Creating Special Moments for Young Children Online
by Carla Goldberg, Early Childhood Director
When I tell people that Akiba's Early Childhood Program has gone online their response is often, "Really, how in the world do you do that?" After I explain, the next question tends to be, "... and why do you do it?"
These are both very valid questions and probably ones we have all asked ourselves. Now, after participating in Akiba Atmosphere for many weeks (or is it years?)' I feel strongly that I have the answer to both questions.
We created online classes at Akiba by thinking of our children first. We consider the children in each particular classroom, and think about how we can plan programming that will engage them, make them think and help them to connect with other children and adults outside of their own household.
This is holding to our core value of teaching children, not subjects. It's amazing to me how this one phrase can actually embody so very much.
Our "why" in providing online learning for young children is simple: It is because we care about the mental health of our children. We want to create something that they can look forward to, a place where they can see their friends and teachers and have a routine for their day. With so much unpredictability right now, the online schedule creates a framework that children can count on and lean into each day or whenever they are able to attend. We know that it is not a perfect platform for each child.
Yet we know that we will continue to work tirelessly to create moments for each child that feel important, powerful and remind them that they are a part of a larger community that loves them and cares about them.
Every day there are moments that are truly incredible and thought provoking. Children are continuing to do "deep dives" into learning and are working on their critical thinking skills.
In Afternoon Explorers this week, the children came up with "super powers" that they would like to have and then wrote a comic together in which they were the heroes. There were Spiderman and Batman powers, super speed and strength, and then Annika shared her super power that "Can make the Corona virus go away." Those are powerful words and thoughts from a five year old about what she would like to be able to do in this world. Our online classroom gave her the space to share these ideas and feelings.
This week we have been celebrating Yom HaAtzma'ut (Israel's birthday). Each classroom has made flags, plane tickets and learned about the country of Israel. Today we "flew" to Israel and celebrated Shabbat together. Our teachers reported from different cities and locations all over Israel and shared what is special about the different parts of Israel.
|Kindergartener Meira and her brother Stuart (2nd) created a Kotel in their living room.
One of our Kindergarten students, Meira and her brother Stuart, are so excited about the "trip" that they created a giant Kotel (Western Wall) in their living room, complete with areas to put notes inside of it, just like the real Wall. This excitement and engagement is even more than we could have hoped for when planning this week! We are providing them with things to look forward to when everything right now is so uncertain in the world.
It is an honor and privilege to be creating these memories along with your children. Thank you for continuing to engage with us even when we are apart, and for recognizing the important work we are all doing together for our very youngest children. I hope that we can all take a minute and celebrate these special little victories together.
Summer Program Update: We are closely monitoring the upcoming guidelines and suggestions and will be providing you with updates about Akiba's Summer program as soon as possible. We appreciate your patience and understanding as we are working with many organizations to provide clear health and safety guidelines for our children and staff.
Stay safe and healthy at home and Shabbat Shalom!