This was definitely an end of the year we will always remember. Spring of 2020 at preschool will be one for the record books. Starting in March we went to a Virtual Preschool. I sent out daily emails for the preschool families that followed our weekly themes and we had Virtual Circle Times for all the classes.
I was surprised how quickly the children adapted to "Rectangle Time" and how they responded to having class online. I learned how to use the screen as a tool. I spent my days learning how to read a book without have a glare on the page, how to make sure we had proper lighting and how to add fun into our 'regular' curriculum that was now being presented as online activities. One of the favorites has turned out to be hiding from each other while singing All Around the Mulberry Bush and popping up at the end of the song.
I find it ironic that one of my go-to books for our outdoor classroom, 150+ Screen Free Activities, has become one of the go-to books for my online curriculum as well. I have adapted the ideas to use with the children on the screen during our class times.
As we move through the 'new normal' I have worked to adapt in person circle time activities, science activities, stories and sharing time to the virtual classroom. The online classroom is different from the physical classroom but how children respond to learning has stayed the same. They are engaged when the learning is something that they are interested in, participate in and have a connection with. Is a virtual classroom the perfect environment for young children? I would say no but at the moment it is one of the only venues that we can safely engage in a preschool classroom environment with the children. So as the children are learning from me as the teacher I am learning from them on how to adjust my curriculum and my new classroom to meet their needs. I am re- learning how to teach my curriculum and how to be a preschool teacher.
It is a challenge and a joy to be able to reach these little ones in their own homes as we navigate this new way of teaching on a screen.
I will post the emails I sent out this spring and the emails I have sent for summer session. I have more children enrolled in our virtual summer session that we would usually have in our summer classes. Partly this is because we can have as many families as would like to come to class join us and partly because there are not a lot of other options outside of our summer sessions for preschoolers do right now.
The online class is: comforting, familiar, consistent and they have fun coming to class with their siblings, parents and friends. I think the key to the success of the classes was summed up by one of the children when we started our online classroom. She exclaimed, "I know this song! I know this!". During this time of uncertainty, with a lot of unknowns, the hour we spend together singing, reading stories and talking is something these children know. This is something they know this. It is an hour during their day that is familiar to them. We have all adapted to our new preschool setting and Rectangle Time.