Some working parents struggle with child care for their school-aged children due to the limitations put on society by COVID-19 and the Union County Public Schools remote learning requirement. Having few child care options for K-5 students puts stress on families. South Piedmont Community College’s Early Childhood Education program recognized this new challenge for the community and reached out to UCPS to become part of the solution.
Dr. Sharon Little, South Piedmont’s program director for early childhood education, contacted UCPS with a partnership idea and in just a few short weeks, childcare support for families is now more readily available.
“Our area’s childcare centers had plenty of materials for children ages 0-3, but really weren’t prepared for older elementary students.” said Dr. Little.
Now, through this new partnership, UCPS has created a Lending Library for childcare centers offering supplies and learning tools in math, science, and literacy for K-5 students.
“The childcare centers have become like one room schoolhouses,” explained Dr. Laurel Healy, director of K-12 curriculum and instruction at UCPS. “The children come from all different schools and all different grade levels.”
In addition to providing needed supplies, this new partnership has met the need of childcare providers who were asking for training to best help K-5 students navigate their online courses. To fill this technology gap, UCPS created online resources and best practices modules to better equip childcare workers assisting students in online learning.
“The training will help them help us,” said Lori Peyton, instructional coach administrator at UCPS.
Without the support of childcare centers, many students might fall behind in learning, especially kindergartners and first graders who may not have experience using a computer or lack the ability to read.
With over 60 childcare centers in the county facing the challenges of educating school age children on a daily basis, Tonya Silas, SPCC faculty member and president of Union County Childcare Association, was hearing concerns from both providers and her own Early Childhood Education student teachers.
“We are encouraging our students to offer extra support to their centers by helping school age children learn math and reading,” said Silas.
Childcare workers were invited by the Childcare Association to visit the UCPS Warehouse last week to borrow supplies from their Lending Library including books, whiteboards, and math games. These materials are part of the inventory shared during summer camps and other programs in the county throughout the year.
“One silver lining I see through all of this,” said Dr. Healy, “childcare workers are seeing first-hand how to better prepare preschool aged children by understanding what they are learning in kindergarten and first grade.”
For more information about the early childhood education program at South Piedmont, visit https://spcc.edu/areas-of-study/education/