we’ve provided; and that they can support that learning through play by observing their children’s interests and being the guide on the side as they support that play. We can hope that this new learning carries over so that children are actively engaged in learning at home as well as at school.

Keep swimming” – Dory

This article was contributed by Mary Perkins for the Early Childhood Express newsletter.