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Is preschool still preschool when we learn at home?

The teachers have been back in the building for a few days now and we are spending a lot of time carefully preparing materials and planning for interactions that will support preschool learning at home. How can we ensure equity when thinking about what activities we want to do with the children and families in their own homes instead of in our classrooms? How can we ensure that all families have the technology needed to join the activities? How do we engage families and highlight the benefits of preschool and the strengths of the children and families when we are not meeting in person?

When thinking about materials and providing equitable experiences we decided that we wanted to choose materials that would allow children and families to have similar experiences as if they were in the classrooms. Art is an important language of childhood so this means we are including paper, crayons, paint, scissors, markers, and more so that the children can create regardless of what they might have at home. We also believe in the power of stories so of course we are sending home fun and engaging picture books. We are offering daily music classes which means that musical instruments and dance scarves need to go in the materials kit too.

We are fortunate to work for an agency that believes in providing the resources to all families to break down barriers to accessing our programs. As a result, every family who enrolls in our preschool is getting a brand new family iPad to use for the duration they are in the program. We know that not all families have the same technology confidence and skills so the family support staff will be available to help families learn how to use the iPad, how to use our class meeting apps, and how to use the apps to communicate with the teachers and school.

This global pandemic has taught us all about the need to engage families in new and differentiated ways and has reinforced to us all the critical role families play in the preschool learning partnership. It has made us think creatively about sharing with families the importance of preschool experiences even when the children cannot be in the physical classroom spaces. We all know that a preschool experience sets children up for elementary success by providing early experiences with language, literacy, math, and socialization. How do we replicate that in a virtual, home learning model? The same we do as if we were in person, just with a different way of providing the services! Whether learning in the classroom or learning at home and with an iPad, the benefits of preschool are still evident.

  • The children will participate in a consistent daily routine with a balance of free play, stories, and structured times with their teachers through virtual meetings. This daily routine helps prepare them for being in full day school at a later time.
  • The children will learn important early literacy and language skills through conversations and activities with teachers trained in child development and early learning.
  • The children will be introduced to new music, art, and creative movement which all support self-esteem and empathy.
  • The children will build relationships with their teachers and peers which will help transition them into a wider social circle in addition to the home circle.
  • The children will have fun as they try new things and meet new friends.

The start of the school year is just around the corner and we are eager to start learning with you! -Ms. Megan

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