These are perilous times…not just because of the threat of catching a life-changing virus but the systemic racism that pervades our country and the subsequent protests devolving into riots that are moving through our cities. Children see this. They are curious…why? What do we say to them. CNN posted an article on what to say if you are at a loss for words…the first tip…take care of yourself. Here’s the link.
Best news of the Pandemic…a preschool teacher has been named National Teacher of the Year by the Council of Chief State School Officers. Praised for hope and inspiration, Tabatha Rosproy teaches in Winfield School district in rural Kansas in a program housed in, and blended with, a retirement and nursing home. Children in the program after a year showed the highest literacy and math scores in the district and formed close connections with residents. For those of you who have been around the early childhood field for a while, you will know that this recognition is something we’ve fought for in our communities, our districts, and our legislatures. We’ve made speeches; we’ve marched (peacefully); written letters. Perhaps this is the recognition we need to finally be able to know, whether you’re a Head Start teacher, a child care provider, or a special education teacher, we are critical contributors to children’s success…in school and in life.
If you’re in the throes of figuring out how you’re going to take data on your kiddoes on your Zoom screen, Chris Cole has a remedy for you. She is using Google Forms and has created a video to show you how.
And, thinking about data…the upcoming end of the school year brings COS time…the time when we need to update their entry Child Outcomes Summary if they are moving out of our program. As you know, filling out the exit COS is a collaborative effort among families, teachers, and therapists. ECTA has some updated COS information that takes into account that everything now must be done remotely. It includes information on team planning, connecting with families, use of the decision tree, and other pertinent information and advice.
Harvard Centers on the Developing Child has published a new resource relating to some of the implications of COVID-19 as children and their families are at home. In The Brain Architects Podcast: COVID-19 Special Series: Domestic Violence and Shelter-In-Place Sally Pfitzer and Dr. Tien Ung explore the idea that home is not always a safe place to shelter, especially when parents are expected to be teachers, may be having financial worries, and may be handling the education of multiple children. Though we may be only seeing families via computer, we still have the responsibility of reporting suspected child abuse. If you suspect domestic violence is happening please report it either locally or contact the National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-SAFE (7233).
Olympia’s Hands On Children’s Museum, while closed to young (or old) visitors for the moment, has made available some videos for teachers and families to use. Dr. Science and Teacher Betsy Story Time both have several videos that can enhance children’s home learning, be used as part of your Zoom lesson plans, or just watched to keep kids engaged while parents engage their other children in learning.
I’m a long-time fan of Richard Luov, author of Last Child in the Woods, and an advocate of children exploring and learning in the outdoors. That’s why, when I saw some new offerings from Learning Revolution about Youth Learning Through National Parks, I thought what a terrific introduction for young children… and some great entertainment for their families to perhaps watch together. “Educating the whole child” should include experiential learning in local communities, states, and regions. National Park sites represent our nation’s most significant landscapes, ecosystems, and historical/cultural sites.’ Though, yes, I believe that young children need to learn from the ground up in their homes, their, yards, their communities, this is a wonderful opportunity to spark learning the whole family can enjoy and jump off with some close to home ideas of their own.
In a week filled with bad news, here’s something good…NECCO wafers (a tasty candy for those of you unfamiliar) are coming back after two years…with enhanced chocolate. Hitting your store shelves in early June!
It’s been a difficult few months, learning new skills, mastering technology, working more closely with families. You’ve accomplished a lot. So let me invite you to contemplate as I did last month: What have you learned…about the children and families you’ve been working with; about new skills that you never thought you’d need; about yourself…as a teacher…and as a human. Next year will be better…a new chance to use your new skills.
What will you do with your one wild and precious life? Mary Oliver
Goodbye to the Year
The end of such a strange year for you, for the children, and for the families is coming quickly. That this past few months has been difficult…not actually ‘seeing’ the children you work with in the flesh; not having access to the place you feel secure, knowing you’re successful. So now you’re heading in to do the usual packing up of your classroom so that spaces can be cleaned and ready for fall. But what will fall bring? It’s all so unknowable as we try to contemplate and begin to make plans for September.
As you’re working and while you’re saying adios to your families, here are some things to think about:
- What do I know might be contingent possibilities for the way we will serve children next year?
- How might you vision what your program might look like under those possible contingencies?
- How might it impact the children who will be coming…will we end up being restricted to just IEP students? How might our blended programs be impacted?
- Transportation and food service are things that impact school schedules. How might some of the visions that you have impact busses and meals?
- How can you be part of decision-making at the district level to make certain that preschool is on the agenda?
- Do you have data that shows the impact of virtual school for young children? What are some of the issues that arose that must be attended to before a decision is made to continue as things have been this spring?
But, while thinking about these things, take care of yourself. Plan an enjoyable summer. Plan activities that feed your soul…exercise, good books, socially distanced activities with family and friends, quality rest.
‘Stay safe, stay healthy, stay away from the killer monster hornets, we love you.’
This article was contributed by Mary Perkins for the Early Childhood Express newsletter.