This is a unique time that is truly is a test for all the preschool teachers. Our programs are typically built on play and social teaching, so how do we transfer this information to our students while they are home and isolated. How do you make sure to stay connected with your students and continue to be a strong support for your students while separated for months?
First Thing to Remember
One big thing to remember, children are going through a rough time. It is important to let children come and go as they need during this time. Everything, at this age, should be optional. Also, parents are now placed into a new schedule and plan. They may be working from home, or have other students they have to work with. Make sure each parent understands that this is material for your child and all work is optional.
Four Ways to Connect with Students and the Benefits of Each One
- Weekly Zoom Chats
- Weekly Zoom chats are a fun way to see your students in person and get a chance to connect with them. You can play lots of different games, including a color scavenger hunt, math races, and more. We also have a weekly show and tell, where children can either show or tell something that matches our theme of the week.
- Benefits of this type of connection are simple, you can see your children and interact directly with them. You can have a conversation like you did before and it allows friends to talk and connect as well.
- FlipGrid, ClassDojo, or SeeSaw
- Each of these websites allow for a virtual classroom set up. They give you a chance to give assignments or projects to your students and allows for feedback from the kids. Each one is a bit different on what the allow, so do a bit of research and find the best fit (or two) for your class.
- FlipGrid: Allows for individual topics to be posted. Students can post directly on each topic and can comment on each other's videos. You can also post additional links, like YouTube or other blog posts to help reinforce your learning.
- ClassDojo: This virtual classroom is great for preschool families. I use this app throughout the year, and it is easy to post to and allows for quick updates for parents. It can be a bit tricky to get all the parents enrolled, but worth it once they are in. I also love how easy it is for all the teachers in the classroom to post ideas, and they are able to respond directly, through messages, to the students.
- SeeSaw: This is a great option if you are part of a larger center or school. The school is able to register and teachers can post different activities that the children can respond to. It is also great because children can respond directly to work posted and submit to the teacher.
- To be honest, this is probably the easiest way to connect with parents during this time. I am sure you are already sending email communication to the families with updates throughout the school year. Why not continue this method while we are teaching virtually? Simply send out a weekly newsletter with updates from staff and ideas for projects for your students.
- Benefits are easy to use and you already have this system built. Creating a newsletter typically only takes a few minutes and parents are already used to seeing communication from you in this way.
- Snail Mail
- Time to go old school! What better way to communicate than through snail mail! Kids love to receive mail, and it is a fun way to stay connected during this time. Students will also have a chance to practice what you send is a way that is more typical to the classroom, through pen or markers and paper. You can also get quite creative with what you send, including a FlatTeacher!
- Benefits are a bit different for this one. I feel like this one is the most directly connected with the students. You are able to speak directly to them, without relying on parents to open their emails or log into an app. You are also able to send different material than you normally would, which is fun and different for families.
What are you doing to connect with your students? Have you used one or more of these ways to connect? I know my school is using all four of these different ways, and have had great success connecting with different students in different ways. As we all continue to navigate this new normal, it is important to take the time to let your preschoolers know you are thinking about them and you are here for them during this time.
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