Central Kentucky Community Foundation’s annual summer early childhood education program, Get Ready!, had to make changes because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Davette Swiney, president and CEO of the foundation, said the camp began because early childhood education is important not only for the students but for everyone.
“We know all children in our community need quality early childhood experience and we wanted to help,” Swiney said.
A nearly all-virtual camp setting is being offered to children. Usually, the camp is in-person and contains families, students, teachers and group activities.
Keara Priddy and Jenna Fulkerson are teachers in front of the camera creating videos, delivering lesson plans and interacting with students and parents.
Priddy, who has been involved with Get Ready! for five years, said it has been great seeing students develop with her involvement in the camp.
“You see a lot of growth in those kids,” she said.
The camp works on a different activity each day that coincides with the week’s theme.
On Fridays, families come to pick up supply bags which contain the necessary items for the next week’s activities. This means lesson plans have to be planned a week and a half out.
For example, the week of June 15 had the theme of Dr. Seuss.
Both said they’ve had to adjust lesson plans to the virtual set-up since they can no longer show students in-person how to do a certain activity.
Priddy said they really had to adjust how they filmed the videos and make sure they “clarified each little step.”
The day’s video is premiered at 10 a.m. every week day and lasts for about an hour on Facebook. While the video is playing, Priddy and Fulkerson will respond to questions and comment.
“That way we can actually sit and, like, watch the comments and if somebody is having an issue,” Fulkerson said. “Then we can try to fix it.”
Priddy and Fulkerson also have a Google Meet every Wednesday where students have the opportunity to view and share each other’s activities.
While being cognizant of screen time, Swiney said there has been some benefits and positives from it being virtual. For example, families are able to watch the activity videos even if they wouldn’t be able to make it to the in-person camp. Families also can control the pace of the activities however they’d like.
“This way they’re still able to plug in and have some of that experience,” Swiney said.
Swiney also said the videos have been able to reach more people.
While previous years have not required registration, families had to register this year to secure supply bags. Swiney said they’ve had registration numbers anywhere between 250 to 360.
Priddy, Fulkerson and Swiney said they have received positive feedback from parents regarding the changed camp set-up.
“We had no idea how people would react,” Swiney said.
Desiree Denham’s son, Daylen, is now in his second year of camp.
She said she enjoys being able to stop and start the activities with her son and because there’s virtually no prep for the parents with the activity bags and lesson plans.
“They’ve done a wonderful job,” Denham said. “I think it’s going as smoothly as it could given the situation that we’re in.”
While registration ended Wednesday for the camp’s final week of activities, those who are interested can call the foundation at 270-373-8393 to see if there happen to be any available activity bags.