To address pandemic learning loss in young children, many of the nation's school districts and childcare centers are planning to spend a portion of their ESSER or EANS funds on early childhood programming.
In fact, districts are slated to spend $2.7 billion on preschool and early childhood learning by 2024, according to Burbio data.
Investments in early learning programs increase students’ school readiness, and can include broadening access to educational technology, expanding kindergarten programs from half to full day, and hiring additional teachers.
But there are other practical ways educators can use their ESSER or EANS funds to support their littlest learners – and here are just a few:
Boost social-emotional learningSocial-emotional learning (SEL) equips early learners with the skills necessary to succeed in school and in life.
Studies show SEL not only significantly improves academic achievement but also increases prosocial behaviors, such as kindness, sharing and empathy. Plus, it reduces depression and stress among students.
That’s why it’s worth investing in classroom furniture and equipment that supports SEL. But what does that mean, exactly?
Think flexible and portable seating that gives students the power to move and learn in ways that work best for them. A variety of flexible seating aids in the development of self-management and self- awareness, two core skills of SEL.
Preschool Active Learning Stools, for example, let anxious or fidgety learners quietly rock and wiggle while they work. Classroom floor cushions are comfortable and easy for students to pick up and move at a moment's notice.
Collaborative preschool tables are another must-have in SEL-friendly spaces. With durable casters, easy -to-clean tops and a variety of synergetic shapes, these tables are designed to be easily pushed together or pulled apart for various activities.
Collaborative tables enhance classroom group work – and help support the development of heathy relationship skills like cooperation, listening and communication.
Expand access to adaptative furnishings
Many schools are using their ESSER or EANS funds to enhance or implement inclusive and ADA learning spaces.
Inclusive classrooms ensure that all students, regardless of ability, feel safe, welcome and ready to learn – and adaptive furnishings are a key element.
The best adaptive furniture allows students with special needs to work comfortably right alongside their peers, and can range from simple bouncy bands for chairs and desks (which allow students with ADHD to quietly bounce their feet) to classroom inclusion tables and desks.
Floor tables, for example, can be ideal for students with sensory sensitivities, while tilt-top tables blend seamlessly with standard tables and offer customized, accessible worksurfaces.
Certain classroom storage units offer more accessibility than others, too. Mobile shelving with removable bins allow students to easily pass and share supplies for various activities, while book displays are low to the ground and make books easy to see and grab.
When students feel comfortable in their classroom, they’re more likely to engage with others, and can even improve academically.
Update worn playground equipment
Using ESSER or EANS funds to upgrade or invest in new playground equipment – whether it’s activity panels or playhouses – is a great way to keep students active, healthy and engaged in outdoor learning.
The benefits of outdoor play are nearly endless, studies show: it advances gross motor skills, boosts immune function and mood, enhances creativity, supports the development of healthy peer relationships and more.
Take full advantage of these benefits by incorporating various types of play into your space, such as active play, creative play and sensory play.
Mud kitchens and water tables offer hours of sensory exploration, for example, while outdoor balance beams and stepping stones allow students to practice coordination skills in a safe and fun way.
Pro tip: consider implementing designated age areas or energy level sections to ensure each student has space for their level of play.
Not sure where to start? Give our experts a call at 1-800-260-2776 or email email@example.com. Our specialists are ready to help support your learning recovery initiatives with ESSER or EANS funding.