COVID-19

Creating a Virtual Classroom

Creating a Virtual Classroom 1200 600 Way to Grow

By Deedee Stevens-Neal, Director of Education

Spring is definitely here and Way to Grow is keeping busy! Read on for an invitation to join our virtual Education is Power event, see children learning and working hard in our new virtual world, learn how we created a virtual classroom, and to get important updates on 2020 giving.

The teachers at our Way to Grow Preschool Pals are using creative ways to help keep both teachers and students connected during this peacetime emergency. Shortly after the stay-at-home order was placed, the team created a private Facebook group for the parents and children of the preschool. The teachers began creating videos from their homes that continued some of the children’s daily routines (such as discussing the calendar and letter of the week) and downloading them onto the private Facebook page. The families could respond via comments or send videos back. The teachers then incorporated these responses in their next video. The teachers also created videos of themselves reading books and giving ideas for easy activities that the families could do together. The books being featured are both in English and Spanish.

The preschool teachers then began scheduling virtual home visits to allow each child an opportunity to actually interact with the staff members. The teachers create a lesson plan that focuses on basic literacy skills and offers both quiet, sedentary activities and more active movement. Families sign up for visits at times that are convenient for them. Each child can have one visit per week so that they can continue their relationship with the teachers and continue to progress with their learning. These visits are in addition to virtual visits with their Family Educator.

The preschool virtual home visits have been a success! The teachers have had opportunities not only to connect with the children enrolled in the preschool, but also re-connect with older siblings that have attended in the past and younger siblings that may enroll in the future. Several children are using their families as part of the lesson. For example, one child was asked to name something that starts with a “W” and they ran out of the room to get their sister who was wearing a watch. Others have used their baby as an example of something loud and their moms as something that is beautiful.

It is important in this trying time to keep some stability and normalcy in the lives of these young learners. By giving the children these opportunities to remember their routines and practice their skills, we hope to come out of this time with children that are mentally healthy and developmentally prepared for kindergarten.

Your Community Needs You

Your Community Needs You 1000 584 Melissa Meyer

Our Way to Grow program is needed now more than ever. Schools are closed and parents are educating at home. Families are experiencing sudden unemployment and resource shortages. Accessing timely and necessary information in their home language is a challenge. The stress of this pandemic is adding more weight to the shoulders of families already isolated and trying to stay afloat.

We Can Help

Our work hasn’t stopped. Right now, “virtual home visits” are happening all over the Twin Cities. Our staff is:

  • Working with families language to language, culture to culture
  • Equipping parents to be their child’s foremost educator 
  • Helping parents navigate basic needs resources like food, employment, and healthcare  
  • Helping families keep their daily routines through these uncertain times

In the words of Lauren, a Way to Grow parent, “Miss Patricia [Family Educator] is my backup, my resource. I know I can count on her.”

Can we count on you?

Your community and your neighbors need you now. Here’s how you can help:

Financial donations are needed. Please consider a gift today to continue our virtual home visits and support check-ins with some of the most vulnerable families and children in our cities.

We have an immediate need for the following supplies to be sent directly to Way to Grow at 201 Irving Ave. N, Suite 100, Minneapolis, MN 55405:

  • Diapers, baby wipes, and formula
  • Cub gift cards
  • Target gift cards for food and household supplies
  • Books, games, and learning materials 

Thank you for your continued support—what we are doing together now, truly matters for so many.


Don’t forget to wash your hands!

Our Response to COVID-19

Our Response to COVID-19 5000 2500 Melissa Meyer

In the wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, top of mind is the health and safety of our Way to Grow staff, families, community partners, and neighbors. Knowing that our home visiting programming is a critical resource to our community, we have included an outline of our plan for continuing home visits while doing our part to limit the spread of COVID-19.  

To provide necessary parent and education support, we have moved to a “virtual visit” mode for home visits and support check-ins. All group education classes and events have been postponed until a later date based on direction from the Minnesota Department of Health and state public health officials. In addition, the Way to Grow preschool will be closed through the end of March, as we follow the Minneapolis Public Schools’ direction. We will continue to work to strengthen our internal structure to support virtual home visits and remote work options for all staff. 

We are monitoring updates and will follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Minnesota Department of Health, and state public health officials. These decisions are not made lightly, and we strive to maintain “business as usual” as best we can in a situation that can only be described as extraordinary and uncharted. 

Please remember that what we do together truly matters. Your support will be even more important as we move forward to continue educational home visiting and family support services to some of the most vulnerable people in our communities. Thank you for supporting us, supporting our families, and supporting one another as we all care for our neighbors.

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