As many businesses, schools and daycares have closed across the county in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, All God’s Children Early Learning Academy in Nolensville has adapted to embrace distance-learning with their free AGC Online Academy.
The program is an effort to continue to teach lessons with the school's approximately 175 students.
Founder and COO Tamyra Brown said in a phone call that although the online component is new, the positive response from parents has already made the distance learning tools an important part of the academy, one that they plan to continue in some capacity for the foreseeable future.
The academy has been open for six years and serves children aged six weeks to 5 yeas old and also operates a summer program, but this, Brown said, has been a different experience.
“It’s been a little bit of a challenge, but we’re trying to be creative and letting parents who are working from home still maintain some kind of structure or order with their kids,” Brown said.
The academy that normally operates a 30-person staff has now begun offering morning story time, late morning kid fitness, arts and crafts using readily available products at home, downloadable journal pages, bible story and science experiments all through their Facebook page using videos and other online resources.
And as every opportunity is a learning experience, Brown said that the children were taught why they were seeing changes in their school and, of course, how to stay clean and healthy leading up to the academy suspending normal business on Tuesday as a health precaution.
“The conversation we have with kids is we talked to them about why drop-off looked different, why mommy and daddy can’t walk through the building, we stamped our kids hands everyday and by the end of the day the stamp has to be gone because we are washing our hands more than normal,” Brown said. “We’re always washing our hands a lot at the preschool.”
K-Readiness teacher Kelli Palmer has hosts the morning story time videos and said that her experiences with homeschooling her four children, as well as previously hosting online fitness videos and a talk show, has come together at this important moment to continue to help children.
“I kind of saw the need for that and said, ‘I have the time and the knowledge and they need it, so why not put it out there?’” Palmer said. “As the Facebook posts were being shared, more people were chiming in on it and saying that they were tuning in and that their children loved it, or they were sharing a picture of their child watching the show and engaging with the questions I would ask.”
Palmer said that this opportunity to help children learn during an unprecedented challenge feels like a moment of calling to help those in need.
“I just feel like God has given me so many opportunities in my life that have been brought together in this moment,” Palmer said. “One, to have the awareness that there was this need, two, to have this knowledge on what the parents need during this time, and three, having the technically ability through All God’s Children platform to be able to deliver it.”
Palmer said that within distance learning it’s important to not only have resources that are accessible to parents but to have a program that can be familiar and personal to children that can help them both learn and feel comfortable in a new learning environment, where learning can happen both through videos or by simple acts such as cooking a meal together.
“A lot of the educational resources that are out there are impersonal,” Palmer said, “The resources are there but the support of how to use those resources is what’s lacking so that’s what we’re trying to do.”
More information about All God’s Children Early Learning Academy including all of their distance learning lessons and videos can be found here on their Facebook page.