By Betsy Connelly
One Schoolcraft preschool director has made it her goal to maintain an interactive and hands-on learning environment for her students from her home during the statewide shelter-in-place order. Darcy Bolles’ key to successfully achieving this goal while taking care of her own sheltered-in-place family can be summed up in one word: routine.
Bolles, preschool teacher and director of Schoolcraft Community Co-Op Preschool, has organized daily Zoom video chat sessions with her preschool students. “The kids love it. They miss being at school but they love sharing their houses with their friends, showing everyone their rooms and their toys. It makes me smile seeing their little faces smiling every day.”
Her purpose is having fun and maintaining normalcy with the preschoolers. “They don’t understand what’s going on, they don’t bring it up, so we don’t talk about it. I want to keep things as normal as possible in a time that is very difficult for a lot of
The biggest challenge involved with adjusting from in-school classes to online classes has been the loss of touch. Bolles has countered this loss by assigning the students hands-on activities they can do with items already in their homes such as riding bikes, reading to stuffed animals and drawing with sidewalk chalk. The classroom caterpillars have come home with her so she can teach the children via Zoom about caterpillars’ metamorphoses into butterflies.
Bolles is making efforts to help the parents of her preschoolers as well. She and the preschool board have decided not to charge parents for tuition for the month of April since classes only meet online for half an hour each day. Still, she finds that these 30-minute Zoom sessions provide parents with a much-needed break each day.
The Zoom sessions are only part of her daily routine. Each morning she helps her older son, Carter, age nine, with his school work. Then at 11 a.m., she video chats with her preschoolers, followed by lunch. After lunch, she works with her younger son Owen, a special-needs six year old, with his physical and occupational therapy.
Bolles hopes we, as a society, can emerge at the end of this pandemic with a new understanding of the importance of family. Owen, who has a low immune system due to his special needs, was hospitalized last year and Darcy spent many nights staying there with him while Carter and her husband were home. This year, the whole family is home together, enjoying each other’s company.
Her greatest discovery has been how resilient people are. She hopes people will continue to be as patient and understanding as they have been. “The going has gotten tough and we’ve worked together. We check on each other and we appreciate what we have a little more. We need to realize that life is special and fragile. We need to take advantage of and enjoy what we’ve been given, and that’s family.”