Responding to the Coronavirus Pandemic –
Stories from Early Childhood Professionals around the World

In March, over 120 early childhood professionals signed up to participate in live zoom calls on the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Individuals from 25 countries were invited to share their stories. Check out the March 26 Report & March 30 Report in Bonnie’s Global Café.

Here is a sampling of stories shared In a follow-up survey:

Erin Atkinson, United States

Our amazing staff at Elmhurst Academy is working hard to bring short daily zoom sessions to our preschoolers and even toddlers! We sing songs, read books, and do short lesson activities.

Along with our google classroom we send in videos on social/ emotional, links to different fun activities and continue our outreach by assigning UNICEF Kid power-ups so we may continue to have gross motor activities, but also help the world fight malnutrition. We have special guests who do zooms with us as well to bring in the community. We also started our tribute to Italy with our rainbows and  #EAStrong and #tuttoandrabene since we are a Reggio Emilia Inspired Preschool.

Anat Bar, Israel

At the center that I run, we connect with all the families and children in our care. We have prepared detailed work plans to maintain routine and agenda whenever possible. We run an open phone line for parent questions and pass on games, books, and creative materials to families. We have families that have children with special needs and autism. This situation is very difficult for them with the children at home.

Rupjyoti Konwar, India

During the crisis of pandemic Covid19, early childhood educator along with other educators have been continuing education through online services. However, Anganwadi workers in India are mainly busy delivering various other services like- providing take-home ration to doorstep, distributing meals to needy and underprivileged section, helping government health services by conducting awareness campaigning for reducing coronavirus risk and transmission within communities.

Danielle Whittick, Canada

Our company is running zoom meetings with the families, even going as far as reading bedtime stories to our toddler families. Our kids are playing online board games with their teachers. We are allowing the parents to meet on a forum for them to share stories. We have also sent out letters through snail mail, with self-addressed stamped envelopes for the kids to send pictures they drawback to us. With those pictures, we are putting them up on a google doc and sharing it with families, then sending those pics to an elder home that is in quarantine.

Being an ECD professional, I developed a home based activity resource with my ECD team and handed it over to the families who are enrolled in our ECD Informed Parents ECD centres all over Pakistan. On daily basis, we are in touch with families on WhatsApp and send out home based activity clips on daily basis, which include Morning prayer, meditation, free play time, story time, brain booster games according to age, Me and my dad time, and arts and crafts.

Miriam Angel, United States

Hello everyone. I work for a Non-Profit Organization with a big heart. After the shock and the new reality of closing schools, we started working right away in ways to continue to support and communicate with families and children. Teachers and Family Service Workers called, skyped, email, texted families to assist them on how to access available community resources. Teachers called children for encouragement and support with their learning by distributing learning kits, creating presentations with teachers reading books and other activities. Family Wellness continued sessions with children in need. We also kept a close communication with staff members and co-workers to encourage professional development and self-care. We worked from home but together to support and care for each other.

Pryanka Handa Ram, Botswana

Mobile mentoring, support phone calls to families in need,  sustainable play packs, WhatsApp groups with covid19 information, accurate, relevant and translated material,  play at home ideas,  building tippy taps,  explaining government guidelines of what things like a lock down, social distancing and isolation actually mean.

Jitinder Walia, United States

We as a center are doing zoom sessions for the children and parents . Our teachers are reading and making videos and we upload on our You tube channel . We are having social groups on zoom to support the stress and anxiety that families are having with our social worker and family worker. To support our staff I continue to talk and do Zoom with them so they are not isolated and disengaged. We check in with each other every day, have a group What’sApp to keep everyone in the loop.

Thomasa Bond, United States

Child care providers are providing video chats with their students and sending out packets with activities that they can complete while at home with their families. Now that schools have been closed for the school year. They are looking at possible activities that can be put together over summer if possible.

Monika Rosciszewska Wozniak, Poland

All childcare settings, all kindergarten, all schools are closed from 15 of March. Early childhood professionals try to reach families at home by the internet. It is only for children older than 3 that have some video meetings. For younger children, more play and readings. Sometimes there are propositions to do something together with parents (eg experiments, cooking, short projects).  School children have regular lessons but the quality depends on the teachers, their IT skills and equipment. Professionals try to reach parents and give them advice how to play, how to organize everyday activities, how to overcome problems and difficult behavior of children. Children must stay home- it is forbidden to use playground and even walk on the streets too much. So the situation is difficult because many parents have work to do. Many have lost their work already or will be unemployed in the near future. We started to think about changing form of childcare provision in the future- sharing duties between parents and professionals. If parents spend some time in daycare as volunteer as assistants for professionals so it can cost less for them and it would allow settings to survive. They cannot count on the any financial subsidy from the government. We will see in next weeks how situation is developing.

Manjusree Mitram, Bangladesh

Bangladesh declared a 10-day shut down effective from 26 March to 4 April. The shut down has been extended up to 11 April 2020 and people are instructed to stay at home. Affected families have been locked down, many organizations are continuing their works from home. The Government has taken initiatives to provide food support to poor families to survive. Early Childhood professionals are mostly engaged with supporting the communities through sharing the awareness related information, preparing and disseminating guidelines on how to keep contact effectively with the children during the Corona crisis period. To monitor the situation some organizations are providing cash to the teachers’ mobile phone to communicate regularly with families having young children. Teachers are oriented through mobile phones. The professionals provided with the special TV programme (for young children) schedule to the parents and community people. Local health volunteers are providing a home visit for caring for pregnant mothers.

Meenakshi Dahal, Nepal

We are developing home learning materials for children age 4 to 8 years as they are at home.  Also supporting parents how to take care of socio-emotional state of their children in this situation. We are developing parenting messages using digital media (radio and online news portal).

Christine Whitmire, United States

Our early childhood teams created a Continuous Learning Plan which included Home Learning Kits for our families, safely delivered to their homes prior to the state shelter in place orders. In those kits, we were able to print a teacher developed Home Learning Lesson Book, resources for immediate needs, and Home Learning supplies to support the lessons. In the ensuing weeks, our staff have rallied to learn new virtual methods to reach children at home with their families as well as remain faithful to methods of contact not involving the internet, such as phone calls, text, and letters.

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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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