Due to the Shelter-In-Place order in the first months of the COVID-19 pandemic, many child care programs ceased in-person classes which made it necessary for teachers to transition to remote teaching as well as remote learning for themselves. As a part of our efforts to support the early childhood education community during this transition, First 5 Santa Cruz County’s Early Learning Foundations (ELF) department have been conducting virtual professional development trainings to child care providers to ensure that connection and learning could continue.
All SEEDS of Learning programs were updated to accommodate a Zoom format including: 1) “Diving Deeper into SEEDS of Early Math” for center-based Pre-K and TK teachers; 2) “SEEDS of Early Literacy” for Spanish-speaking family child care providers and 3) Diving Deeper into SEEDS for PreK center-based teachers. First 5 SCC Master Literacy Coach, Irene Freiberg tells us that the Zoom classes have been well received. “We have had to creatively engage students so they feel they are genuinely participating in a class and not just sitting passively looking at a computer screen. We realize that teaching styles of both class instructors and classroom teachers have had to evolve to ensure that young children, regardless of their situation, enjoy the experience of learning, while continuing to engage with their teachers and classmates. The focus of the Fall class has been how to include social/emotional learning (SEL) into teachers’ lesson plans especially for the distance learning classrooms while offering some literacy and math activities that are fun and meaningful for children. Many of our lab materials are planned with distance learning in mind and therefore SEEDS has focused on making and using lots of hands-on activities with a special focus on recyclable materials that children would have access to at home.”
Teachers have found teaching young children during this time of COVID challenging. The unique and intricate nature of the current situation means everybody has had to adapt. Teachers have shared that they are thankful that SEEDS has offered this opportunity to interact with one another, ask questions of each other and share what they are doing in their classrooms:
- “I like hearing the ideas of other teachers.”
- “We’ve had to learn a total new way of teaching. I have gotten some really good creative ideas from the SEEDS class to use with my distance learning class.”
- “The materials were wonderful. They helped me connect easier with my distance learning children.”
Quality Counts Santa Cruz County (QCSCC) has also moved to supporting programs through weekly director and teaching community update, hosted by First 5’s Quality Counts Program Manager, Meghan Reilly. The ever-changing landscape of COVID-19 California Department of Education recommendations are discussed along with best health practices for keeping children attending in-person as well as staff safe during the pandemic. QCSCC has also played an integral role in converting over $358,000 in First 5 California IMPACT and local funding into an Emergency Response Fund that has provided cash assistance to 212 child care programs (center-based and family child care) that are caring for the children of essential workers and at-risk populations during the pandemic.