Supporting Relationships with Puppets, Books, and Self-Care
Shannon Banks is the Director of Community Education, ReadyKids Inc., in Charlottesville, Virginia. She describes how the organization’s playgroups have continued during the COVID-19 shutdown and maintained a focus on social and emotional needs.
Before COVID-19, our program provided in-person community-based playgroup programming. Our commitment to partnering with families has not changed. We are providing remote services that prioritize relationships and we are connecting with families using social media, sending weekly text messages to all, and reaching out to each family individually.
The Power of Puppets and Stories
We use our puppet, Roberta, to talk with the children about what’s going on and how we feel about it. Prior to COVID-19, Roberta visited playgroups to talk about emotions; now, she joins our virtual circle time sessions. Roberta has shared the things she is doing to keep herself and her friends safe (staying home, washing hands, wearing a mask), and has also talked about how hard it is to not be able to see her friends and go to school. Roberta even wears a small mask made by one of our educators.
Each virtual circle time includes a picture book read-aloud. Just like we did during our in-person playgroups, we include social emotional themed books to help support children and families to be able to talk about how they are feeling.
Several local doctors wrote a children’s book about the pandemic experience titled We’re Going to Be O.K. Thanks to a donor and another community organization, we’ve been able to give copies of this book to families.
Last but not least, we prioritize self-care and caring for each other. We take care of ourselves so we can take care of each other and successfully partner with families.
Shannon Banks is the Director of Community Education, ReadyKids Inc., in Charlottesville, Virginia.