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  • Elizabeth Crawford

Distance Learning in Early Childhood

For several weeks, teachers and children at the Marshall University Early Education STEAM Center, have been working in a unique way to continue communication and engagement. The early childhood center is a program of the June Harless Center and the College of Education and Professional Development. Since March, the Cabell County collaborative pre-k program housed in Corbly Hall on campus and at Explorer Academy in Huntington, has been closed due to the Covid-19 crisis. Even though the doors of the classrooms are shut, learning has not stopped.

The teachers at the MU Early Education STEAM Center, Claire McCoy and Kelcie Blankenship, have created a new way of learning for 4 and 5-year-old children which includes weekly zoom calls for “crew” meetings, virtual birthday celebrations, and engaging activities that are planned for families to do together. The teaching team is also using social media to provide special daily messages through the MU Early Education STEAM Center Facebook page which includes post topics such as Mindful Monday, Top Title Tuesday, Word of the Week Wednesday, and Thinking through Thursday. Ms. Kelcie and Ms. Claire were also featured in the Leaders of Literacy podcast (link below) which is a statewide initiative of the West Virginia Campaign for Grade Level Reading, a partnership of the West Virginia Department of Education and the June Harless Center. This podcast episode focused on the uncharted territory of digital learning.

This week Governor Justice announced that public schools would not reopen this year as a result of the Covid-19 virus. The Marshall University Early Education STEAM Center team have planned for a purposeful book distribution to support families this summer that will increase the number of books in the homes of our children. Research shows that children growing up in homes with no books are on average three years behind children in homes with many books, even when controlled for other key factors such as income and parents’ education. (Evans,, 2010). Just a dozen books selected by the child, at a total cost of about $50, can achieve the same improvements in school performance as $3,000 worth of summer school (Allington,, 2010).

The MU Early Education STEAM Center team is certainly disappointed that the school year is not going as planned but is very happy to make learning possible even in these challenging times.

Leaders of Literacy Podcast Episode 7:

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