Voices from the Idaho EdNews Community

Tools for Parents Educating Young Children at Home

For my husband and me, working from home looks like this — our 2-year-old bursts in on a Zoom meeting to proudly display the sartorial splendor of her sticker collection — which she has liberally applied to her body. It’s wonderful to have our daughter home with us for moments of levity like this, but it also means that she’s missing out on the learning activities and curriculum she was provided earlier this year at her learning center. We loved her teachers, and the fruits of their labors were visible in our daughter’s development.

But there are worries that all parents with young children at home now share – early childhood education is just one item on the long list of things interrupted by the global pandemic. We’re not teachers, so how do we make sure our youngest learners are not being left behind while there here at home?

My education nonprofit, Bluum, understands that parents are struggling with this, which is why I’m excited to help introduce our curated list of resources for families with preschool to early elementary-aged children. We generated this information to help support families learning at home. We engaged the nationally-respected Public Impact, a team of educators and researchers to vet early years educational resources to ensure they are high-quality and easy for parents to use.

We compiled resources across three critical early years learning domains:

  • Literacy. These resources address five components of reading: 1) phonemic awareness, 2) phonics, 3) vocabulary, 4) fluency, and 5) reading comprehension.
  • Numeracy. These resources address early math skills such as recognizing numbers and counting; recognizing shapes, patterns, and spatial relationships; and developing an early understanding of mathematical concepts such as time, measurement, and probability.
  • Social-emotional learning. These resources focus on the development of self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making.

Idaho is one of only four states that doesn’t fund pre-K education, and we only fund half-day kindergarten despite the recognized importance of early learning for our children. But there have been positive recent steps. In late 2019, Governor Little’s “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” task force identified K-3 literacy as one of the top priorities. And earlier this year, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Family Foundation awarded Bluum $1.5 million to fund an all-day kindergarten pilot for 1000 children across 17 Idaho schools

These are important steps being taken by our state. By the end of third grade, students begin switching from “learning to read” to “reading to learn.” Literacy, numeracy and other concepts taught in early childhood education are critical for keeping students on track to meet important academic benchmarks and to be prepared to enjoy and succeed in school. Mastering these skills early will impact their short term-success, but also help ensure our children grow into functional adults who are ready to fully participate in our democracy and economy.

My Bluum colleagues and I encourage you to explore this list of curated resources and discover tools that can help your family and children during these tough times. These resources are available at no cost to help families address the building blocks of successful early learning. Some are self-directed by the student, because we know that some parents or caregivers are busy keeping the lights on and food on the table. And this particular resource to help with coaching reading even takes into account the reality that not all families have access to books at home.

As the weather turns colder and the prospect of neighborhood nature walks becomes harder, our family is looking for safe indoor learning activities. This is why the timing for this collection is so perfect. My family is looking forward to trying some of these tools to help our daughter exercise her curious mind — like these simple ways to introduce math daily. And this science-based approach to teaching reading is fascinating!

My husband and I are very grateful for these tools. They can help ensure that when our daughter is able to return to school, and your young kids are too, they’re where they need to be when it comes to reading readiness, doing math and engaging successfully with their classmates and teachers.


Kristen McCarver

Kristen McCarver

Kristen McCarver is the Communications Manager for Boise-based education nonprofit Bluum.

Get EdNews in your inbox

Weekly round up every Friday