A month ago, our family's day-to-day life and rhythms were disrupted in a matter of hours with the city's shelter-in-place order and school closings. As we heard that Donum Dei would need to close it's physical doors that Thursday, we also received news that classes would be moved online to maintain the same learning experiences and community-building the students had in-person. Within hours, we received our daughter’s work for the following week along with her materials and textbooks. We were blown away by how seamless the transition was for such a sudden shift of this magnitude. The following Monday, distance education began. The school and her class did not skip a beat; we continue to marvel and thank God for the diligence and organization of the teachers and staff.
Our Pre-K morning starts with Pre-K and Kindergarten coming together for the morning. Our first couple of weeks in distance education had its expected initial challenges. One of our biggest challenges was helping our Pre-K student settle into a new routine using technology platforms she was not familiar with including teaching her boundaries and etiquette of being in a virtual classroom. Being together and relational in person is something our daughter deeply missed; engaging with her Pre-K and Kindergarten classmates in a familiar class routine was and continues to be a gift to our whole family during this season. Another challenge for us is how to protect her learning space and maintain minimal distractions from when her little brother becomes an unexpected visitor. :) The class as a whole has been so wonderful in navigating these challenges with us. On the flip side, she loves to give her classmates a glimpse of her family and home life, a glimpse that wouldn't normally happen.
After our break, the Pre-K students have math and phonics together just like they would in the classroom. In math, they might read a story about counting or have a car race when learning 'first', 'second', 'third' in their lesson. We are amazed each day how much distance education can mirror their classroom experience. In phonics, they talk about rhyming words, blend sounds together, and practice writing during dictation. These were things they were doing in the classroom, and it has been a blessing to see this translate into our virtual classroom. I stay nearby to help with the work she's doing, any technology issues, getting crayons, sharpening pencils, etc. In one instance, I couldn't help right away with a video issue. Though it was tough for her to only hear her teacher and not see the book they were reading, she was able to adapt and wait patiently for the video to be fixed. This season has been full of these moments, moments for us to experience the unexpected. Moments of adapting to how life has changed. Moments to pivot and find ways to still do things as best as we can. Moments to still build community and be relational. Moments where we discover that social distancing does not keep us from building relationships with one another, and that we can still have strong, exciting learning experiences. For us, Donum Dei Distance Education has been full of these moments that continue to build up our students and families.
Diana Wang, Pre-K Mom at Donum Dei