Although all of the programs at New Haven Reads — from the daily tutoring sessions to the summer camps — are now running smoothly, the transition to online distance learning was no small feat.
In fact, Pre-K & Kindergarten Director Allison Pittman at first wondered if it would even be possible to plan and execute an enjoyable and effective distance learning camp for her students.
“Having done distance learning with my Kindergarten students in the Spring [as a Kindergarten teacher], I thought distance learning might be a disaster,” she said.
But it has been anything but a disaster! “It’s actually going really, really well,” Allison shared. Students are learning five days a week, participating in activities as varied as scavenger hunts to letters of the day. There are also informative presentations for the students. Every Friday, Norwalk Aquarium joins the Zoom session to talk about the aquarium and about ocean-life. And thanks to a generous grant from the Women’s Seamen’s Friend Society of Connecticut, our students received six brand new ocean related books, ocean-themed backpacks, and more.
These backpacks, along with other supplies, were actually an important part of the success of the virtual format. The teachers packed these drawstring backpacks with their workbooks, pencils, and everything else they might need for camp. By asking that they keep it by their computer each day, they were able to provide some much-needed structure and organization for students.
Ultimately, although the backpacks and supplies were helpful, the key to the camp’s success came down to one thing: the educators. In talking with Allison, it was clear how much time, effort, and meticulous planning was required.
“Generally, our teachers plan as they go based on the kids, but we had to adjust that model,” she explained. They had to pre-plan everything — including the new activities like scavenger hunts and dance videos — in order to send all the assignments out beforehand, so that the students would have them at their home at the start of camp.
We are so thankful to our staff at New Haven Reads whose dedication and commitment have made the online transition possible for our students!