Preschool teachers turning to online video reading, music lessons to connect with students

Coronavirus concerns have emptied churches, turned Times Square into deserted streets and canceled flights, putting the entire world at a standstill.

BOSTON — Coronavirus concerns have emptied churches, turned Times Square into deserted streets and canceled flights, putting the entire world at a standstill.

Schools have since closed and many have decided classes for the spring semester will not be resuming in person until the fall. College students have already returned home and many campuses are being used as additional hospital and shelter units.

But, what about those still learning the basics?

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Suddenly being out of school due to COVID-19 is particularly baffling for preschool students, especially since there’s no textbook on how to explain a pandemic to a 3-year-old.

Never has there been a better time for the lessons of Mr. Rogers, but one local preschool has been trying to keep going amid such chaos and uncertainty.

Even though she might not be physically closed to form a bond with her students, Norfolk Cooperative PRe-K teacher Molly Cohen enlisted the help of her sixth grade son to help her connect with her little ones.

While she had no experience making videos, Cohen knew her son Max definitely did, which is when the Molly and Max Production House was born. She reads, he shoots, edits and troubleshoots the videos - the dream team.

“During this time when we can’t be together I thought it might be fun to have a little story,” said Cohen. “I kind of jokingly said, ‘Okay, I’m going to make a video of myself reading a story and I’ll send it to Karen and she can put it on the website.'"

Cohen will do the reading and interacting while Max takes care of the production aspect of the videos.

“She’s like, ‘Who wants to help me make a video?’ and then I said, ‘I’ll do it,’ because I’m bored,” said Max.

Other teachers at Cohen’s school thought it was a great idea and decided to join in, including music teacher Dan Valerio.

“Music makes everybody happy and it just, it brings a warmth to you in troubled times like this,” said Valerio.

Parents were thrilled about the initiative, many who now have been at home with their kids and seen how much they miss school and their friends.

“The kids all miss their teachers and they miss their classmates and it’s just nice to be able to see such warm and friendly faces reading the stories that they love,” said one parent.

Max is proof that learning is a lifelong pursuit - in the classroom or out. This is his first foray into video editing, but it’ll hardly be his last.