It is no secret that this virus has affected the lives of everyone in one way or another, and many things have been put on hold. With children home from school, there are many challenges that parents and students are facing to ensure that they do not fall behind. At our Christ Child Early Learning Center, we are witnessing these problems firsthand.
Many of our parents are essential workers or are working from home. This means that they are supporting their children while also serving the public during a pandemic. Parents that are working from home must also juggle their work responsibilities while maintaining their household and trying to teach their children.
Our teachers are facing many obstacles as well, one of the biggest being the ability to connect with their students. Zoom calls and online resources can be successful for older children, but the infants and toddlers need hands on assistance that some parents simply can’t provide despite their efforts.
With these communication issues, children are feeling isolated and are having a hard time understanding why they are not allowed to go to school.Along with these obstacles that we are seeing across the board, there are other problems that are hitting our community.
“Educational equity is an issue,” said Tommy Ferguson, our Educational Coordinator, “some schools provided Chromebooks, some schools provided [educational] packets.”
Our teachers have reported that some parents don’t have computers or internet access at home, which amplifies the communication disconnect.
The good news? Our staff at St. Stephen’s Community House is working tirelessly (and creatively) to provide materials and support to both the parents and the students. “The resources that are needed, I believe we are giving out,” said Erica Anderson, a teacher at our Christ Child Early Learning Center.
While following the guidelines of social distancing, our teachers have found ways to connect with their students. One of the ways they were able to do this was hand delivering goodie bags for the children two different times during this pandemic. The first time, the bags included homemade play-dough, scavenger hunts, books, and personal notes from the teachers telling the students how much they miss them. The second round of goodie bags included activities for the “Week of the Young Child.” This initiative encourages parents to do activities with their children each day of the week. The bag included different items to help with sensory, vocabulary, and exploration. Some children have the ability to do video chats with their teachers, which seems to brighten their days.
“Amazing children, strong families, my community.”
-Kristin Giger, Director of Youth Services
Along with the goodie bags, our staff has launched a series of Youtube videos to ensure the students have classroom-like engagement. These videos include topics such as recycling and science projects and encourage students to explore and try things at home. Check out some of the videos here.
One of the most important things that our teachers have been doing is simply being available and offering open communication. They realize that many of these parents are teaching for the first time, and that it is a daunting task. Many have given out their cell phone numbers to encourage parents to reach out, and they have a group chat with all parents to offer support.
With our teachers leading these amazing children and their strong families, our community will see this pandemic through.