Updated: Aug 30, 2021
So many classrooms are trying to cope with new Covid19 protocols and it breaks my heart. Kids are separated, isolated, and “sterilized.” We are asked to practice social distancing with little humans who require interactions for brain development and social development. We are required to meet them at the door with a thermometer in hand and our faces covered. They need to see us. I am concerned that our level of “protections” will increase their level of anxiety. They have needs that we must meet. Every day we should be asking ourselves:
Where is the joy? Where are the child led activities? Where is the SOCIALIZATION? If we are required to have environments that make these elements impossible...I just can't.
Also, let's not fall into the "they missed school so we must push academics" mindset. They really need to connect, bond, and play to process all of the stress in the world.
We are expert at creating beautiful, inviting environments that foster creativity and executive function in the children. This is where they find peace and brain growth. The environment really is the third or perhaps fourth teacher. Parents and teachers are teachers BUT people fail to recognize that children are also teachers. They teach us what they need and they teach each other.
They HAVE to play together or we may actually damage their development!
So many kids struggle with anxiety in our schools now. We can't exacerbate that by forbidding social play and creating a climate of fear in our classrooms.
We will take temps at the door, we will have extra hand washing stations and more sanitizer, we will teach no fingers on (or in) your face, we will have more tissues available, we will sanitize between classes, we even have enough “stuff“ to change out all the manipulatives between classes if we feel it necessary, etc. I do not plan to require masks, but if teachers or the children choose to wear them that's ok. I ordered us each a clear face shield, if we need them, so kids can see our expressions.
We aren't a daycare so parents do not need us to take their kids to be able to work-hence they are better about keeping sick kids home. Even so, I am beefing up our illness policy in accordance with CDC regulations. I am grateful that the State of Idaho seems to understand the needs of young children and have trusted us to run our programs. Thankfully, some other states are relaxing the strict child care protocols now as new information on Covid19 becomes available and the negative effects of the separating of children is now being seen.
We got this! We are an amazing team with a unique program that truly wants to do what is in the child's best interest.
The most important thing is feeling of peace and joy in the classroom. Watch those kids and see what makes them light up...then provide more of that. If you can take time to be in the moment with them you will be able to sense what they need from you. Be amazed with them, find wonder in their discoveries, be the one they can’t wait to see every day. If something is stressing you in your schedule then alter it or dump it. We will figure it out!
I am compiling a research binder so it’s easier to share the brain research regarding the dangers of academic push down and the physiological need for uninterrupted, child-led play, as well as everything that shapes the why of what we do the way we do it.
Don’t feel pressured by an Early Childhood world that thinks these littles should be able to do work designed for kindergarten or first grade. We prepare them the way they need us to. There is plenty of time for seat work and worksheets and skill-n-drill direct instruction in elementary school. They need to PLAY, and do open-ended process art without a pre-determined outcome, and move their bodies, and dig in the dirt, and sing, and laugh, and build, and dream, and feel loved...and we can give them that. That’s our Super Power!