The recent school closure has been strange and difficult, especially for our youngest students. “My students are confused,” said Monroe 2-Orleans BOCES Integrated Preschool teacher Anne Schwartz. “They are confused as to why they can’t go to school anymore and they don’t understand why public playgrounds are closed. I am most interested in having my students stay connected with familiar things. I am trying to create some continuity for them.”
Schwartz and her classroom team of autism specialist, nurse and multiple related-service therapists, have found creative ways to do just that. Her two preschool classes (a dozen students in each) continue to follow the standard UPK curriculum with weekly interactive Zoom lessons focused on integrating letters, numbers, shapes and colors. Virtual class activities range from yoga and music to planting seeds. The educators share new versions of many of the favorite songs, books and videos students got to know earlier in the year. Recently, weekly story time sessions were added to the mix.
The team create a weekly newsletter for parents that details the educational goals of the week’s classes, suggests fun things to do, and includes tips and links to valuable resources. Schwartz has also launched her own YouTube channel, Classroom Fun
, which features theme-based videos that follow each week’s learning explorations.
Both the students and their parents have responded enthusiastically to the preschool outreach program. “I have a parent who sends me pictures of their child watching my videos,” said Schwartz. “One parent told me that the Zoom classes help break up their day, and several have sent me pictures of their children engaged in the educational activities suggested in the newsletter.”