Early Childhood Express October 2020

Mother and child smiling on a fall day

Don’t know about you but fall has definitely happened in my neighborhood. A few lonely leaves have fallen and are luring their friends who are still attached but yellowing. If I had to bet on naked trees I’d give it nine days. And yet, the lawn still needs to be mowed. Death and growth all going on at the same time…guess that’s the meaning of autumn.

Virtual meetings make us long for the days of in-person, face-to-face connections. It’s easy to think this new style of connecting isn’t as effective as the good ol’ conference room. While virtual teams experience their own set of challenges, research shows us our remote work might be more efficient than we realize. This year might make you think you need all new strategies to get through; but there are small adjustments you can make for big impact. Check out the PBIS September Teach by Design and find out how focusing on building trust, modifying a few meeting foundations, and relying on data can make your virtual meetings better than you thought they could be.

As you are continuing to welcome new children and their families into your program, they may be hesitant about participating in virtual visits. The ECTA Center has created testimonial videos to prepare families for these virtual visits. These short testimonials describe the ease of use and benefits of virtual home visits. Five families share their experiences with virtual home visits and reveal their initial concerns, impressions, hopes, and successes. The videos address families where they are, whether they are new to EI/ECSE and want to better understand virtual visits or want to make the most of their providers’ expertise during and in between virtual visits.

And another new ECTA resource emphasizes practices that have proven effective in meeting the challenges of providing services to young children with disabilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. The key practices are: Partnering with Families, Family-Centered Service Provision, Effective Teaming and Collaboration, and Maximizing the Use of Technology. Each area also includes a set of questions for group discussion or self-reflection.

Most of you know that I’m fond of…and a follower of…Choice Literacy’s Big Fresh newsletter. I recently found this gem in which Patti Shepherd shares the power of choice boards in supporting distance learning. In this article she provides a slide presentation that shows how to make a choice board and, though hers is focusing on older students, her directions and concepts are pretty clear and, I think, provide a good explanation of how to create a choice board. Among other things, I think choice boards can provide a spot for caregivers to tune in and enhance children’s learning between virtual sessions.

We’ve done some wondering about the impact of masks on children’s learning, especially language learning and social/emotional development. Zero to Three readers found a good article on this in the New York Times which looks at both areas and basically concludes that if masks are not worn by adults full time there should be no disadvantages to development.

The University of Oregon has a really interesting project – Rapid Assessment of Pandemic Impact on Development (RAPID) – Early Childhood where they take continuous surveys to assess various impacts of the crisis on children and families. They report out every couple of weeks, and this week’s is about the burden that families have taken on in supporting their children’s remote learning. Good things for us to think about as we work with families remotely.

October, tuck tiny candy bars in my pockets and carve my smile into a thousand pumpkins…. Merry October!–Rainbow Rowell