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Local preschool devoted to children with developmental differences blazes new trails with its vibrant virtual classroom

Teachers work with preschoolers on Zoom

Teachers work with preschoolers on Zoom

Teacher works with laptop to prepare for session

Teacher works with laptop to prepare for session

Preschool for children with developmental disabilities goes virtual with great success

We’ve combined technology, creativity, and our love of children to offer something really special.”
— Amanda Sloan
MOUNT VERNON, WA, USA, August 2, 2021 / -- When Covid-19 brought Skagit Preschool and Resource Center (SPARC) to an early close last Spring, staff worked quickly to launch a one-of-a-kind virtual classroom experience for the 2020-2021 school year. Teaching youngsters with developmental delays takes creativity and ingenuity. That same out-of-the-box thinking is responsible for creating a virtual classroom that has engaged toddlers and parents alike.

What used to be a 20 x 25 classroom is now a multi-dimensional virtual learning studio with three cameras, two wireless mics, and four colorfully distinct teaching areas. A detailed activity schedule, along with a production plan, requires two teachers and one ‘producer’ to pull off a Zoom session with parents and children. While teachers work their magic in front of the cameras, the producer works behind the scenes to manage the cameras, mics, laptop, and Zoom meeting controls.

Classroom sessions incorporate multiple highly-engaging activities, including arts and crafts, physical exercises, songs, memory games, sign language, and storytime. Sessions are offered twice a day, three days-a-week and last for approximately 40-minutes.

“It’s exciting to teach children in a way that’s new for all of us,” said Susy Cruz, SPARC Instructional Assistant. “We are learning unique ways to engage children and are having a lot of fun in the process!”

To support virtual learning and encourage participation, teachers make bi-weekly visits to student homes to drop off a craft-making schedule and the supplies to make them. For example, an upcoming Valentine’s Day project that crafts a ladybug heart uses red and black construction paper, pipe cleaners, google eyes, glue, scissors, and tape.

“If given a choice, I would stay virtual because we find it so enjoyable,” said Guadalupe Byrd, a preschooler parent. “The teachers have given us a lot of tools to work with, which have helped us support our child’s learning while staying safe at home.”
SPARC’s virtual classroom allows teachers, speech and occupational therapists to bring customized learning opportunities into local families’ homes. “Families can experience first-hand what their child is learning from the comfort and safety of their own home,” said Amanda Sloan, Executive Director. “We’ve combined technology, creativity, and our love of children to offer something really special.”

Funding for the virtual classroom was made possible through SPARC’s generous community partners, including Skagit Community Foundation, The City of Mount Vernon, and the Economic Development Alliance of Skagit County.

About Skagit Preschool and Resources Center

SPARC is a non-profit neurodevelopmental center in Skagit County that provides family education opportunities, engagement, and support services to children from birth to age five. SPARC is a 501C3 nonprofit located in Mount Vernon, Washington, founded in 1964 by a small group of families raising a child with a disability. SPARC is one of nineteen Neurodevelopmental Centers in Washington State providing therapy and related services to young children with neuromuscular or other developmental delays or disabilities.

Rebecca P Murray
Rebecca Pierce Murray
+1 360-854-8518
email us here

Take a look inside our virtual preschool