Teaching three and four year olds how to wear face masks is likely a new lesson in many preschool curriculums.
But at Pumpkin Patch preschool, 1940 Jackson St., teaching children ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19 sparked a new initiative called Healthy Start, fundraising chair Amanda Potratz told the Hub.
The project, which will run through the end of the 2021-22 school year, aims to equip kids with the skills to manage their health and wellness beyond preschool, Potratz said.
Beyond singing songs about handwashing and reading books about mask-wearing superheroes, as school director Natalie Richter described, the school wanted to show the children ways to manage their health during an unprecedented and unnerving health crisis.
The kids also garden to learn about nutrition, and practice yoga to maintain emotional balance, Potratz said.
As part of the initiative, the preschool additionally hopes to purchase new gym-equipment and make the playground wheelchair accessible, Potratz said. The initiative can also fund the purchase of cleaning supplies, personal protective equipment, an automated external defibrillator, as well as a snack fund with fruits and vegetables from a local farm.
Potratz described how, for Healthy Start, the school will partner with small local businesses for fundraising efforts, like having families sell coffee or chocolate. It is a way to simultaneously promote both Stoughton’s businesses and initiative.
“You know, bring some money back to the school to help build our community and try to think about fundraising in a holistic way,” Potratz said.
Like many businesses, Pumpkin Patch had a challenging financial year. Shortly after moving into a new building at the beginning of 2020, the uncertainty of schools coupled with costs of scarce cleaning supplies uprooted their excitement, Potratz said.
The early stages of Healthy Start were an effort to try to meet these costs, Potratz said. So far, donations from parents, as well as grants from organizations like the Department of Family and Children have helped the school afford supplies and pay staff, Richter said.
For the remainder of this school year Richter hopes to continue in-person learning, she said. So far, there has only been one case from a student, she said. But rather than just persevere through the year, she hopes Pumpkin Patch students will have positive takeaways to bring with them to elementary school and so on, she said.
“Hopefully, in the future, we can take some of our stuff we have learned with COVID and move forward and think positively,” Richter said.