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Pre-K Teacher Uses Virtual Dance Parties To Keep Kids Engaged

Fatherly logo Fatherly 12/31/2020 Devan McGuinness
a man looking at the camera © Provided by Fatherly

There is no question that this year has been one of the most challenging in memory. So much happened that anything from the early months feels like it was years ago. There have been several standout groups from the year that have made it a little easier on all of us. We’re thankful for the frontline workers who have been going non-stop, the people in our neighborhoods who always step up when someone’s in need. And we can’t forget the teachers who have shown amazing levels of creativity in keeping the kids engaged day in and day out.

There has been no shortage of teachers who have gone above and beyond. And one teacher opened up about keeping the youngest pre-kindergarten students engaged while teaching through a screen. Azel Prather, Jr., teacher and mentor at a D.C.-based school, has gone viral for the unique way he ensures the little ones are tuned in to remote learning.

“It’s a tough time for me, but I get my joy and my energy from being with the kids, and I know that they thrive off the same thing, so it’s about bringing that joy factor,” he told Yahoo Life.

Any parent can vouch that it’s hard to get the younger kids to sit still for any length of time. We can’t even encourage one 4-year-old to sit still long enough to eat a few chicken nuggets. So, the thought of attempting to keep several kids that age tuned in to what is being said over a computer screen is enough to frazzle us before we start. But Mr. Prather has a different perspective and a trick up his sleeve.

“I want them to learn, and they want to have fun, so let me meet them where they’re at,” he told the publication. And that’s what he does – meets the kids where they’re at, and he encourages movement, specifically dance parties, to keep kids tuned in to the day’s lesson.

“If you can kind of tell that one kid is dancing in his chair while we’re trying to learn, and another kid is dancing in his chair, too — we all just may need to dance, but then maybe we need to dance and learn a sight word at the same time instead. You just take a look at your kids, you see a need, and you meet it,” he explained.

This year has been hard for young kids, too. So much of those early days of school is about socialization and learning through play. For Mr. Prather, he recognizes the need for some of that to still take place in the virtual classroom, too.

“Everything’s always so structured, but sometimes we need to dance before we start or in the middle of something. We need the organized chaos, you know? The children are able to just simply be themselves,” he said.

It’s an amazing thing to give to kids as they try and navigate this new (and hopefully temporary) normal, and it’s a good lesson for parents to hear, too.

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