The Care for Newcomer Children program provides on-site childminding at the Global Gathering Place (GGP) while parent(s) attend English classes or other programs. When we shut our doors in response to COVID-19, GGP staff had to reimagine the Care for Newcomer Children (CNC) program in an online space. Now, staff and clients meet over Zoom three times a week, with two sessions in English and one in Arabic. Each week’s session has a theme, with games, vocabulary, songs, storytelling, short videos, and other activities reinforcing that theme.
A recent theme, for example, was body and movement and children learned body vocabulary and used these by singing “Head, Shoulders, Knees and Toes” and doing the Hokey Pokey, among other activities.
Angela Simko, who currently facilitates most of the sessions, says that by engaging and entertaining children for half-hour sessions, the CNC program is able to offer virtual support to families. The program gives parents a little time to step away and attend to other tasks, or simply have a moment to themselves. In addition to the structured sessions, GGP staff also created a Facebook group for CNC families. The private group is an online community where newcomer parents can get activity ideas, health information, and other resources.
Children are happy to interact with their friends from the CNC program that they have missed, Angela says. “The sessions offer a little normalcy. Hopefully, it will make for an easier transition when families come back to the centre.”