Since mid-March Texas Southmost College’s Raul J. Guerra Early Childhood Center followed the college’s lead in extending spring break and then closing. The center serves more than 50 children between the ages of two weeks to 6 years old.
“These have been trying times,” said the center’s manager Marisela Nava. “We most definitely miss our children and families, but our main concern is the safety and well-being of all of our families and staff.”
To assist the children and their families with the transition, the center’s staff recently distributed instructional backpacks. Each bag was filled with customized, age-appropriate activities for each child to take home.
“We felt it was important to provide the families with activities to provide the children with some sort of normalcy during these unprecedented times,” said Nava. “This also gives their parents an opportunity to engage with their children in educational ways.”
Every activity ties into the curriculum the children were following in the classroom.
“It’s important that we keep their young minds focused in hopes that when the center reopens, it won’t be such a drastic change for them,” said Nava.
In addition to the backpacks, the staff also provided parents with the link to the Activity Circle Family Collection. This translates child development research into practice by providing a variety of hands-on activities to do at home.
“Until we resume to some sort of normalcy and we’re able to safely open again, our preschool teachers and staff will utilize Zoom video conferencing as an additional option for parents and children,” said Nava. “And of course we will continue to work remotely from home for our families and conducting virtual meetings.”
TSC student Ariana Sanchez’s 3-year-old daughter Ariel Sanchez attends the center. She says the activities that the center provided have kept her daughter engaged in schoolwork and entertained.
“I really felt bad for her when the center closed. She loves going school; she craves learning,” said Sanchez. “It’s been hard for her, but the activities we got allow us to practice her letter, numbers and writing together until the school opens again. I love that.”
Sanchez added that the virtual activities and story times every Tuesday and Thursday via Zoom have helped her daughter cope with missing her teachers and students.
Nava said there is no plan on reopening the center until TSC administration advises and it is deemed safe by national, state and local government.
She added that she knows children may struggle with the significant adjustments in their daily routines happening right now, which is why it was important for the center to distribute backpacks and continue to implement fun activities that involve the entire family.
“COVID-19 has changed many lives, and our lives will continue to change,” said Nava. “But supporting our children’s emotional well-being during this pandemic is of utmost importance to us all.”