Early Childhood Professionals Around the World Share Ideas on Connecting with Children During the Pandemic

These are some of the ideas on connecting with children in the current crisis shared by participants in the April 22, 2020 conversation in Bonnie’s Global Café.

Gabriel Limjoco, Philippines

We have virtual classes 3 days a week, but we send home activities and what has been working well is how the parents send photos and videos of how their child did an activity. It helps the teachers get to know the child and do some assessments of the child’s development. We’ve tried to make it “family school” which includes guiding the parents in observing their children and playing with them. Many of our children also have nannies so we do some guidance for the nannies as well.

Marilyn Brink, United States

Not necessarily innovative, but our Head Start multi-site program has been providing options for families. Teachers are hosting Zoom meeting 2 times per day. Families can attend both if they like however the same content is presented. Classes sing their welcome song and activities that are part of their routines. Teachers read/show a story and talk/show families about a follow-up art experience using items from home. Additionally, there is a private Facebook group where staff have posted outdoor color hikes (using crayons to match up colors in NatureStart), song feats and children/families can share examples of what they have been doing. Families are also connected with other online opportunities such as our local zoo has a Facebook live animal visitor every day at the same time so children can know to count on that (or check-in whenever if they can’t be on live or want to watch again and again). Families also receive calls/emails once per week or more if they would like. All Head Start service areas including mental health are available to families and a Zoom parent meeting is planned for next week.

Omayma Bakhiet, United Arab Emirates

Morning greetings via what’s app, Zoom for circle time, Zoom for activities and assessment Email for the plan, What’s app feedback from parents (videos and pictures) to help the assessment, and Facebook group and website for updates.

Carol Osborn, United States

Our Organization is one of training/coaching and mentoring of early care teachers. We support the teachers working with the children through the West Ed Program for Infant Toddler Care. We also have begun a Be Well Care Well program to support teacher wellness, through training and coaching on personal needs of the care teachers through support for good health, nutrition, exercise and personal issues, that may affect their work with children. During this time, many programs are not operating. For those who are, we will have a lunch and learn program, where lunch will be delivered to the providers who are still working and a short training on a relevant topic will be given by phone or online contact during that time.

Ruhi Thakkar, India

Our organization is working with teachers to help them not just take a curriculum designed online class but also to help them create different ways in which a balance between screen time study and life skills can be found. This helps teachers and parents bring in innovative ideas for spending time and giving knowledge to the children. Simple things like a movement activity that will make it fun and complete a household chore or an activity that helps sensory activities and imagination. Children are encouraged to come to their respective balconies and play games like rock-paper-scissors or name place animal thing. Learn to cook or stitch are encouraged to enhance life skills in children.

Juliana Gatti-Rodrigues, Brazil

Some Indoor nature-inspired activities – remember and share memories of moments in nature with children among family members. It can be adults’ memories from when they were children also. Trips and places they went together. Favorite landscapes, animals, seasons, etc. – choose nature pictures from magazines, from the family together in natural areas, and make a living mural glued on a wall > listen to nature sounds during different moments of the day, sense how each sound changes the mood, feelings, sensations.. birds singing, water of river, farm, fireplace, waves of the sea, rain, night animals, forest, whales, etc > bring some natural elements for inside the house: stones, sand, soil, water in different temperatures, sticks, leaves – sense different textures, play with them, make them part of the indoor environment > find seeds of all food you cook everyday and plant them in pots or cotton and then transplant to soil > in the beginning of the day let every person in the house became a natural element and create stories to play being that animal or element throughout the day, create masks or tags to identify your character > create scenarios of nature inside the house, camping place, ponds, sea, live dreaming thematic days of nature trips all family together > watch nature documentaries, go through nature picture books. Make drawing of nature before and after the movie and picture observations > observe the sun and shadows inside the house, or through the window > if possible hug trees outside > make activities with flowers, palm leaves or other natural fibers to create creative nests, necklaces, head garments, dolls and just free play with natural elements creating creatures or whatever the imagination brings > “cook” with natural elements

Lyn Rafferty, Canada

As a dayhome consultant/coordinator we are visiting the homes remotely via face time and making those connections with our educators and children that they have in care. We are supporting the educators every day, offering loads of information along with great webinars and conferences that are being offered through the web. Our educators and our ourselves post-learning stories via Story Park to share with the families, just trying to keep a bit normal to our children’s day as we all know how tough this situation can be.

Tish Wilson, United States

My son and his wife who have been teaching in China are here at our house with their four and six-year-old – – our granddaughters age until they are all allowed to return to China. Our son and daughter-in-law are teaching their students online and our granddaughters are receiving their kindergarten and pre-K classes online via Zoom as well. It has turned out to be a great way for them to connect with their classmates. In addition, I am doing fun homeschooling activities with them which includes a lot of nature since we live up in the mountains.

Margaret Akinware, Nigeria

Two of FPCD member NGOs are reaching out to children of different age categories through ECD providers/ caregivers as well as teachers of primary school children through the use of digital teaching and learning. The ECD Carers and teachers are taught how to engage with children now at home for through meaningful play and learning activities, to develop into routines or schedules. Teachers are taught to follow the government curriculum for each level of education

Anat Bar, Israel

We have organized groups for reading books with parents and children in ZOOM software. We distributed children and parents enclosures with second-hand books and toys to the house. We ran parent lectures at ZOOM.

Paige Wattie, Canada

We are using our family sharing platform: Storypark to record various storytimes, sing alongs, guessing games, and activity ideas for families. We have also used Storypark to keep the children updated in the development of our ‘Seeds of Empathy’ baby who had been visiting the preschoolers on a monthly basis for the year. This way, families can access the information when it is convenient for them. We have also placed calls into families to see that they are doing okay as well as emails to check-in.

Jennifer Lichtsinn, United States

We are doing a virtual LIVE storytime each day and sending home weekly plans for parents to hold a preschool time in their home each weekday. We are meeting with individuals virtually as needed and especially with those children who have developmental delays. Our staff in working from home, getting lots of staff development. Our school is sending breakfast and lunch out each day through the bus stops.

Adedayo Olofinnika, Nigeria

We’re currently sending out Developmental Appropriate Worksheets and resources to our pupils through their parents in order to meaningfully engage them during this lockdown period. Also, we’re currently setting up our ‘G-Suite for Education’ in order to reach the children through online classes.

Elizabeth Hicks, Canada

Some centres have taken on the 1000 hours outdoor challenge – before the pandemic. But they have continued this initiative, asking Families to record each day how long they were outdoors and the centre’s are keeping a record – with photos of what they are doing. One centre is putting together a floor book of these photos with the comments from the Families and chidlren, to use as a reflective tool when the children return.

Synovia Moss, United States

We are connecting faith leaders with early learning professionals to host a free Brain Matters film screening at home along with a Brain Building Family Toolkit of free activities and downloads of resources.

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Dr. Deborah Schein
Guest
Dr. Deborah Schein

I have been enriched from hearing from all of these individuals. Thank you for sharing. I would like to share back by saying that a connection between spiritual nurturing and nature can go far wherever you live. A rock, stick, or seashell in hand can lighten our stress, help us connect to one another, and breathe more deeply. Wishing everyone health to maintain the work being done here. Thank you Bonnie and Roger for organizing these zoom events.

People who commit their lives to young children and their families have powerful stories to tell and we can find our own hope and inspiration as we listen.  Bonnie’s Global Café is the space where people gather to share their stories.  Stop by for tea and find affirmation and companionship.

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