By Jessica Larson, SolopreneurJournal.com
The past year has been full of challenges for preschool teachers and child care providers. Many child care facilities have been forced to shut their doors, unable to keep operating amid health concerns and diminished enrollment.
In Virginia, for example, more than 2,261 child care centers — 40% of the state’s total — had closed their doors by July 14, 2020. This created problems for parents, and mothers in particular, as they struggled to deal with the added responsibility of looking after their kids while holding down jobs.
There’s no doubt that the pandemic has put preschool teachers and child care workers in a bind, in more ways than one. Closing can create financial hardship for you and your clients, some of whom may not return if and when you reopen. But staying open can entail health risks and the need for scrupulous attention to detail in keeping everyone safe.
Fortunately, there are resources available to help you. As the situation continues to evolve, here are some ideas on how to navigate what’s still to come.
Give your tech a boost
If you’re a child care provider who chooses to (and is able to) stay open, follow CDC safety guidelines to keep yourself, your children, and their families safe.
When indoors, ensure proper ventilation by keeping windows open, and eliminate HVAC air recirculation. Consider installing a mechanical filter. High-efficiency particulate air, or HEPA, filters are the most efficient at filtering particles out of the air. The next best thing is a filter with a MERV value of 14-16. (MERV stands for “minimum efficiency reporting value.”)
Make sure restroom fans are operating properly, and think about using ultraviolet germicidal radiation to kill the virus. Fixtures can be set up in such a way as to prevent direct exposure to those in the room.
While you’re at it, make sure you don’t miss a beat if the power goes out. If you live in an area that’s subject to harsh weather conditions or other factors that cause frequent outages, think about purchasing a portable backup generator, so your classes can continue without interruption.
Shore up classroom safety
Clean surfaces as often as possible, especially those that come into contact with food. Wash and sanitize any toys and materials used in learning activities after every use: Use water and detergent, then sanitize them with an EPA-approved disinfectant before rinsing them again. This is especially important since young children tend to put things in their mouths.
Maintain social distancing, and keep masks in place for everyone age 2 and older. Have kids wash their hands frequently and do the same, yourself. If you can’t wash your hands with soap and water, use hand sanitizer.
Explore what you can do remotely
Hands-on activities and interaction may be more important for young children than for anyone else, so remote preschooling can be difficult. If you decide you can offer some level of effective remote learning, be sure you have a good Wi-Fi connection, cameras, and microphones to ensure that your message gets across.
You can still do reading activities remotely, play games like rhyming games, or direct drawing activities. It’s not impossible. Remember, Big Bird and his friends have kept young children engaged remotely for years, so you can, too. If you need ideas, check out episodes of Sesame Street and other preschool, learning-based TV programs.
Boost your financial security
At a time when many child care and preschool workers aren’t able to work in the classroom, it’s also important to look after your own financial health.
The U.S. Labor Department this year expanded eligibility for unemployment benefits this year to include workers who faced unsafe workplaces, school employees not under contract, and parents who had to quit their jobs when child care centers closed.
If you’ve been affected, see whether you qualify for unemployment. In the meantime, plan for possible crises down the road by making sure your health and retirement plans are adequate.
In the longer term, start to think about protecting your family’s financial interests when you’re gone: Create an estate planning checklist that includes your will, executor, health directives, etc.
Nailing down big-picture considerations can free you up to focus on your immediate situation.
Operating a preschool or child care facility is a challenge under any circumstances — more than ever during a pandemic. These are just a few ideas to help you meet that challenge. What others can you come up with? The more you brainstorm, the more ways you’ll find to keep your children safe and engaged during the pandemic and beyond.
Here is a letter about gun safety that I shared with the families at the child care program I ran Dear Parents and Families: While I was on vacation in Florida this past January, I was a witness to a … Continue reading
The Fuzzy Caterpillar (Tune: Itsy Bitsy Spider)
The fuzzy caterpillar
Curled up on a leaf,
Spun her little chrysalis
And then fell fast asleep.
While she was sleeping
She dreamed that she could fly,
And later when she woke up
She was a butterfly!
Butterfly Song (Tune: Up on the Housetop)
First comes a butterfly and lays an egg.
Out comes a caterpillar with many legs.
Oh see the caterpillar spin and spin,
A little chrysalis to sleep in.
Oh, oh ,oh wait and see!
Oh, oh, oh wait and see!
Out of the chrysalis, my oh my,
Out comes a beautiful butterfly!
The Very Hungry Caterpillar Song
(sung to the tune of 10 Little Indians)
On Sunday, 1 little egg, on Sunday 1 little egg, on Sunday 1 little egg, out comes a caterpillar.
On Monday, 1 red apple, on Monday 1 red apple, on Monday 1 red apple, that’s what the caterpillar eats.
On Tuesday, 2 yellow pears, on Tuesday 2 yellow pears, on Tuesday 2 yellow pears, that’s what the caterpillar eats.
On Wednesday, 3 purple plums, on Wednesday 3 purple plums, on Wednesday 3 purple plums, that’s what the caterpillar eats.
On Thursday, 4 red strawberries, on Thursday, 4 red strawberries, on Thursday, 4 red strawberries, that’s what the caterpillar eats.
On Friday, 5 oranges, on Friday 5 oranges, on Friday 5 oranges, that’s what the caterpillar eats.
On Saturday, too much food, on Saturday, too much food, on Saturday, too much food, that’s what the caterpillar eats.
On Sunday, 1 green leaf, on Sunday, 1 green leaf, on Sunday, 1 green leaf, that’s what the caterpillar eats.
In his cocoon, he goes to sleep, in his cocoon, he goes to sleep, in his cocoon, he goes to sleep, that’s what the caterpillar does.
Out comes a butterfly, out comes a butterfly, out comes a butterfly, isn’t that a great surprise!
Pom Pom Caterpillar– Supply pompoms, googly eyes and glue, let children construct their own caterpillars.
Dotty the Caterpillar-Have children use Bingo Markers to create a caterpillar, by marking circles in a line! Add legs, antennae and face with a crayon or marker.
Butterfly Salad (Serves one)
2 Pineapple rings
Green olives sliced in 1/2
Slice pineapple rings in 1/2 to use a an outline of the butterfly’s wings Use celery stick as the body Place cottage cheese inside of pineapple ring Decorate the cottage cheese with food coloring, you can also add carrot sticks for antennae.
Here is a review of the top child care news stories that we featured in our newsletter in 2020
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With our annual subscriptions of child care training a staff member can take as many of our online classes as they need or want. Subscriptions are transferable. The subscription is valid for 1 year from the date of issue.
With our unlimited subscription of child care training you can take as many of our online classes as you need or want. New classes that are added are included. The subscription is valid for 1 year from the date of issue.by
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Check out our feature in Redfin’s latest article: “Home Solutions for Balancing Work and Parenting”
If you thought never in a million years you’d be sharing your office space with your children, think again. The spread of COVID-19 is forcing parents to work from home while helping their oldest manage remote school and coordinating who has diaper duty for the youngest.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the around-the-clock attention your kids demand and the never-ending emails, you’re not alone. Parents all over the country, from New York to Portland, are feeling the same struggle. I was asked to share one of my best tips to help you find creative home solutions for working from home and parenting. Check out what I had to say!by
By Rachel Reid
Life as we knew it is now a distant memory. With the shutting of schools, I have constantly been in a state of processing my thoughts and feelings about this new world we are living in. On one hand, especially for an introvert like myself, it’s freeing and relaxing being told to stay at home and avoid contact with other people. I get to spend time with my kids and puppy. I’m home to actually work on my house and cleaning efforts. And I finally have time to do some of my favorite things: writing, gardening, and doing fun projects (like online videos for the toddlers I teach). On the distant other hand, everything is unclear, unpredictable, and somewhat terrifying. Feeling lonely has never sunk as deeply. And being a single mom of a teenaged daughter and a preteen son is alienating and challenging at best.
Then, there’s this new entity that we’re trying to create as an emergency knee-jerk reaction to schools closing. Online preschool. As a toddler teacher, I fully endorse the benefits of group care for both providing supervision for working parents, but also for building language, social and emotional skills. In my line of work, the norm is to strive to always reach higher goals in our own practices. So I also fully embraced online teaching when I was told that schools were closing. This was my way to continue to bring that quality care to the families I work with.
That was at first, when I was still in the metamorphosis phase of staying at home due to COVID-19. The honeymoon phase, in which my schedule flowed with my family’s needs, pressures and deadlines were temporarily lifted, and people were communicating and supporting each other in local communities in ways we never had before. I don’t exactly know what phase to call right now, but the honeymoon has definitely worn off. As schools around the country scramble to provide online education, it brings a lot of questions with it. What is important to be teaching children in a time like this? What are the main goals of education overall, and how can we deliver these outcomes through distance learning? I still don’t think there’s a consensus. But while we’re all still figuring it out, I am appreciating the conversations and debates that are popping up everywhere. And at the same time, being a preschool teacher puts me in the category of people who stand to benefit more from unemployment than working full time.
Now that I have applied for unemployment, I feel a bit more comfortable in my “volunteer” status of working. I am still meeting with coworkers and students in Zoom a few mornings and afternoons a week, as well as staff meetings in evenings (after teachers with young children have put their kids to bed), and making videos inspired by Mr. Rogers and Sesame Street for my students. My role as a mentor for amateur teachers has continued, though I feel more like a television producer than a teacher. Convincing adults to talk to puppets, to record the world around them, to look at everything as a teachable moment, has brought life to our videos. We are all very hopeful that our online classroom is supporting parents in this time, rather than overwhelming them. I’m looking forward to updating my resume to include my new technological skills!
I miss the hugs. The genuine curiosity. The unabashed silliness. The magical face-brightening smiles. I miss the children. And I miss their families. I miss the routine of reminding children to hang up their coats in their cubbies, come into the classroom, wash their hands, and begin to engage in an activity that would then spark discussion, thinking, learning. I miss teaching. Performing is not exactly my strong point, but to reach the children I miss so deeply, I will follow in the footsteps of Fred Rogers and Jim Henson, my lifelong heroes, and provide respectful quality educational videos: the preschool of the times.by
In a rush to convert preschool and pre-k programs to online classrooms, we must not lose sight of developmentally appropriate practice. So many programs are requiring their teachers to continue virtual teaching on the internet. Google rooms and Zoom are increasing in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic. We know that we should limit screen time for young children and yet the trend seems to be to slip back to using worksheets and asking children to be more passive in watching videos or presentations.
Now is not the time to toss out everything we know about developmentally appropriate practice and play based learning.
Using technology with young children is not a black or white issue. Used thoughtfully, technology can be a great tool. Turning to apps like Zoom and Google rooms that have long been used for secondary and adult education should not mean that you have to use them in the same manner.
Remember, we know that young children learn best in relationship based care practices. Stated simply, relationships are the “active ingredients” of the environments. We can promote connections and relationships in a virtual setting.
In his article, Beyond Screen Time: Better Questions for Children and Technology in 2020, Chip Donahue asks,” What are the implications of children using technology tools that were designed for adults? “He lists these important considerations:*
- Old theory informs the use of new tools. The work of Maria Montessori, Jean Piaget, Lev Vygotsky, B.F. Skinner, Seymour Papert and Howard Gardner, remind us that even as the tools, technologies and context changes rapidly, child development remains constant.
- Relationships matter most. Fred Rogers taught us that it is not about the technology, it’s about relationships. Educators and parents can select and use interactive media that invites and encourages interactions with others, promotes social emotional learning, enables co-viewing and joint engagement.
- Early childhood “essentials” are always essential. Play, open-ended materials and manipulatives, large motor activities, time outdoors and social interactions are just as important in the digital age as ever. Educators and parents can avoid displacing or replacing essential early childhood experiences with screen-based technologies. It doesn’t have to be either/or.
- Proper pedagogy complements technology tools. Young children need support to become makers, media creators and digital storytellers, STEM learners, computational thinking and coders.
- Technology-mediated family engagement and nudges work. Use tools to enhance family engagement and relationships, help families keep in touch at a distance and strengthen parent-child interactions.
With those considerations in mind, here are a few ways that early childhood professionals are virtually connecting and engaging young children.
- Start out by just letting them see their friends and their teacher. Give the children ample time to explore the new technology. For your first few times, you may allow them to talk and play around.
- Most programs require that a parent is in attendance with the child at all times.
- Just like in a classroom setting, small groups are better, shorter duration is better. Some programs split their group into smaller group groups of 4 or 5 children for a 10 minute session rather than meet with 20 children for 30 minutes or more.
- Once you start any structured time, you may find it helpful to mute children until you wish for them to interact.
- Make sure each child has a time to talk, demonstrate or share at least once.
- Keep it simple, a greeting song, a story and an interactive movement activity or game may be plenty. Just remember not to let it turn into a show and tell on your end.
- You can send along a list of materials and directions for parents if you wish to try to do a craft of project together.
- Be creative and ways to engage and interact. Have a virtual picnic or tea time together.
- Encourage them to get up and move, share a yoga pose or try a short workout routine. Perhaps, Have a dance party
- There are some great virtual field trips that you can share.
- One popular activity is scavenger hunts. Asking the children to find and show the group what they found.
Check out our online class: Staying Connected Online Class
*Used with Permission , Entire Article is here:
For Further Readingby