How Coronavirus Has Impacted Early Childhood Education in Stamford


Lisa Cody

A classroom at Apples Preschool in Stamford, which has had to make accomodations in the wake of the pandemic.

Claire Cody, Correspondent

Making new friends, playing with toys, and learning your ABCs. These are all things you probably remember doing if you went to preschool. Because of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic though, preschools have had to adjust their ways considerably more than you probably realize.

 As adults, we can all think of ways that we have had to modify our lives to adapt to these uncertain times. But what about for the little ones? Developmentally, preschoolers are at the age where they cannot recognize the danger that this pandemic could bring them. Telling a three or four-year-old to socially distance in school is almost impossible, but yet necessary for the safety of others. As we have seen in our own schools, preschools around the country have also made some unprecedented changes to their system in order to follow the COVID-19 protocols. 

At APPLES Early Childhood Education Center here in Stamford, new adaptations and protocols have been put in place to ensure the safety of everyone.  These changes have proven to be difficult for both staff and students.  Brooke Pelli, the teacher for a program called School Readiness, explained “the biggest impact Covid-19 has on the pre-k setting is the lack of opportunity to share toys and practice essential turn-taking skills. Whole group games and activities are the norm now instead of small group instruction and children interact with individualized toy and sensory bins. Additionally, there has been more of a focus on social-emotional skills taught as children work to understand what is happening in the world around them.” 

In previous years, children were able to interact with one another and share toys and learning experiences. Now, every time a child plays with a toy, once they are done with it they have to place it in the “yuck buck” (a term created by teachers to help the students understand that these objects are dirty and have to be cleaned). The lack of group and sharing opportunities is worrisome, as these things play a crucial part in the social development of children. 

Another precaution that the school is taking is not allowing any parents or guardians into the building. This created a challenge at the beginning of the year because of the attachment some kids have with their parents. Having to leave them before even entering the school building was challenging, but still necessary to keep the building as safe as possible. The universal rule of social distancing and mask-wearing is tricky to enforce on these young children. At their age, it is challenging for them to sit still for long periods of time and keep the masks on. Overall though, the students have been understanding when it comes to these rules.

More importantly though, the APPLES center has a portion of students who are considered medically fragile.  The COVID-19 virus can be especially dangerous for them, which creates a new level of fear within the school. This is a pressing reason as to why it is so important for staff to implement these tough rules, even when it may be hard for the kids to understand and remember.

 Kendra Brown, Director of Early Childhood Education, explained “early childhood education has been transformed by COVID. Students are separated by partitions and told to wash their hands constantly. What hasn’t changed, though, is the ability of preschoolers to adapt to almost anything. Despite all the social distancing and disinfecting, they are resilient and they continue to wonder and learn about their world.” Even with all of these unprecedented changes and precautions in the world, these kids still manage to find the joy in learning even if it looks a little bit different than the past.