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Stories from the field: How to be child-led through virtual learning

With child care programs closed around the country, there has been an incredible push by the early learning community to support parents in the care and education of their young children. Much of this ends up looking like prescriptive lesson plans that may or may not work for all families.

For Leigh Reveno, owner and director of Leigh’s House, a Reggio-inspired in-home preschool program in Piedmont, CA, prescriptive lesson plans are counter to the Reggio approach. Reveno has been thinking an awful lot about how to continue to be child-led while also supporting parents with ideas for their kids at home.

Responding to Covid-19

Reveno’s program has remained open during shelter-in-place orders in the Bay Area, but like many programs, she only has a few children coming each day. Creating learning experiences for the kids who are coming is easy– it’s business as usual. But Reveno was stuck on how to create continuity with what they were doing in the program to include the kids at home without being too prescriptive.

A child finds a ladybug.

It turns out she didn’t need to completely rethink how she did things after all. One day the kids coming to the program observed some ladybugs in her yard. This was the jumping off point for a lot of questions and conversations about ladybugs. Because ladybugs are not limited to the backyard at Leigh’s House, Reveno saw an opportunity to bring the rest of her families into this exploration by using one of her most powerful tools: communication.

To get started Reveno sent out a plan to parents that included different ideas they could choose from with their kids, for example going on a nature walk. Then, during a Zoom circle time, Reveno led a “what do we know / what do we wonder” session about ladybugs. Reveno ordered a live ladybug kit for her program.

They released the ladybugs in her backyard and recorded it so the kids who are at home could participate. She also shared with parents where they could buy ladybugs in case they wanted to do

Ladybug release in the Leigh’s House play yard.

this with their child as well. She had a family choose to do a ladybug release at home and they similarly recorded it and shared it out with the class.

The children were able to discuss the different releases– what was the same, what was different, and answer some of their “I wonder” questions from the beginning.

Continuing to follow the children

The children at Leigh’s House will be making a natural transition from ladybugs into gardening next, with tons of opportunities for kids to get hands-on wherever they are.

Looking for more ideas for virtual circle time? Click here.


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