Preschool Settings and Pandemic??
Parents have questions, teachers have questions, lunch staff have questions, bus drivers have questions, grandparents have questions, dance class teachers have questions, administrators have questions, politicians have questions…everyone seems to have questions and no one seems to have the answers. We are all living through unprecedented times.
As an early childhood educator for the past 30 some odd years, I have a few observations. These observations are coloring how I live my life and how I model to my staff and parents of the school.
First, and foremost, we need to remain calm and confident in the fact that we love our children and are doing everything in our power to keep them well and safe. As parents, we may be making different decisions than others. We need to be confident in making decisions that fit our family and our life. No need to judge others in the decisions they are making.
Second, keeping informed on the current scientific evidence and facts helps us to guide our decisions and feel confident that we are doing what is best.
Third, involving the children in cleaning, washing hands, talking about germs and how they are spread, recognizing that the more they know and are empowered the easier it will be.
Our staff has worked hard to maintain as much normalcy as possible in the classroom. Since children are seeing their teachers in masks, they are unable to decipher the demeanor from our smiles. We are using all the same language, vocabulary, and, most importantly, rules, as always. This helps them to feel like their world is still somewhat the same. This also helps them to know what to expect and anticipate what will happen next in their day.
In a Montessori environment, children are always very independent and responsible for different jobs in the classroom. The pandemic has offered us more job offerings for the children. They have the responsibility of putting things into sanitizing solution when they are done with them. They are responsible for using hand sanitizer after almost everything they do in the classroom. They are responsible for watching out for sneezes and coughs, and reminding the younger students to cover their mouths and wash their hands. It has been a real community building event in our school.
Remaining six feet apart is not really an attainable goal in a preschool…so we have made handwashing our main goal in helping to curb the spread in our classrooms. We want our children to remain safe, but we do not want them to grow up with no sense of touch, love, or empathy in their lives. It is a fine line we are walking in how our children see the world.
We are maintaining the philosophy that as long as we remain calm and loving with our children, we will continue to help them grow and will one day look back on this pandemic, and laugh, saying, remember when we all had different designs on our masks?