During this unprecedented time in America and across the globe, the Institute for Childhood Preparedness is committed to providing the most accurate information about the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. We are fortunate that our Executive Director, Andrew Roszak, previously served as the Senior Director of Pandemic Preparedness for 3 years, where he worked full time, each day, with the CDC and the 3,100 local health departments to help prepare communities for pandemics.
As of March 22, 2020, 46 states have closed K-12 schools for at least two weeks, with some preparing to close until the end of the school year. We know that these abrupt closures can be hard for parents, children, staff, teachers, child care providers, and early childhood professionals. We reached out to Rachael Kestenbaum, a kindergarten teacher from Pennsylvania, to find out the best ways to stay focused, educated, entertained, and active while practicing social distancing at home.
Rachael graduated from West Chester University with a Bachelor’s degree in early childhood education, and she is certified from Prek-3. She returned to West Chester University to get her Master’s in reading, and she is currently a dedicated kindergarten teacher, with a decade of experience. When I asked Rachael about her school closing for two weeks, she said, “Right now, parents just need to find ways to keep kids engaged, and it does not have to be all academic-based. It’s important to continue learning at some capacity, to stay active, and to integrate outside play along with learning.”
To keep kids learning and growing during the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, Mrs. Kestenbaum suggests:
Kids should write notes to their teachers about what they’re doing while they’re home from school.
Kids can also video message their teachers using the seesaw app.
It’s important to stick to routines and to keep things as normal as possible.
Create a structured visual schedule every day, which is something that kids are used to at school. This can be handwritten or written on an iPad or computer. Have it displayed prominently, so your child is aware of the expectations for the day.
Include lunch, snacks, and “special” (arts and crafts, PE, and music).
Also, include personal at-home chores into the daily schedule.
If your child’s teacher provided worksheets or websites, use them!
Incorporate the work into your child’s daily schedule, and spread it out over the time you’re home.
Make it fun and interactive! Have your kids moving and allow screen time--educational or not (they deserve a break too!) Whatever works best for you!
Parents should join in on the activities if they can, such as dancing, yoga for kids, baking, scavenger hunts, playdough hand strengthening and letter formation, chalking sight words, and whatever else your kids love!
Here are great learning resources from Mrs. Kestenbaum:
Educational companies are offering free subscriptions due to school closings.
Sign up for free and search for lesson plans for your child. You can even find free templates for daily schedules, and you can create worksheets.
These are some of my favorite websites that I use in my classroom that are offering free trials with great resources.
A free 30-day trial of Scholastic’s non-fiction magazine for Kindergarten.
Day-by-day projects for children so they can continue to learn and grow at home.
Science and social studies, videos, games, worksheets, and other great resources.
Movement and relaxation breaks.
Letter and name printing practice.
Art For Kids Hub on YouTube -- super cute, step by step drawing lessons for kids!
Many zoos, museums, aquariums, and gardens are doing virtual tours while they are closed to the public.
Always free and awesome reading and math resources:
Thank you so much for providing this helpful information, Mrs. Kestenbaum! We hope to see you back in the classroom soon. You can find the latest news, resources, and information about our online coronavirus training course for early childhood professionals here: https://www.childhoodpreparedness.org/corona.
Also, if you’re a teacher, child care provider, or early childhood professional and you’re looking for ways to continue your education while at home, consider becoming a P4 Member today. You’ll receive 7 courses, 3.5 hours of training, unlimited course access for one full year, and many more extras for only $139/year, which is a savings of over $20 per course. Find out more today: https://www.childhoodpreparedness.org/online.