Normal has changed! For my family, the new normal includes my husband and me working full-time from home while caring for and educating our 3.5-year-old son. Even though we are approaching the 3-month mark of the stay-at-home order, we are still getting used to the shift in our day-to-day routines, roles, and responsibilities. Meanwhile, our son is still adjusting to being without classmates, friends, teachers, and his prior pre-school days packed with engaging activities.
Do you remember asking your parents or other family members to tell you a story when you were younger? I sure do! I know my parents can still hear the echo of my whiney plea: “Tell me a story!” That said, the memories created when my family relented and told me real stories about their past, or made-up stories about the future, are among my favorites!
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! (Though a week feels so insufficient.) Now more than ever, parents across the country have appreciation for everything teachers do for their children. Teachers are selflessly motivated to care for, influence, and inspire development in children. Every day, as we interact with members of our community, find comfort in books, and witness scientific and engineering feats, we see the positive impact of teachers.
What is a cloud? Why do boats float? How does a car work? Young children have an innate ability to ask questions like this every day, in fact, researchers estimate that preschoolers ask an amazing 76 information-seeking questions per hour?! Since curiosity is at the heart of all innovation, the earlier we help children harness and direct their interest in exploring the world around them, the more motivated they will be to uncover the answers!
The combination of closed libraries and my son’s constant request for the same stories to be read aloud prompted me to research and develop some tips and tricks to help us all maximize daily read-alouds and repetition. Because these are research-based, we can all feel good about integrating these techniques into our daily routine!
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, working from home full-time wasn’t an adjustment for me; I’ve been doing that for years. However, working from home full-time with a two-year-old (Jack) and four-year-old (Frankie) at home was uncharted territory for me. It’s a balancing act that millions of parents are suddenly trying to master quickly and with a little bit of grace, if we’re lucky!
Allow me to set the scene: I am propped on a stepstool in my daughter Lucy’s bathroom. I’m balancing my laptop on my knees as Lucy enjoys her 2nd popsicle (sugar-free = lunch?), plays, and splashes! I already feel like this a “mom win” because the popsicle in the bath makes for an almost-no-mess, very little stickiness situation! It is 11:41 AM, and I am on a conference call with my team, and because we are all working from home, our cameras are on as we connect virtually.
Your alarm clock goes off. You have about 30 minutes until your child wakes up (if they haven’t already), and you are thinking about all of the conference calls you have today or the big project that is due at the end of the week. You ask yourself, “How am I going to get all of this done?” And then, “How am I going to get all of the this done AND make sure my child is engaged all day?”
As our country works together to implement practices aimed at mitigating the public health crisis caused by COVID-19, Hatch is committed to helping early childhood programs identify solutions to provide children with a high-quality early childhood education while implementing guidance from public health officials. It is important that we all implement health and safety precautions to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The use of technology in the early childhood classroom has been a conversation of debate for many years. Parents and teachers alike have concerns regarding screen time and the appropriateness of using technology with our youngest learners. However, now more than ever technology can support families and teachers during this unique school year.
Because of the pandemic, a lot of us teachers are starting the year off in complicated settings. Settings vary from school to school, and district to district. A lot of us have adopted a 100% virtual model, where our students stay at home, and we can provide instruction from the comfort of our own homes.
August is one of my favorite months of the year. Here in the South, it signals that fall is on its way and that it’s time for our kiddos to go back to school. My daughter, Nora, turned three in April and is going into her second year of preschool. Although our local school district has decided to host school virtually for the first nine weeks, my daughter’s school will be returning to in-person instruction.
Typically this time of year, we as parents would be hitting stores looking for school supplies, back-to-school clothes, and new lunch boxes. Instead, many of us are trying to figure out how to manage our daily lives with the added pressures of online learning and young children in the home.
For a long time, we have known that a child’s earliest learning is focused on motor development. An infant’s early movement experiences are beneficial to optimal brain development, and the connection between moving and learning continues well beyond the child’s first steps. With that in mind, it is imperative to encourage movement in every child’s play.
First Days of School… One of my earliest memories revolves around my first day of kindergarten. Living outside of Boston, our house was right next to the elementary school. My mom took my hand in hers, and we walked together towards the beginning of my academic career. Donning a new yellow dress, tennis shoes, pigtails, and a yarn lanyard with my name printed in big letters, I was ready to go; in hindsight, I am certain my mom and I shared similar emotions: uncertainty, excitement, and anticipation!
The summer is passing quickly, and the anxiety associated with going back to the classroom is at the forefront of teachers’ and parents’ minds. My daughter will start back to preschool next month. Over the last few months, she has missed her friends, her teachers, and the familiar routine of going to school. As a mom, I am anxious for her to return to those experiences, but I also want to wrap her in bubble wrap (with a mask, of course) covered in sanitizer to ensure she is safe.
If you are among the many parents who were propelled into the role of a full-time teacher of little learners this spring, we know you need a break. Unfortunately, taking the summer off, isn’t an option. Research shows that continual learning is the best way to keep young minds engaged and progressing. So, don’t stop planting little seeds. They can help reap a lifelong desire for knowledge and learning.
COVID-19 has presented a unique set of challenges, especially for families with small children. My family is no different. My three-year-old daughter, Nora, usually enjoys busy days, playing with friends at preschool and/or daycare, sharing greetings with those we encounter running errands, and making new acquaintances when we play at the park. Sadly, almost all of our normal routines have changed. At her young age, Nora realizes our daily lives are totally different, but she does not understand why.
Hatch has received requests from our social media community for recommended child-friendly resources to help expand cultural literacy and provide some historical context around current events. Hatch’s Creative Diversity line was developed to provide learning resources that celebrate and honor all cultures.
The past few weeks in America and abroad have been filled with civil unrest and protests over the death of George Floyd and the unfair treatment of people of color. As I deal with the internal turmoil within myself, I ponder about the littlest learners we encounter daily and what they are thinking. I also wonder how we, as members in early childhood education, can evoke change for a better tomorrow.
Last weekend I was awakened by the sound of the phone ringing. It was my sister-in-law, giving me a play-by-play of the first distance-learning week of the new school year. I could tell from her voice that she was overwhelmed with the process of balancing work Zoom meetings, connecting my niece, Nia, to her school’s digital learning platform, and generally keeping the household afloat. I quickly asked, “How can I help?”
Looking back over my 13 years at Hatch Early Learning, I have witnessed a remarkable evolution. I recall the creation of our Product Development team, which took Hatch products to the next level with solid research behind the innovations. The goal at Hatch has always been to put powerful tools in the hands of teachers and, even more importantly, in the hands of children, to help them learn, grow, and contribute meaningfully to society.
In early April, after about two weeks working from home, I read an article about the psychological benefits of feeling and expressing gratitude on a daily basis. If you’re like me, you get caught up in the rush of the day and, more often than not, don’t set aside the time for gratitude. That day in April, I decided to grab a notebook and write three things for which I was grateful and pledged to repeat the practice daily. At first, the list was trite and generally repetitive: family, health, etc. However, as I participated longer, the list became deeply personal. It also became more external; I found myself expressing gratitude more often.
Teaching children life skills is not only important for self-care, independence, and sufficiency— it also allows them to feel empowered, works on socialization and reasoning, and helps develop healthy self-esteem. According to Macmillan Education, “In a constantly changing environment, having life skills is an essential part of being able to meet the challenges of everyday life.”
Drawing is widely recognized as part of the developmental progression of writing development. However, drawing remains to be something that it not widely taught in early childhood classrooms. Since drawing is part of a young child’s writing tools, we need to embrace this developmental stage of writing and explicitly teach drawing to young children!
Diversity isn’t taught – it’s experienced. And that experience starts early. Early childhood education teachers are tasked with many difficult tasks over the course of a school year and as a result, diversity and multiculturalism can be easily shelved as part of a unit or as an add-on to curriculum. But in order for these lessons to be meaningful, they need to be part of everyday life in the classroom.