SO YOUR CHILD IS ENTERING KINDERGARTEN DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC...
Words you never thought you'd have to say, right? This is supposed to be a monumental moment for parents and children but the current situation has disrupted many plans to host in-person Kindergarten orientations before summer and various end-of-year school events that new families often attend. To ease the stress of this situation and restore some of the joy that new Kindergarten families should be experiencing right now, we are taking a special interest in supporting and connecting families whose children will be entering Kindergarten this September 2020 at a school in the VSB (SD39) district. After all, you are now a part of our school community too!
ZOOM INTO KINDERGARTEN
A Virtual Community Connection Initiative
Vancouver Virtual Families has successfully hosted dozens of 'Zoom Into Kindergarten' virtual meetings for families whose children are starting Kindergarten at a VSB school in September 2020. This was not a replacement for the Welcome to Kindergarten events, nor was it an official orientation. Our main goal was connecting parents/guardians and their soon-to-be Kindergartener's with others who will be attending the same school in the Fall. We introduced families 'face-to-face' (virtually) with the hope that each group would carry on connecting over the summer months. After connecting a total of 289 Kindergarten families from across Vancouver, this program has now concluded. Thank you to our amazing parent volunteers who helped make this program so successful!
The 'Zoom Into Kindergarten' Experience
I am beyond grateful for this opportunity to connect with families and that's all thanks to the hard work of you guys at Vancouver Virtual Families. Thanks to your innovation, we were able to ease our fears and tension about our babies' foray into Kindergarten. Ashley and Amira--you guys rock!
- New Kindergarten Mom (Anonymous)
Important updates regarding our Kindergarten Connections 2020 Program
MAY 1ST, 2020
Thank you SO much for the overwhelming interest in this program and our website. We had no idea this was going to reach so far, so fast and we know you are antsy for information. We just sent out our first newsletter and will continue to send copies out to those who sign up late. A newsletter will go out on the 1st and 15th of each month. There will be an activity for the kids in each issue that we encourage everyone to participate in and we will have more information available in the coming weeks. We are now working with some VSB staff to help make this program even better and we will let you know what our future plans are very soon!
MAY 8TH, 2020
Thank you for your continued patience as we process the numerous applications we have had over the past week. If you have already registered, you should have received our May 1st newsletter as well as a link to a secure survey to provide us with some basic information. If you did not receive either of these, please check your spam/junk folder and then send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We are working extremely hard with VSB staff to launch a Zoom orientation pilot project at one of our Vancouver elementary school's while we wait for the remainder of our families to submit their information. We know some families may not be aware of this initiative yet and we want to make sure - even if only one family from a particular school has signed up with us - all families from that school are then made aware of this opportunity. As we move forward, we hope that schools will welcome this idea and work with us to facilitate these connections. However, if we are informed that a school has undertaken their own initiative to connect families with each other (and not just with the educators), then we will inform our families to wait for further direction from their school. Our job is to create connections where they are not being created yet and not to step on the toes of those who are already doing so. A welcome video from Vancouver Virtual Families and some of our amazing VSB staff is also in the works for all of our families, though this won't be available for at least a few weeks. Stay tuned - and don't forget to submit your child's self portrait before May 14th at 7 PM!
MAY 14th, 2020
We are processing some last minute applications to our Kindergarten Connections 2020 Program. We are plaesed to announce that we have families from 30 of 89 VSB elementary schools registered in our programs. We will be reaching out to these schools first to relay this information to other new Kindergarten families at these schools. This way, even if there are only a few families signed up from a school at this point, we can hopefully add some more families to that list. Important: discussions with some administrators are underway about communicating this program to the remaining VSB elementary schools. While we are currently focused on launching the meetings at the 30 schools already represented amongst our families, we are happy to let other schools run with the same idea. Our hope is to be able to provide a standardized set of 'instructions' on how we are running our program and, if schools wish, they may adopt the 'Zoom Into Kindergarten' model with their families as well. Please stay tuned for more information!
MAY 29TH, 2020
Thank you to the families who have signed up with us! We know we've had some late registrations come in recently and we have not been able to get to these yet, but you should receive an email from us shortly. We have been extremely busy working on these plans and have now sent out virtual meeting registration links to the 37 schools that made our final list. You should be receiving more information from your school principal if your school chooses to support us in offering this initiative to families. Unfortunately, at this time, we are not able to accommodate new registrations from any other schools. However, we encourage you to reach out to your school and ask if they can connect you with any other families! A more detailed update will be sent out on May 31st for the families currently registered for Kindergarten Connections. If you signed up for our mailing list before May 15th and have not yet received anything, please check your spam/junk folder - we have attempted to communicate with everyone but did not receive replies back from about a dozen individuals. Thank you!
JUNE 6TH, 2020:
Thank you to the families who participated in our FIRST Zoom Into Kindergarten meeting! There were way more people than we expected and despite the introductions lasting about 45 minutes, your kids did amazing! We know that it can be hard to stay seated at a computer and that these interactions are not the same as being somewhere in person, but we're all trying to find new ways to connect and it went very well!
JUNE 7TH, 2020:
Hello families! We wanted to quickly let you know that we are working as fast as we can to get your meetings set up. However, we are still busy parents with full-time work and/or school responsibilities. This week we are working to set up nine 'Zoom Into Kindergarten' meetings, so if you haven't heard from us by Friday it just means you are not in the first wave. We WILL get to you - and we are working on bringing in other parent facilitators so we can get through this faster. Thank you SO much for your patience.
JUNE 14TH, 2020:
Thank you to the children and parents/guardians who participated in our first Zoom Into Kindergarten meetings! In our first week alone, we connected OVER 150 FAMILIES at six different schools. We are now moving on to the next schools on our list and have added four more parent facilitators to our team, so we are hoping to get through the remaining schools between now and the first week of July. We are still trying to connect with some schools who have not responded to our emails. If we continue to be unsuccessful, we will simply connect you with whoever we currently have on your school's list. We are also actively searching for families in social media groups and through that, we have added an additional 23 families just in the past week. If you have not heard from us yet, it just means we are still trying to find more families from your school so we can connect you with as many individuals as possible! We have not forgotten you!
JUNE 22ND, 2020:
Hello Families! We have made one final attempt to contact the administrators of the remaining schools. We will send out an update to all registered participants by July 2nd regarding the status of your Zoom Into Kindergarten meeting. We will be working into the first few weeks of July to ensure that we connect everyone that we can but at this time, we do still have schools with only one registered family. We are trying our best to increase this number but without the support of the school, we cannot yet guarantee that we will be able to offer this program. Thank you for your patience!
JULY 12TH, 2020:
Since our third and final attempt to reach out to families through their school principals was unsuccessful, we have been working hard to seek out families in unique ways. For the past two weeks we have been focusing our efforts on hosting the remaining meetings for schools that have 5+ families registered. We are also actively posting on social media to see if we can up these numbers. We have been able to find at least 2-3 families for all but 4 of of our remaining schools. We ask for your continued patience as we set up the meetings for McBride (Main), Nootka Fine Arts, L'Ecole Bilingue, Lord Nelson and Mount Pleasant this week.
JULY 19TH, 2020:
Hello Families! We are slightly behind this week (full disclosure: I've got a chemistry exam tomorrow so I have had to put a few things on standby!). The meetings for Mount Pleasant and Nootka Fine Arts have been scheduled. The Doodle for McBride will go out tonight and the Doodle for Lord Nelson, L'Ecole Bilingue and Lord Selkirk will be coming this week. For all families who have not yet been connected, we will send you an update this week. There are only three schools for which we still only have one family registered. Unfortunately it looks like we may not be able to offer this program at Graham Bruce Elementary, Lord Roberts/Lord Roberts Annex, and Kerrisdale Elementary. The remaining schools will receive an email soon as we have between 2-4 families registered at each of them and we are happy to connect you with each other. This may not involve a formal Zoom Into Kindergarten meeting but we are going to figure out the best way to connect smaller groups and get back to you. Thank you to everyone who has been so patient through all of this! We know some families have already been connected for quite some time and some may only be connected several weeks before school begins, but know that this is because we were working hard to find more families to connect you with. In the beginning of July we had 21 schools for which only one family was registered...we have gotten that list down to only three!
AUGUST 18TH, 2020:
Thank you SO much to everyone who participated in Zoom Into Kindergarten - this program has now concluded. We were able to connect a total of 289 Kindergarten families from 35 of the 38 schools we had interest from! We were only unsuccessful with the last few schools due to a lack of response from the families who had initially signed up - if you think you missed an email from us and still wish to connect with your group of families, please feel free to contact us again!
I know the idea of sending kids back to school right now is likely an anxiety provoking thought for many families - especially for those who are just entering the school system. We encourage you to be supportive of one another, regardless of whether you are sending your child to school or keeping them home, as you transition into the Kindergarten year together (or apart). As Dr. Henry always says - be kind, be calm, and be safe. It was a pleasure getting to know so many of you over the past four months!
- Ashley Hansen (Vancouver Virtual Families, Founder)
NUMBER OF FAMILIES CONNECTED:
HAVE YOU ALREADY PARTICIPATED IN A 'ZOOM INTO KINDERGARTEN' MEETING?
We would really love to hear what families thought about our initiative! This will be published on our website (name and email are optional).