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Can we build relationships while learning at home?

Tomorrow the teachers return to school after their summer break and we will start our pre-service week where we will be meeting to talk about curriculum, play, safety, and to share information about our plans and hopes for the year. We will meet to pack art materials, books, and toys into kits to support everyone’s play at home and I will obsessively count the family iPads to make sure they are ready to go. There will be meetings and trainings, but most of all there will be conversations centered around those first meetings and interactions with our new and returning students.

The relationships built between the teachers and children, between the children and each other, and between the families and the school are really the cornerstone of our program and the true foundation to the children’s learning. In a typical fall, the teachers will be headed to the children’s homes to meet their families and to be shown their favorite toys. The children would come in for play dates and the parents would join together for orientation and a parent-centered art project. And then, after all the preparations, we would open the preschool doors and the children and families would pour into the hallways and classrooms. The foundation would have been set and the year would start!

This year is different. While we won’t be visiting the families’ homes, we will still be meeting every child and family before school starts. Every family will come to the school for safe, individual, meetings with their teachers so the children can tell them about that favorite stuffed animal at home and the parents can share their hopes and dreams for their children. We won’t have a big orientation where the families are asked to be brave and paint a picture for their children to see at school. Instead we will meet one on one with families to answer their questions, calm fears, and share ways to stay connected with us using their family iPad. On the first day of school I won’t be standing outside greeting all the families and the teachers won’t be in the hallways ready to welcome everyone inside. Instead we will turn on our cameras, open up Zoom, and start the year online as we try not to laugh when the children push their faces up into the camera or when they learn how to unmute themselves and everyone is talking at once.

It’s not a typical year. But it is a new fall and with that brings the hope of new relationships and the joy of knowing we are building the foundation for the year’s successes. We won’t build relationships in the same way we usually do, but at the same time, we will build relationships exactly like we usually do–with love, patience, and anticipation for the new school year.

We can’t wait to meet you! -Ms. Megan

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