For parents with children in preschool, school closures bring about a unique set of challenges. Without new places to visit or new friends to interact with, young children can grow restless and irritable, and so can their parents! Many parents are also trying to work from home, so they need plans for keeping their toddlers and preschoolers occupied while they answer emails and phone calls. Children ages 2-4 are not expected to be practicing time tables, reading independently, or writing in journals, but they still need activities to keep their little minds and bodies growing.  

The St. James Early Childhood Development Center is continuing to provide an exceptional education for our students during the COVID-19 closure, while also being highly flexible and optional to meet the needs of each family. Our teachers post daily Morning Meetings, read-alouds, interactive videos, and lesson plans that highlight early childhood skills and concepts in our SeeSaw online learning platform. Thanks to SeeSaw, our First Year students can sing along to the Bumble Bee Song with Ms. Donna and Ms. Chandra, Second Year students can watch and listen to Ms. Laura read Mouse Paint to them, and PreK-3 students hear their teachers sing their names during their morning “We’re Glad You’re Here Today!” song, as if they were sitting on the classroom rug. Daily lesson plans include links to stories on YouTube, counting games, fine motor skill challenges, and more. This week, the ECDC teachers even dropped off supplies for egg dyeing at each child's house, as happy gifts for the students they love. 

Instruction is asynchronous, meaning parents have the ability to decide if and when their child will do the activities, without the pressure of attending class at a certain time.  Second Year parent Molly Israel said, “With both parents still working full time, we don’t follow the lesson plans to the letter, or finish every suggested project, but we like the flexibility to carry out the activities when it works for us. The look on Stafford’s face when he sees Ms. Laura (or DeSha or Janine) is priceless and melts my heart. Our favorite videos, like the butterfly song and morning prayer, are played over and over at Stafford’s request.” 

ECDC director Janine Borne also shares resources and optional activities daily through the HiMama app. These resources such as a Color Scavenger Hunt or a Fruit Taste Test can be downloaded and printed easily, and most use items found around the house like cardboard boxes and cotton balls. All instructions are stored in HiMama for parents to access even after school reopens on rainy days, sick days, or long weekends at home.  

While we miss seeing their precious faces on campus, we hope our students and their parents still feel loved and enriched by St. James during these unprecedented times. For more information about openings in our First Year, Second Year, or PreK-3 classes for next year, contact Admissions Director Julia Spaht at jspaht@stjameseds.org.