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Saturday, January 23, 2021

From the play room to a Zoom room

Pre-pandemic, the Pierce College Child Development Center (CDC) was bustling each weekday with children engaged in play and learning while parents work toward completing their education. The campus has been closed all fall, but the children and their parents still can participate in group activities.

The CDC has partnered with the Pierce Nursing Department and are providing a variety of virtual sessions for students with children. 

CDC Director Melissa Brisbois said in a phone interview that the teachers at the center set up Zoom meetings every week with small groups of about three-to-six children. This depends on the parents and what the interests of the children are. 

“It’s just a little bit different than a regular elementary school, so we have flexibility,” Brisbois said. “A lot of the families have to juggle their own work schedule, their own class schedule, their children’s elementary school’s class schedule, and our Zoom. So, we try to be very flexible and give parents different options.”

Another service the center offers are large group meetings that involve everyone participating in the center’s services. The group meetings, which occur three times a week, feature stories, music and group movement activities. 

The center also has a private YouTube channel where parents and their children can view interactive videos.

Talia Penaloza, one of the parents using the CDC’s services, said in a Zoom interview that the online sessions have been helpful in restoring some normalcy for the families.

“I feel like this whole quarantine lifestyle has, at first, made it very hard to communicate with anybody,” Penaloza said. “I know especially the children had a hard time communicating, but the virtual Zoom meetings we’ve been doing have really helped set some normalcy. To meet and communicate with people really makes us feel less alone.”

Penaloza said that her daughter has been attending both the one-on-one sessions as well as the group sessions with the school. Penaloza also said that although she prefers her daughter be at school in-person and interacting with others under normal circumstances, safety is a priority.

“If there was no COVID and if it wasn’t deadly and hurtful, I recommend her to go to school because it’s not actual interaction and the kids can’t play with each other anymore,” Penaloza said. “I could tell that kind of took a toll on my daughter, but overall safety outweighs everything else.”

Kaitlyn Day, another parent from the CDC, also found the center’s services useful. 

Day said in a phone interview that she and her daughter have also been attending both the large group meetings and the smaller group meetings, much like Penaloza and her daughter.

“My daughter likes it and there is somewhat of the aspect of socialization with the teachers and the other kids, so it’s still normal,” Day said. “It’s less of the isolation.”

Day, who had been using the CDC’s services since 2017, said that she appreciated the center’s flexibility. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, she said that it’s been nice to have her daughter on a schedule that also worked out with her own class schedule.

“It’s been nice to have the support from the Child Development Center,” Day said. “They’ve always been wonderful on campus and online. They’re doing their absolute best, and the fact that my daughter is still able to continue on semi-normal in what we have going on right now is extremely helpful.”

For inquiries about the LAPC’s Child Development Center, parents can either email the center’s senior office assistant Jacqueline Pacheco through the center’s website at http://www.piercecollege.edu/offices/child_development_center/.

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