As a teacher of three-to-five year-olds at Rainbows’ Early Care and Education Center: Kids’ Point, I try to be prepared for anything. I realize I cannot anticipate every challenge, every opportunity or every individual child’s need, but I know to expect the unexpected.
However, I was not prepared for a global pandemic. In March we look forward to Blarney Breakfast, March Madness basketball, spring weather and fun spring break vacations. The only problem, this year March brought COVID-19.
One month prior, Classroom 6 was full of 18 spunky, energetic, little friends learning new things they would need for Kindergarten readiness. We sang, danced, learned our alphabet and discovered through play, but soon the classroom numbers started to decline. When the Stay-At-Home Order went into effect, the number of children in my classroom was half of the number enrolled.
I understand why, but the classroom wasn’t the same and the friends who were still attending didn’t understand why their friends weren’t coming to school. As teachers, we have children in our care for eight or more hours a day throughout the week. We have a special bond with each and every one of the children. Teachers and classmates were sad because we didn’t know when we were going to see our friends again. Some of the students are set to graduate Pre-K, and they have so much more to learn and discover.
The services Rainbows provides are essential. The families we serve need us and the children need us. The children need to know we, the teachers, are still here to help them understand what’s happening in the world around them. We are committed to helping them understand their emotional and social health during this time. These aspects of life are just as important as eggs, milk, bread and toilet paper.
Rainbows took precautions right away. They ordered new cleaning supplies, canceled all current and future field trips, and added additional cleaning to the classrooms. Then Rainbows took extra precautions by adding hand sanitizers to all the entry doors, posting signs about what to look for, and scheduled deep cleaning twice daily throughout the facility. They limited the amount of people in the building by asking those who can work from home to do so.
I also stepped up my game. In order to keep the stay-at-home children learning and moving forward, I put together an educational packet. The packet was placed in a large envelope and mailed to every one of my students who were learning from home. I remember when I was a kid I loved getting mail and the surprise of opening the envelope to see what’s inside.
The support of the children and families didn’t stop at their learning packets. At least once a week, I take a picture of what we are doing in the classroom and provide a challenge to the stay-at-home kids. Parents immediately started sending me pictures back showing their child had accepted the challenge and achieved what I was asking. I print the pictures off and display them on our bulletin board so everyone can see, remember and feel connected to one another.
One of our classroom’s favorite days is Friday, our Show-n-Tell day. Before COVID-19, we had 18 very different toys we all got to explore and play with. We now sit on the circle carpet and video chat all our stay-at-home friends from our tablet. This gives all of us a chance to see each other and talk about how we are doing. The stay-at-home kids get to participate in Show-n-Tell with their friends in the class.
Classroom 6 will be keeping in touch with each and every one of our friends. We will continue to learn together, share together and know that we are here for each other.
By Miss Autumn, Classroom 6