Continued fun throughout the Summer!
By now, your child might be preparing to enter your local public Pre-K program, Kindergarten, or even another early childhood setting. With the loss of in-person schooling this last year, it left many of us wondering, “How do we maintain high-quality settings and interactions if in-person education is reduced?” The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) published an article that sums up some of our early childhood -school closure questions, Making Connections. There’s No Such Thing as Online Preschool. Rhian Allvin makes the case that, “Preschool is about relationships and the learning that happens between children and teachers and among the children themselves. While there are tools online that can support children’s learning, the reality is that there is no online equivalent to preschool.”
For students in upper elementary and high school grades, online learning can be a viable option to sustain academic growth. For Pre-K and early elementary students, online resources are a useful tool, but only one of a variety of strategies that teachers can promote. So, what should we do as early childhood professionals over the summer months to prepare children and their families for the next, unpredictable, schoolyear? Below is a bulleted list of ideas to consider.
- Provide families with information regarding planned classroom instruction (units of study, learning standards addressed, daily schedules, routines, etc.) and encourage continued focus on these topics at home.
- In addition, express the importance and value of maintaining a daily schedule with routine transitions and expectations at home. This includes regular scheduled mealtimes, rest, bed time routines, etc.
- If possible, send home books and materials related to the curriculum that families can use alongside their children to promote and sustain learning.
- Encourage families (if health and weather allow) to get outside and explore nature. Provide suggestions for both structured and unstructured play. Encourage families to take and share photos/videos of their activities together.
- Provide ideas for hands-on projects or crafts that families can complete together. Consider giving them a game board (BINGO or Tic-Tac-Toe) which students can return when school resumes for recognition and even small prizes.
- Supply recipes for making play dough at home
- Challenge them to create new and exciting structures with blocks or Legos
- Utilize dramatic play materials to act out new people and places
- Have some old recyclable materials laying around? Create a new character or copy one from a favorite book.
- Suggest an “activity a day” calendar for the months of July and August
- Consider having play and learn groups in your classroom a few times during the summer so children can interact and familiarize themselves with your space.
- Offer activities related to relaxation and mindfulness strategies...these days can be very overwhelming and uncertain for young children and their caregivers.
- Consider using video-based platforms (FaceTime, Zoom, etc.) to interact with students while they are home.
- Record a video message from yourself talking to your students and provide them with ideas and updates on what you're up to. Share this with them and their families. See if they can respond in a similar format!
- Utilize social media (Facebook, Google Classroom, Classroom Dojo, etc.) to post privately to families directly.
- Above all else…express the importance of talking with the children and interacting with them throughout the day.
Nicole Madore M.Ed.
Early Childhood Specialist