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Teachers, parents, and those interested in joining the education sector as a career are all feeling overwhelmed by COVID-19 and the effects it is having on the way we educate our children. Schools are scrambling to create socially distanced plans for learning while kids are home for the summer forcing parents and caregivers to find creative ways to keep them engaged.

Here at Pickens Technical College, our Early Childhood Education program is designed to provide the skills needed to secure employment as a Teaching Assistant in a childcare center, preschool, or elementary school. While we normally pride ourselves on giving this training in a classroom setting and in our licensed, on-site, childcare facility, we recognize that everyone is having to adapt and pivot their strategies to our new “normal”.

Here’s a roadmap of how to keep kids on track, even if they’re not in the classroom:

1. Pick Skills to Focus On

Juggling too many subjects at once can negatively impact a child’s learning curve. If math is a problem subject, for instance, zero in on what can be improved upon there before school starts again this fall.

2. Unplug

There is a TON going on in the world right now. As overwhelming as it can be for adults, imagine how a child would process a lot of the information being broadcast on the news. Make sure to check in, ask how children are feeling, remind them that they are safe and that things will return to normal eventually.

3. Loosen Up

Sometimes, letting your silliness out can be fantastic for creativity and new connections. Sing a song, dance in the living room, write crazy stories and share them – you get the picture. Encouraging children to get out of their comfort zone and embrace the inherent creativity that comes with childhood.

It’s helpful to look at this time as an opportunity, not a hindrance. It allows those interested in childhood development to really see how children progress up close and analyze their needs, without the stressors of a classroom.

No matter what happens in the coming months, education and childcare must remain priorities, especially here in Colorado – a state that struggles with graduation rates and inequality. Understanding how to reach children, even in nontraditional settings, could become an invaluable skill in the very near future.