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How will the pandemic affect preschool children in the long run?

Preschool walk -- The Hot Mess Press

Two professors and a graduate assistant at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, published an article on theconversation.com website in November. They addressed the expected impact of the pandemic on preschool kids.

They are Michele L. Stites, Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, Susan Sonnenschein, Professor, Applied Developmental Psychology and Samantha H. Galczyk, Graduate Assistant.

They say the parents of many preschool kids are concerned about them losing out on learning essential skills. With the second wave of an even more transmissible Covid 19 virus, many school districts are unsure if and when schools will reopen in January. Children in elementary, middle school and higher are typically able to manage remote schooling to some extent. However, most younger kids between ages 3 and 6 cannot do virtual learning without adult help.

Preschool group
Photo by UiHere

Why is preschool important?

Although parents are ready and able to help the preschoolers, many are also working from home. They must divide their time between their jobs and their young children. However, even if they assist with virtual learning, they remain concerned about the kids being denied crucial parts of their preschool experience. Losing out on developing behavioral, emotional and social skills are the primary concerns of parents. Interactions with other children and their teachers play essential roles in their development.

The authors, who are researchers of children’s educational development, agree that the social and academic skills they learn at the preschool level are an essential foundation for later school years.

How can parents help their preschool children?

The authors suggested the following ways in which parents can make up for some degree of virtual learning disadvantages.

Parent and children
Photo-by-Mick-Haupt-on-Unsplash

Playing games with preschool kids

Without your kids even realizing it, games could teach math and reading skills. More importantly, game playing is an excellent way to encourage social development. Essentially, taking turns and handling losses will provide valuable skills for years to come.

Father reading bedtime story
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Reading

We all know the value of reading for children, but also for them to learn to read. Sharing stories help children with the social aspects of interacting with others. At the same time, you can add to building their social skills by discussing the characters in the story. Ask them how they would feel or what they would do in similar circumstances.

Preschooler in nature
Photo by pxfuel.com

Spend time in nature

Take walks and teach your kids how to identify objects, sounds, colors and shapes. It will not only have educational value but also encourage conversation about feelings. You can use this time to share your feelings with them to show them that it is okay to feel sad, lonely or irritated, and that talking about it might help.

Zoom Virtual Playdate
Photo credit Pinterest

Virtual play dates

Parents can never stand in for friends, and no contact with mates can be detrimental. Set up video calls with friends, grandparents and other close family members on any available platform. A grandparent can read bedtime stories on some nights. Similarly, you can have your child play games with their friends over Zoom.

You can go here for five ways to help your preschooler learn essential math skill in ways easily integrated into their daily lives. Here’s what you will find if you follow the link:

Preschool counting
Photo by pxfuel.com

Counting and cardinality for learning simple counting skills and understanding that the last item they counted makes up the number of items or objects in the counted set.

Operations and algebraic thinking will help them solve simple additions and subtractions by using objects.

Numbers and operations in base 10, for example, learning that the number “ten” consists of 10 “ones.”

Measurement and data to teach preschoolers to sort objects by size, color, shape and features like bigger, longer, shorter and smaller.

Geometry skills involve identifying and naming 2D shapes like triangles, squares and circles.

Preschool shapes
Photo by pxfuel.com

In closure

Good luck and stay strong. My sympathy is with any parents who have to cope with keeping their own careers on track during the pandemic. However, those who must also make sure their preschoolers do not miss out on learning character building lessons and skills while schools are closed deserve twice as much sympathy from me.

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