As you reopen your center, there will be mixed feelings about when to return. I like to compare it to an iPhone update. You have three categories of people: those who get the update immediately, those who wait a week or two to see if it crashes their phone or improves their phone, and those who wait until they absolutely have to do the update for their phone to work.
Much like the iPhone update comparison, some families will be waiting at the door five minutes before you open on day one, some waiting a few weeks or months to see if it’s safe, and some not ready to return in-person for a while. There’s nothing wrong with any of these choices, and it’s important to offer options to families who do not return right away.
Here are some ways you can balance both meeting the needs of those at home with those who are coming in-person:
Broadcast Some Classes
During scheduled times such as circle time, allow kids from home to tune in through Zoom. Set up your computer with camera capabilities with the circle of children that are in person, and have kids join in remotely. They can unmute themselves when it comes time for their turn to participate. This will help kids at home feel part of the group.
Have students who are in-person at school “buddy up” with someone who is at home on FaceTime or Zoom to do partner work. They can read stories to each other, watch a video and discuss it together, complete a project together. This will be fun for both kids involved.
Create Lesson Bags
When gathering supplies for a hands-on lesson, put some aside and place in a gallon Ziploc bag or larger bag. Contact parents who have kids at home to come pick up their lesson bags and label the bags with the date and time. Have kids tune into the lesson live on Zoom or record yourself going over the lesson instructions on YouTube.
Create YouTube Videos
Creating YouTube content is a great way to keep kids at home engaged. Have children who are in person at your center help create content with parent permission. The children at home will love this! Make sure the settings are private so that only your subscribers can view it.
Let Teachers Join In From Home
If you have any teachers who have stayed at home due to vulnerability with COVID-19, have them conduct Zoom storytimes or sessions with small groups of kids at home to add another layer of participation.
Teachers will tend to spend most of their time focusing on the children who are in-person. But that doesn’t mean the kids at home can’t join in on the fun. Any time you see something fun that can be done at home, copy and paste the link. Virtual field trips, celebrity storytimes, yoga videos, etc. can be easily shared with families. Once a month, consider having an “all-school” dance party or Netflix watch party, etc. to keep the community! This may go on for quite some time, so creating a balance of inclusion for all kids, whether in-person or at-home, will set everyone at ease during these uncertain times.