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October 2020


“Anyone who does anything to help a child is a hero to me.” – Fred Rogers, Television Personality I read recently that with COVID-19 causing widespread school closures, children across the country are being given alternate resources, some online, to study outside of the classroom. Temporary solutions being devised for remote education range from online classroom tools like Google Classroom, to Zoom and podcasts by teachers. While parents are adjusting to this new scenario, during this time it’s also important to help kids stay focused on learning and avoid overuse of games, social media, and videos. This is a stressful, unpredictable time for everyone, including families, parents and children. Parents can help their children by providing them with a structure and routine and being a positive force in their education. However, parents cannot manage these new challenges alone. Kate Loguercio, a hospital-based teacher with Patient Academic Services at Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital, advises that for families navigating the challenges of the new coronavirus (COVID-19) era, it can seem a bit like a play in three acts – only in this case, all the acts are happening at once. You are a parent, you are a teacher and you are a professional – all at the same time. “School provides a sense of comfort and normalcy for many children,” says Loguercio. “This change in routine is uncomfortable and scary.” With the onset of COVID, our educational system and other forms of learning changed overnight. Suddenly, schools were closed to onsite learning. Athletics and after school programs such as music, theater, dance and other enrichment programs were immediately postponed or canceled. And early education centers closed. According to Loguercio, “early education is defined as a branch of the educational system that deals with the growth and development of infants and children up to age eight.” Researchers have concluded over the last several years that early education is of paramount importance to the proper growth and development of children into healthy teens and adults. Suddenly, one or two-income earner households found themselves having to make tough financial decisions. A parent or guardian would now be required to stay home to tend to their children absent school and early education options. And first responder parents were “called to service” by state and local officials. A perfect storm had occurred. Fortunately, within two weeks of the State of Michigan’s stay in place, shelter in place order, the historic Community House rose to the crisis and answered a new call: virtual and remote (early education) learning for children/families. Never before had The Community House offered virtual or remote learning. But the community needed it. Our children needed it. It changed our focus and mission. By mid-March, the fearless and dedicated staff at The Community House, particularly the teaching staff of the Early Childhood (ECC) Infant and Toddler Centers, transformed their award-winning High Scope and Great Start to Quality early education programming/curriculum into remote learning for nearly one hundred children, ages three months - five years. Up to three times a day, five days a week our ECC staff delivered early education programming and activities into area households virtually. While families were still in shutdown mode at home, TCH’s Early Childhood, Infant & Toddler students stay connected to the teaching staff, their classes and activities – and most importantly to each other – their friends and classmates. By June, with gathering caps for children lifted, The Community House and its ECC staff welcomed area children back to The Community House under a “new” normal. Since that time, ECC staff have resumed its pre-COVID programming and expanded its offerings, in person and virtually, to help new and existing families in desperate need of care and early education of their children. Space at The Community House that has remained empty for months during the pandemic has now been converted into classroom space for more children. Not unlike other pivotal moments in our history when The Community House, its building and staff have been called to a new, perhaps higher calling (TCH tended to soldiers during wartime, became a domestic help employment center after the war, other moments) tending to and caring for area children during this national crisis has transformed our mission and purpose. Led by Ruth Shain, it is what the founders of The Community House envisioned and expected. We have answered the call. To schedule a tour or to enroll a child into our Early Childhood, Infant or Toddler Centers, please go to communityhouse.com or call 248.644.5832 and ask for Melissa Rejc, VP, TCH Early Childhood Programs. Reservations are being accepted. Space is limited. Be safe, stay well. William D. Seklar is President & CEO of The Community House and The Community House Foundation in Birmingham.

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