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March 27, 2020

Ensuring pre-kindergarten students stay safe, active and engaged at home keeps both teachers and parents busy.

Pre-kindergarten teacher Rachel Fruchey says her first job as an educator is to ensure her students are safe.

Virtual learning for pre-kindergarten students looks much different than it does for the later grades in lower school, middle school and high school. For Rachel Fruchey, whose Pre-K 3 students are among the very youngest at Notre Dame, it's a process that relies on a healthy dose of creativity as well as the assistance of parents when and where possible.

"My students thrive in an environment filled with play, imagination and fun," she said. "That can be difficult on my end to recreate in a virtual setting. But I've given parents a list of activities to incorporate into their child’s day."

Fruchey also requested that parents send her photos or videos of their children as they perform or complete the activities on the list.

"Things I've planned include helping with chores, taking a walk, playing a board game, counting the number of chairs in their house, watching videos on PowerSchool Learning, among many others," she said. "I had to get creative in the activities I chose so they are both playful and meaningful."

She acknowledges that a typical day of virtual learning for a Pre-K 3 student is going to be different in every home, and that’s okay as she's trying to give parents the flexibility to work on the activities at their own pace. 

Teacher assistant Carolyn McClosky and Fruchey, upper left, conducted an online activity with Pre-K 3 students this week.

"Parents are themselves dealing with a lot to begin with and I don’t want this virtual-learning experience to be overwhelming for them either," Fruchey added. "I’m near my computer most of the day and I’ve told the parents that if they need help with anything, I am here to help. I’ve also sent out a few tutorial videos to help parents navigate their student’s iPad. As the week goes by, I plan to slowly incorporate more interactions between my students and me."

As she looks toward week three and likely many more days of distance learning for her students, Fruchey nonetheless is glad that the school buildings at NDPMA and in the rest of the state are closed.

"Our first job as educators is to make sure our students are safe," she said. "Closing NDPMA I feel was the best way for us to accomplish that. For my little learners, it can be really difficult for them to remember to cover their coughs or sneeze into their elbows. It’s a skill they're still practicing every day."

She said closing the school is protecting her students and every other student at Notre Dame. 

"Yes, it hurts my heart that I won’t get to see their little faces in my classroom every day, but their safety and well-being are much more important."

Comments or questions?

Follow Notre Dame on Twitter at @NDPMA.

About Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy
Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy is a private, Catholic, independent, coeducational day school located in Oakland County. Notre Dame Preparatory School enrolls students in grades nine through twelve and has been named one of the nation's best 50 Catholic high schools (Acton Institute) four times since 2005. Notre Dame's middle and lower schools enroll students in pre-kindergarten through grade eight. All three school are International Baccalaureate "World Schools." NDPMA is conducted by the Marist Fathers and Brothers and is accredited by the Independent Schools Association of the Central States and the North Central Association Commission on Accreditation and School Improvement. For more on Notre Dame Preparatory School and Marist Academy, visit the school’s home page at

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