Preschool Distance Learning

Hello Families!
Upon hearing that I am reopening, a couple of parents have expressed interest in doing distance learning.  I have had to reflect on this for a few days, but the idea of distance learning has been on my mind since March.  Attached is what I would provide if we did Distance Learning.  I would only do this for children I already have a rapport with, which is why I am reaching out to see if anyone else here is interested.
Please see my proposed program and feel free to call/text/email me with any questions.  I genuinely appreciate your feedback!

Circle Time with Music and Performance (M-F, 9:00am-9:30am)

FIRST ACTIVITY: Conversation. The first 10-minutes—approximately—will be us having our group conversation like we used to. Each person takes a turn sharing whatever they want and is followed by the group responding/talking about what the person said. (Learning Objective: listening comprehension, empathy, language, turn-taking, social customs).

Our transition to close group conversation and enter the next activity is our game about clothing (who has stripes? who is wearing something with the color blue? etc.).

SECOND ACTIVITY: Daily Topics for Socio-Emotional Learning and Language. The next 10-minutes—approximately—will be our learning activity, which varies depending on the day’s topic or the children’s interests. For example, we might read “Calm Down Little Monkey”, while pausing on each page that shows the monkey’s emotions so the children can act it out and talk about each feeling (surprised, sad, angry, calm, happy). Another example would be a scavenger hunt for items in their room like: Can you find something in the shape of a rectangle? Can you find something that is an animal or has a picture of an animal? For each person’s findings, they can tell the group what they found (Learning Objective: self-regulation, symbolism in language, descriptive language, listening comprehension, (others depending on activity).

Our transition to close our learning activity and enter Music and Performance is to go to our calendar for our funny-voice counting and pattern recognition. (objective: math-counting, patterns, comparison) and each person gets to describe the weather outside the window in the room they are in.

THIRD ACTIVITY: Music and Performance. Approximately 10-minutes. We will have varied lessons each day. Example 1: Freeze dance with music has each child taking a turn to play his/her instrument while the others dance, then when the music pauses, everyone has to freeze. Example 2: Songs with movements like Itsy Bitsy Spider, Head Shoulders Knees and Toes, If You’re Happy and You Know It, Hokey Pokey. Example 3: Puppet Show. Children will interact with puppet through speech and with toys/actions—this will be directed at children individually and in group. (Learning Objective: hand-eye coordination, listening compression with multiple-step directions, fine and gross motor development, musical appreciation, rhymes/rhythm/speech development, others depending on song/activity).

Transition: We used to (when we were in person) go get our water cups and any outside clothes we needed to line up for recess. I will develop a transition to say goodbye until our next activity as we go along to see what works best. My initial idea is to say, ”What time is it? It’s time to play! (children will catch on and can answer in chorus.) I will see you again after we are all done playing!” and then everyone says goodbye.

Academic ACTIVITY (M-F, 10:30am-11:00am)

Learning Objectives:
Science Observation, critical thinking, inquiry process, language, problem solving, appreciation and passion for science!
Literacy Vocabulary, pronunciation, descriptive speech, grammar, alphabet letter and numeral identification visual and oral, fine-motor skills for writing, practice with spelling first name and, if ready, last name and beginning sight-words.
Engineering/building Fine/gross-motor development, problem solving, hand-eye coordination, movement and balance concepts, speech and listening.
Art (process and model). Colors, shapes, symbolic representation, art medium use (paint, crayon, marker, etc.), fine-motor skills for literacy foundations, creative exploration with process art, model instructions (with creative freedom).
Math Counting, compare/contrast, number identification, quantity discrimination, patterns, vocabulary.

As always, the lessons will be based on Avalon’s overall principle of the “high F.I.V.E.S.”—
F: Fun! Free play and games is a powerful tool to relax children, promote participation, and create joyful memories of learning. Play encourages social interaction, creativity, emotional expression and empathy, and language opportunities!
I: Interactive. Children who have individual participation included in the lesson activity create learning that is relative and meaningful—this means they have an increased comprehension and memory associated with the activity.
V: Varied. There are many different learning styles for individual preference, specific types of lessons, and for developing the overall neural growth (“whole brain”) in auditory, visual, tactile, and spoken methods of learning.
E: Engaging. Social experience with the whole group helps build self-esteem for public speaking, team projects, and asserting one’s self within the class environment. This is a foundational approach to building these skills.
S: Simple. No one—children, parents, teachers—likes a complicated project! Lessons have a base of simplicity, with challenges presented at the individual’s level of development. Sometimes this also means putting the lesson into parts over a few days.

Academic Activity (10:30am-11:00am) Example for a week with a general topic of animals:

Monday (Science): Topic—Nocturnal Animals. We will talk about the differences between night and day. We will focus on three animals: owls, bats, and raccoons. The stuffed animals of these creatures will have a “Q and A” (back and forth) with the children before we imitate their sounds and movement. As a grand finale, we will create makeshift animal homes for each of them.

Tuesday (Show and Tell): Children will find an animal in their house (can be a picture in a book , a stuffed animal, or a real pet) and tell us about it, being prompted with questions if necessary. Everyone in the group gets to ask a question about each person’s animal. We will have some silly games of pretending to be each animal too.

Wednesday (Engineering/building): We are going to make up a pretend animal (or talk about a real one) and then make a home for that animal. Children will each explain their animal, its home, and what it eats and does. Everyone will get a turn to show their creation and to ask questions of others.

Thursday (Art): Animals come in many colors and shapes. We will color a blank page to show what our favorite colors for an animal would be. Can be any medium: crayon, paint, markers, et cetera.

Friday (Math): Scavenger hunt for the largest and smallest stuffed animal (or toy that is non-animal). Children are going to count how many stuffed animals I can hold without dropping one! Number challenge: Each child will be given a number challenge to make an animal sound a certain amount of times (1-5). As a group, we will act out the behavior physically of 10 animals that are shown.

For each lesson, we will transition into our activity by saying hi to each member of the group and asking what they played or did in between the last period and this one. For the transition to close our activity, we will say “See you after lunch.” in a special voice (loud, fast, whisper, silly…)

Interactive Story Time (M-F, 1:00pm-1:30pm)

Part 1 Warm up story: Our own books (formerly self-directed reading). We will modify our normal story time away from the “sleepy time” environment to one that is more interactive and engaging. I still would like to incorporate self-directed reading, so we will begin each of these sessions with each child showing us a book they have (it is okay if it is the same book), showing us a picture from it, and saying something about the book (I will prompt if needed).

Part 2 Interactive story: We are going to imaginatively act out this story physically, pretending to be the character or be in the setting or showing how we would respond to the situation. For example, for the book, The Very Hungry Caterpillar, I will show the book and read the first part of how the caterpillar pops out of it’s egg. Then we will all curl into a ball and “pop” out as well, laying on our stomach on the floor like a little caterpillar. Next, each time the caterpillar eats something, we will too (for real or pretend). I will ask individual children how many of what they ate, how it tasted, if they are full, et cetera as we turn the pages and eat other food. After the caterpillar eats all the food on Saturday (cupcakes, sausages, candy, etc.) we will pretend to have a tummy ache like him. I would ask each child what his/her favorite foods are (open-ended questions for language and vocabulary opportunities). When the caterpillar builds it cocoon, we will too (wrapped in a jacket or small blanket (safely)—doesn’t have to be on screen). Finally, I will read to them how the caterpillar emerges from his cocoon changed into a butterfly. We will fly around the room like a butterfly looking for a flower.

I will finish Part 2 with choosing certain pages from the story book and ask children, one by one, what they think is happening on the page (it is okay if they divert from the story). I will open it up then to a quick group discussion about the book with open-ended question prompts.

Part 3: If we have time, depending on Part 2’s activity length and how the children are doing energy and attention wise, we will do an early literacy activity with letters (visual ID) or beginning writing (marks okay) or a labeled word short story (the word mom or dog with a picture) and an oral story 4-5 sentences in length. Part 3 has a lot to do with me observing how the children have engaged throughout the day (interests, feelings, strength or challenge areas of learning, so I will modify Part 3 as needed.

We will close the Interactive Story Time lesson by having each child say what their favorite part of the day was and say goodbye to them, ending with me.

Family Adult / Parent Participation

Fellow parent here! I have three children of my own; one in high school distance learning, one in middle school being home schooled, and one in elementary school doing distance learning. Plus, I’m working and trying to have somewhat of a “life” in these chaotic times. So, I get a little about what demands are already on you.

I will communicate as far in advance as possible and with as much detail as possible about any materials (striving for 90% of materials normally found on-hand at a home) and set-up. This could be a day where we are doing art and your child will need a few pieces of paper and some crayons. Or maybe we are building an animal house and their room will be…artistically rearranged (aka messy), so they will need help picking up and understanding for their use of bedroom materials. I will CERTAINLY need your assistance every single day helping your child get Zoom set up and confirming audio/visual and then logging off after each period. My goal is to have as much social interaction as possible with movement, talking, use of materials on hand. Things are not normal right now though, so I am leaving a lot of wiggle room for adjustments day-to-day.

Some materials that will be absolutely needed:
(1) A variety of children’s musical instruments (can find this on Amazon in a set for around $20 on average) https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08D9D2B7S/?coliid=I1L73G5UASWQGB&colid=2HBU52QR8DVZF&psc=1&ref_=lv_ov_lig_dp_it, (2) a pack of play-doh with the primary and secondary colors of any shade (usually between six and ten dollars), (3) blank white paper with crayons and/or markers, (4) at least three stuffed animals, (5) blocks or Duplo LEGOs (either is fine), (6) some dramatic play materials and costumes (can be household items) like a toy phone, pots and pans (real or toy), train/car, dolls, some dramatic play costumes or accessories (can be items you don’t want anymore like old hats, purses, wallets, uniform or work shirt/jacket, etc. (7) at least five children’s books (very important) can be board books, picture books, story books, cloth crinkle books — any type of book for 2-5 year olds!

If you need financial assistance to purchase any of the above items, please let me know and a box of whichever items you need may have the option to be donated to you (to be picked up in San Jose or shipped directly to your home).

Optional, but recommended: (1) shape bean bags with at least: triangle, square, circle, oval, star. (2) tactile number cards (like sandpaper numbers)…you can also make these at home. (3) sorting materials (color and/or shape and/or size).

All of the above can also be made or put together at home. For the shape bean bags, if you don’t want to cut and sew them (filled with dry rice or beans), you can put them in Ziplock bags (glue the opening seams shut as well as sealed after filling with dried rice or beans) and tape on or glue a colored cut-out of a shape on the front.

Occasional Mailings (OPTIONAL): only if you feel comfortable with it, I will mail your child some fun materials throughout our time (at least every couple of weeks). Mailings will be assembled after using hand-sanitizer and while wearing a mask. This could be a little package of Orbeez water beads or balloons with some coloring pages, or simple holiday crafts and other such items. It is a way to “physically” connect with one another as everyone will be getting the same thing. These items are for them to enjoy whenever they wish.

Expectations

For the children: Consideration for children’s method of engagement will be needed. As long as they are in the room and can hear me, I think it is developmentally appropriate for some side-play (they are often still listening) or distraction (off topic talk, etc.) while we have online class. It takes time to get used to interacting with people this way in a learning context. Their way of dealing with possible over-stimulation, confusion, or other feelings may be expressed by walking off temporarily because they aren’t sure how to interact or self-regulate. If I do not say anything to them, it is because I am allowing them this time to process and am observing what they are doing or how long they have gone off screen. Siblings/TV and movies/household activities are not recommended to be present during our distance learning periods as it will create over-stimulation and distraction. Additionally, anyone on screen—even in the background or passing by—must be appropriately and fully dressed.

For the teacher: There also might be times I need to pause and go off screen help a child who is on-site, if applicable. Times for this will vary depending on what is needed (maybe a minute or two if it is potty related), so I will need understanding for this. I will communicate with the children that I need a quick minute to take care of something, so they can either (1) get they’re favorite musical instrument and make a song while I’m gone or (2) get their play-doh and make me something. When I’m back, I will take the time to acknowledge their activity before resuming what we were doing. The time frames cannot be made-up later or changed because I have incorporated them into my daily routine for on-site children.

For the learning activities: Emergent (aka unfolding, child-led, day-to-day topic) curriculum will be used. I am heavily modifying content for the best experience of distance-learning. I will be focusing on socio-emotional skills and language, as those are two developmental areas being the most impacted by COVID-19’s affect on our children’s normal lives. YOUR input as parents and families is so helpful to me! What topics or methods would you like to see? Remember, Avalon’s highest principle is based on a “round table” where the families, children, and teachers have equal weigh-in on discussions and creation of our learning environment.

Program Options:

My personal attention to each child is CRITICAL for the best learning and care experience—both in person and online. That is why I personally think small groups and small ratios are necessary for the highest quality of a program. I am keeping my program at a total of six students—whether they are on-site or doing distance learning. As an example, this means that if I have four children participating in the Distance Learning Program, I would only have two children on-site.

Unlike in-person program options, the Distance Learning Program only has one option for participation because I need to sustain overall operating expenses. $100 per week, paid each Friday (via Zelle, PayPal, or Venmo) for the next week’s learning (holiday closures are still paid, as normal, but no payment is due for the Winter break or if I have to be absent). If there is no school for a day due to an issue on my end like my tech/wi-fi or some other on-site issue, you will be credited for that day. There is no deposit/registration/enrollment fee. If you choose to withdrawal, you may do so at any time (as usual), but all tuition is non-refundable and your spot will be opened up for new, on-site enrollment. There is no required attendance or punctuality because during times like this, flexibility is key; however, tuition would still be required whether or not attending if you are enrolled in the program.

There will be no Preschool and Child Care contract as this is a separate program outside of the jurisdiction of the Department of Social Services Community Care Licensing Dept. (DSS-CCLD) that I am licensed through. Alternatively, there will be a Distance Learning Agreement that will be emailed to you that is very similar to this communication for informational purposes. No in-person care will be provided.

Distance Learning Program Duration: While this program is specifically created for the COVID-19 pandemic, the discretion for the continuance and duration of this program will be up to Avalon. Presently, I will commit to a duration of offering this program ONLY for past or currently enrolled students from Monday, November 9th though the end of March 2021 (flu season’s end). After the end of March 2021, depending on the situation at that time, I will renew my commitment to for a specified amount of time or end the distance-learning program (two-week notice will be given mid-March).

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