This week, I had my second Zoom session with my Book Worms kiddos. We read Bonaparte Falls Apart by Margery Cuyler and made Q-tip skeletons. I had fifteen kiddos and it was a wild ride from start to finish. We had multiple technical difficulties, one kid had a breakdown over the craft, and all of the children were talking constantly. It was great! I worked out the kinks in technology, we talked through the breakdown, and the chatter and noise of excited children was music to my ears.
I have found that some of the kids tend to feel more comfortable talking on Zoom, perhaps because they are at home on their own turf, so several kiddos that are normally quiet and reserved in person are suddenly talking to me and everyone else in the call. They want to show you their toys, their Halloween costumes, the progress they are making on their crafts. One child was pulling her multiple cats onscreen constantly and another was changing backgrounds every few seconds and teaching the other kids how to do it.
I muted the children during the story, but prompted them for nonverbal interaction at different points. We all unmuted during the craft portion of the program, which is when things got loud. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. At one point, one of the children said, “It’s almost like we’re actually doing it!” I didn’t think to ask them to elaborate on that statement at the time, but I think the sentiment was meant to convey that it was almost like we were at the library like normal, doing everything together. I can think of no higher compliment for an online program.
There will be hiccups with live programming always, but the kids will be so excited to see and talk to each other, they will hardly notice. They will find ways to occupy themselves while you are working on technical difficulties (for instance, “Here’s my cat!”). The unstructured time to talk to their peers and work on a project together is something they aren’t necessarily able to get from online or hybrid learning right now. The shy children will blossom and they will all enjoy a glimpse into each other’s homes and lives. And I feel certain that when we are able to meet in person again, they will appreciate each other more because they’ve weathered something together as a group.
To anyone who may be on the fence about doing Zoom or live programming with your library kiddos, I say go for it. It is chaos and it is magic and it will lift your spirits on the days when you feel like you’re not doing enough. And just in case there was any doubt, whatever you are doing, it is enough.
*A quick announcement: I will be taking a break from all blog posts indefinitely beginning this month, including book and programming posts. Between grad school and the pandemic, things are a lot right now. I am a little sad to let go of this, but I am also realizing that I can’t keep going at the rate I was before. This is only temporary while my library tries to figure out how to reopen and weather the storm before us. I will probably still post periodically on the Much Hamsters Instagram, so follow me over there for posts and announcements. Thanks for understanding!