Small World Early Childhood Center (211 Ainslie Street) is a wonderful example of the City’s UPK and child care centers that reopened for the school year in September. Small World accepts two-, three-, and four-year-olds. On visiting the center safety protocols were in full swing. A staff member took the temperature of all who entered, and once cleared the adults filled out and signed a health survey. The classrooms have a new limited class size, and all the students wore masks. The curriculum which includes art, creative play, story time, outdoor play, and early learning was maintained as in previous years but with a few adaptations for safety purposes. For example, in a classroom each activity was limited to a few students. Students would select which available activity they wanted to participate in, and their name would go on that activity on a chart. This way toys, art supplies, areas, etc. could be sanitized between students.
Other changes are the children are served individual meals instead of family style. There is a distinction between “street” shoes and “school” shoes. Parents drop off children in the lobby. There are established pods of students and staff that are kept consistent, no substitutes or co-mingling of classroom for shared activities.
There are also virtual learning options for those who wish to remain at home due to a preference for remote or blended mode, vacations, or illness. Google Classroom is utilized to share lessons, activities, and interactions between the educational and support staff with families.
Staci White, Small World Early Childhood Director, has made child and family safety priority one this year. The in-classroom attendance is at 80% of their goals for pre-COVID times. The center is also a resource for the entire family. “We conducted three virtual family workshops since reopening. The kids are adjusted, healthy, happy learning, and growing. We are now adjusted, conducting initial student assessments, and setting learning goals for students.” said White.