Due to the Coronavirus pandemic, there are many preschool teachers who are wrestling with how to keep meaningful contact with their class while not having in person contact.
Below are a few helpful tips to that help you stay connected with the children you teach. They are guidelines. Be encouraged to make your online interactions represent who YOU are. Your children love you and will be so thrilled that they get to see you.
• Stay calm. Give yourself permission to feel a little awkward with your first interactions with children and families. Know that everyone understands these are very challenging and unique times. The fact that you are trying is 95% of the success.
• Be Positive. You don’t have to be fake, but keep your tone, words, and body language on the positive side. Say nice things about yourself, your family, and fun things you are doing.
• Encourage them. There is so much to do: read, play, build, draw, craft, talk to family, eat well, and get good sleep.
• Reassure them. You are doing well and that their parents and family love them.
• Tell them. Let them know you think about them. It is ok to tell them you miss them.
I recommend using Facebook if you want to do one-way communication. It is also easily accessible by many families.
If you want interaction, you can use Zoom. It is a terrific platform and is easily installed on cell phones and on laptops and computers. Zoom will allow a group of people to see each other and be able to talk to each other. Zoom is free right now during the outbreak, so you register for your own free account.
If you are ambitious, you can share your screen to show something on your computer or you could even prepare in advance to have a family member or two share their screens with the whole group. My recommendation at first would be to KEEP IT SIMPLE.
The key to success here, is to KEEP IT SIMPLE. As you repeat your online sessions, and you are seeing that they are going well, then you could try some enhancements.
• Read a book to them. Go slowly and give plenty of time to show the pictures. Be expressive and have fun with it. Make sure you position yourself in a way that you can be seen while reading and where you can hold the book up to the camera and have the entire page be seen. You might try practicing before you go live.
You could ask for book recommendations from families beforehand. You could even ask a parent to volunteer reading one of their favorite books (if you are using Zoom).
• Demo Handwashing. You could demonstrate the great handwashing that you have already been teaching them. Perhaps with a song. Encourage the students and families to pretend with you.
If you have someone who can hold the camera for you while you are live online, you could go to a sink and wash your hands for real.
• Encourage Exercise and Physical Activity. Exercise is very important at this time. Perhaps put together a simple 10-minute routine that children and families can do with you online. You will want to model and then ask the children to follow. Jumping jacks, knee bends, any simple yoga moves, and running in place. You can use this as a good time to practice counting. Example: “We are going to do 10 jumping jacks.” Count down from 10 and/or count up to 10.
• Sing some of your class’ favorite songs. Singing is fun, energetic and it helps form bonds between teacher, students, classmates and family.
If you are using Zoom, you can share your screen and broadcast a favorite short video or song. Many on Youtube have lyrics as well to help the parents with the words.
• Post Activities on your website or email them to families. Find some fun at-home activities to equip parents to engage with their children at home. For many parents, one of the hardest things is coming up with ideas. Again, keep them relatively simple so parents don’t feel overwhelmed.
• You can have families send in questions or topics that their children have.
• If you know who is online with you, please make sure you call the children by their names. Use names as much as you can.
• Share your ideas with other teachers and ask them what has worked well.
You can do this! The hardest part is getting started. It is not going to be perfect, but what is? Your students and families will love the experience and will remain connected to you and others.
What a great gift you will give children with your efforts, courage, vulnerability and love. After all, that is what being a teacher is all about!
Interested in reading more of my Coronavirus posts? See below.
WE HAVE GONE CORONAL
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MY ENCOUNTER WITH THE CORONAVIRUS
A BEAUTIFUL EVENING AT UTAH LAKE
YOU ARE POSITIVE FOR CORONAVIRUS
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WHEN THE STREETS HAVE NO FAME