How can you teach preschool on a screen?
So much of preschool is about socialization and play. Because of that, it’sreally hard to imagine teaching this age over Zoom. Although it's not what we ever would have imagined, we have some great plans and strategies about doing exactly that.
This program is perfect for families who are not yet ready to have their children on campus and in a classroom with other children, but would like their children to continue being a part of the TSONS community and would like to give their child's day some of the same structure school brings.
THE MORNING MEETING
Our day will begin with a Zoom. The class will come together, just as we do at rug time at school. In this way we are able to
- build our community
- connect with each child
- give parents a predictable routine (and a time when their child is independently engaged)
The first Zoom of the day may include:
- our morning song (every zoom call should begin in the same way to give their school day predictability and structure)
- calendar (exposure to and familiarity with days, months and patterns)
- an active activity (dancing, music, game)
- child participation
- a discussion of "the play plan"
THE PLAY PLAN
We know the value of play. We believe in play. We also know that these children have been home in their houses for a LONG time. They may need guidance from teacher in their play.
This part will be somewhat flexible. As we begin our year, we will give some instruction. An example would be guiding all of them to build the highest structure then can imagine. Then take a picture or show us on our afternoon Zoom. Another example would be find as many animals as you can in your house. Build a home for them. What do you think you can use? We will guide them towards ideas. Let them build off of one another's ideas (blocks, rocks and sticks, pillows ) bringing in that collective cooperation of the group.
THE AFTERNOON MEETING
The afternoon at home can feel long. With this instructional model, we are not bound by our traditional hours. Instead, we can set a second meeting for later in the day. This second session will include:
- a story time and discussion
- sharing our morning play (through discussion, pictures or bringing your device near to what you made)
- a quiet connection and ending to our day
SNACK TIME/ LUNCH TIME
Once a week , each child will have a snack time with a teacher and 2 - 3 friends (for a 1:3 or 1:4 ratio). This will be another opportunity for relationship building for teachers and students as well as among friends in the class. Teachers will be able to really listen to where the kids are at that moment in these conversations. This is a 10 - 20 minute session that each child will have once a week.
ELEMENTS OF OUR VIRTUAL CLASSROOM
SOCIAL EXPOSURE + SOCIALIZATION
While our early weeks may be about social exposure, as children get to know one another they will have an outlet for socialization. We have noticed that children are watching and learning from one another, even virtually, and we have developed games and activities to help them continue this way.
We have all been home for a very long time. With the beginning of school again, we hope to lend a hand in creating the routines and rhythms, even while continuing to remain at home.
INDEPENDENCE + AUTONOMY
One of the elements of the Pre-K year is growing independence. This is something we will be able to continue to teach virtually. Children will be responsible for their own materials. They will be supplied with their own school box and will ensure that they have it with them for each meeting. Parents are not required to be next to the child during these meetings (though are welcome to be if they prefer).
FINE MOTOR AND GROSS MOTOR ACTIVITIES
Preschool is an important time of growth in so many ways. Both fine motor and gross motor development is critical during these early years. These activities will be balanced across the week on our Zooms. Parents will know ahead of time if a child is to bring supplies to a zoom or if the device should be set up in a space or manner that will allow the child more freedom of movement.
LETTERS, NUMBERS AND STAR OF THE WEEK
In the Pre-K classroom, our curriculum has an introduction and exposure to letters and numbers as a pillar component. We are able to continue this exposure through our virtual classroom, ensuring that our children will be well prepared for kindergarten. Star of the Week is always a highlight in the classroom. We have found ways that it can translate to our virtual classroom as well, ensuring that children do not miss out on that special role.
WAITING YOUR TURN/USING YOUR VOICE
For some children, learning to wait your turn is a hard job, and one that is important to be guided to learn in these early years. For others, learning to use your voice in a group setting can be the hard job. With small virtual class sizes, teachers are able to encourage a child’s growth in the way each child most needs.
Learning to sit and listen are important skills in the Pre-K class and these are still able to be gained virtually. Auditory memory is an important component of our classroom rugtimes and this translates well to the activities we are able to continue over Zoom. Through these activities, children will build comprehension, stamina and conceptualization.
While this program is solely an off-campus, virtual program, we know that our community relationships are important elements for all of us at TSONS. With these small class sizes, teachers hope to have the opportunity to understand even better what is important for each individual child to be working on and towards. Parents and teachers will be a team more than ever before, strategizing how to give them the parts of school that we can while we are not actually within the school walls. While nothing can be an exact replacement for our classroom conversations, we will work to build the bonds between teachers and families in our new, virtual way, until the time that we can all be back together in person.Virtual Pre-K PDF