DEAR FRIENDS OF THE PLAYING FIELD,
It has been some time since our last newsletter. Due to COVID-19 and the Safer at Home Order, we closed our program on March 16th. We reopened on Monday, June 29th.
During our time away, our school family stayed connected in many ways. Our staff delivered food, diapers and educational materials to families across the city. Many of our children and families enjoyed weekly Zoom calls.
We also took advantage of the time to offer professional development for our teachers. They completed the Conscious Discipline eCourse and reflected on the material in small groups.
While our time away was productive, we were eager to return to the program. Our operations look very different but, our commitment to providing high quality early education has not changed.
Now, more than ever, your interest and support are greatly appreciated!
Wishing You Well,
A DIFFERENT KIND OF GOODBYE
Before we reopened our program, we wanted the chance to say goodbye to those members of our School Family who would not be returning.
The babies who started with us when we opened nearly five years ago, were to be our graduating class of 2020. They had moved with their teacher, Sara Aspenson from the infant room to the two year old room and then, to the preschool room. This continuity of care is an important part of our model. We know that early attachments build strong brains.
Since we didn’t get to have our planned graduation ceremony, we hosted a reverse parade. Staff lined our parking lot with signs, gifts and treats. Families drove by to say their socially distanced goodbyes and we wished each of them well.
We are grateful we had the opportunity to say goodbye. We know our 2020 graduates are going to be amazing kindergarteners!
We also want to send our thoughts to families who have faced tough choices over the last few months. Even if your child is not returning to The Playing Field, you will always be part of our School Family!
REOPENING WITH A NEW LOOK
Things look very different at The Playing Field. We have made some big changes to keep everyone as safe and healthy as possible.
One of those changes is that we have created outdoor classrooms for each age group. We encouraged our staff to create outdoor learning environments and they did an amazing job! Each classroom has a designated, outdoor area so, groups are not sharing space. Being outside offers benefits to both physical and mental health. In addition, Denmark moved classrooms outside and found it to be effective in reducing the spread of the virus.
Another change is that we have mixed age groups to keep siblings in the same classroom. This will reduce the number of people children come into contact with during their time with us. There are actually educational benefits to mixed age grouping. The younger children learn from the older ones and the big kids strengthen their skills by teaching them to little ones. Children also learn empathy as they interact with younger children.
We are proud of the way our staff has adapted during the shut-down and again as we have reopened. They have kept the best interest of children at the heart during some very challenging times.
While these changes are necessary, they will also make it increasingly difficult for us to manage costs. In short, we will need more staff and see reduced tuition income. We are seeking new sources of revenue so, please let us know if you are aware of potential grants or donors.
Your support in the coming months will be both needed and appreciated!
Many of our friends know we were presented with a unique opportunity to partner with The Road Home and Plumber’s Union 75. Our organizations will be working together to offer child care, housing, and job training in a coordinated effort.
Our original plan was to open a 15,000 square foot child care center in the same building where the union will be offering training in the skilled trades. Our capital campaign to fund this building project is currently on hold but, we are moving forward to serve families at risk of homelessness.
The Road Home is opening a housing community in east Madison and we will be providing child care for their families. With financial support from United Way Dane County and the City of Madison, we will open a temporary site for twenty children.
To prepare the temporary site for children, will be laying new flooring, painting, adding a small kitchen and updating the outdoor play space.
We are looking for volunteers to help with these projects. Keeping these costs down will allow us to focus our fundraising efforts on the new location and serving a greater number of families.
We will keep you updated on our progress!
Family Emergency Fund
During this time, our top priority is to be sure our families have their basic needs met. If you would like to assist, the most helpful gift would be a contribution to our Family Emergency Fund. Donations to this fund are reserved for families and they are separate from our operating expenses. We will continue to assure our families have needed supplies and assist with other bills.