Distance learning in Kindergarten world has been in full swing for almost three weeks. We are getting to learn “classroom” routines, learning about each other, celebrating birthdays and sharing about the tooth fairy visiting. We are learning to keep ourselves muted during instruction and raising our hands before sharing. We are also learning letters and sounds, exploring number concepts, and the number of syllables in our names.
Every morning when I log on I am greeted by beautiful and eager learners, ready for the day. Some days the computer freezes and we have to take a break. Other days, friends get kicked out and can’t get back in to our virtual classroom. Like all things, some days are better than others but I’m constantly in awe of how vested and dedicated my classroom families are. They sit next to their little ones, cook and clean while lending a hand when necessary, and also manage to work and handle their personal work responsibilities. My little one was supposed to start preschool this fall, but due to the pandemic, I have the privilege to take her to my mom’s house while I work. I cannot imagine having to teach, plan, orchestrate an engaging live virtual lesson day in and day out if I also had to be responsible for my child’s school work. And yet, this is the hard and incredible reality for most. My hats off to you.
And, as if life is not already complicated during these precarious Covid times, some of my families are further challenged by other factors: limited resources, language barriers, spotty WiFi and multiple kids to support. Abuelitas and Abuelitos are stepping in, doing their best to support their grandchildren even though they have limited knowledge of computer technology. Neighbors are getting together to create learning pods to support parents who are not working remotely – and don’t have someone to watch their children. Backyards are being converted into classrooms and everyone is doing what they can to navigate this new normal.
This week we explored the number five. We counted up to five, and found different number combinations to represent the number five. I realized I needed to get manipulativses to model and practice one to one correspondence with my little ones. So in the meantime I found pennies and put them in a baggy and called it a day. After work, my mom asked, “How was your day?” I told her about my lack of manipulatives for my math block. My mom laughed and said, “When you were little we didn’t have manipulatives. I used frijoles and maiz to help you with number concepts.”
And just like that I remember sitting on the kitchen table while my mom cooked and I counted using my homemade math counters. I told my mom I am super grateful and impressed by the level of support and dedication families are providing their children. My mom then shared her struggles of trying to help me with my schoolwork when I was little with her limited English, limited resources and what seemed like, limited time. And yet, she showed up every single day to help me with my schoolwork, teaching me that my education was super important and my ticket to a better future.
And this is exactly what I see every morning. Grown ups figuring it out, showing up, and doing this ridiculously taxing job of parenting / educating their children during these crazy times. So to the families in my classroom, I see you. I see how hard you are working and how vested you are in helping your child succeed. And to all the parents, teachers, and kids, I see you, we see you, and we applaud you.
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”