Gifts We Will Take with Us… After the Pandemic

Posted on 12/04/2020 @ 07:00 AM

Tags: Jewish Schools & Educational Services

As we explored in an earlier articleour ECE teachers and directors have had to do many things differently because of the pandemic and its stringent health protocols:
 
  • Class sizes are smaller and room space needs to be larger.
  • No more specialists-- class teachers are doing it all, from language development to music to cooking.
  • New routines abound, from how drop off and pick up are happening, to using the playgrounds, to hand sanitizing, and more.
  • Parents are staying in their cars rather than parking and being actively engaged in the school.
 
It is certainly challenging for our early childhood educators to juggle necessary life-sustaining health measures while ensuring our children are growing and developing physically, emotionally, cognitively and spiritually. 
 
We are seeing concerning language and speech delays caused partly from wearing life-saving masks. We are missing children in the classroom whose parents are not yet comfortable putting their children in group settings. 
 
Yet, despite all of this, blessings abound during the pandemic:
 
  • Our children are resilient, and their educators revel in watching their enthusiasm for learning and practicing new routines or activities.  
  • Another is that parents are even more appreciative of their ECE teachers and are jumping in to support the teachers and their programs in creative and new ways. 

At the recent Jewish Early Childhood Professional Network (JECPN) meeting, the ECE directors were asked: 
 
What will you take with you and continue to do after the pandemic is over?
 
A lively discussion ensued amongst the participants: Sharon Eichberg (Gan Katan), Mikki Feinberg (Temple Judea), Jenny Tettner Gugig (MARJCC), Katy Horowitz (Gan Katan), Sandra Blasberg Imar (Alper JCC), Erica Kalish (Lehrman Community Day School), Sandra Kopp (Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus), Andrea Lang (Beth Moshe), Talia Levine (Toras Chaim Toras Emes), Raquel Sultan (RASG Hebrew Academy), Margie Zeskind (Temple Beth Sholom) and Sharon Zweig (Yeshiva Elementary). 
 
Here are some of the things they will carry forward with them after the Covid-19 pandemic:
 
  • We must always remember that we are stronger together; we appreciate each other’s gifts and talents; we can weather any storm and challenge by supporting one another.
  • Challenges force us to stretch our creativity muscles and explore how we can do things differently to produce even better results.
  • Sometimes less is more. The children’s learning experiences are at the core of our work and we do not always need vast, complex programming to create compelling, active learning.
  • We should go outside more frequently. Though this can be challenging in our South Florida heat, we have so many opportunities to connect to nature and the world around us, especially during our November-April weather.
  • Gathering online for parent-teacher conferences and certain meetings. Working families and non-local grandparents have found virtual platforms much more convenient and welcoming for them. 
 
Covid-19 has changed the way we do many things. Yet one factor remains the same: our early childhood educators’ commitment to the children and their families and to creating and nurturing relationships that become the beginning of many family’s Jewish journey.
 
Todah Rabbah- thank you to our Jewish early childhood educators for the “essential work” they do each and every day!