Fall 2020

FALL 2020

Taking Part in Virtual Primary Project Sessions

Boys Town, a non-profit agency working in collaboration with the School District of Palm Beach County, provides leadership and coordination efforts for Primary Project. Last spring when schools closed, the program coordinator at Boys Town, Charlotte Ussery, mobilized her team of child associates and supported their efforts in continuing to provide support to students for the remainder of the year. Read below from a parent of a first-grader on her experiences with those visits.   

  1. In the shift last school year from school to home/remote learning, what did you see as a benefit (to your child) of still having your child connect with their child associate virtually?
    It is very difficult in a group setting to truly focus on the social/emotional component of a child's education. She thrives on the 1-on-1 attention and this program delivers on that in a big way.
  2. What did you see as a benefit to virtual sessions from your perspective as a parent?
    The virtual sessions seemed to "center" my daughter. So much time is spent in front of the computer or working with programs that focus on academics and these virtual sessions provided the much-needed balance that focused on the social/emotional well-being of my child. Her attitude regarding virtual education seemed to improve after the sessions and she very much looked forward to those meetings.
  3. From your perspective on the home front – what did you find important to have in place/prepare for on your end to be ready for the session?
    We provided a comfortable place for our daughter to engage in the virtual session. She particularly liked doing the meetings in our "playroom" where she could show off her toys and some things that are important to her.
  4. What are your thoughts on what it meant for your child to still be able to connect with her child associate?
    I do believe it provided my daughter with a sense of connection and an implicit acknowledgment that real people cared about her. The benefits of the 1-on-1 nature of the meetings simply cannot be overstated.
  5. As we embark on a new school year with districts beginning remote or a mix of in-person and remote, do you have any additional insight/words of wisdom that would be helpful to other parents about taking part in virtual Primary Project sessions?
    Primary Project is a critical component of a well-rounded education of children, especially children that do not seem to thrive in a group setting. Something magical happens when they get the individualized attention they desperately crave. It is an amazing program with lots of benefits.

–Ann Marie E. and daughter, Lillian (1st Grade), Jupiter Elementary, School District of Palm Beach County

Playroom Adaptations from Primary Project Teams

In this unique and different year, Primary Project teams have shared some creative ways of delivering Primary Project while still aligning to program guidelines and taking into consideration the health and safety of students. Highlighted in this section are some playroom adaptations for toys as well as physical distancing.  

If your team has ideas that you’d like to submit to be included on our Facebook page or the January edition of From the Playroom, please email a brief summary along with pictures to Lynn Smith.

Individualized play bins:


Each bin contains: Markers, crayons, a pencil, scissors, a glue stick, a bag of play food, bag of blocks, bag of Legos, kinetic sand, playdough, molds and cookie cutters, a bag of craft supplies, and a 12" wooden dowel.

–Jessica Trudeau, Child Associate and Amanda Bechtold, School Social Worker, Ticonderoga Elementary, Ticonderoga, NY

Our playroom will include "surprise bins" which the student will choose from. Each "surprise bin" will contain a unique selection of expressive play objects for which the student can choose to play with. A student can choose the same bin, or a different bin, each time they come to the playroom and each bin, once used, will be sanitized at the end of the day. Our playroom will also include a few standard "stations" to choose from, such as “the Kitchen, the Dollhouse, or the Art Easel." We are looking forward to serving our K-2 students this school year!

–Margo Nelson, Child Associate and Marissa Townsend, School Social Worker, Stuart M. Townsend Elementary, Lake Luzerne, NY

Physical distancing ideas in the playroom:

The mat (pictured) is exactly 6'x12' and we use the middle yellow line as our safety line, ensuring each of us can maintain a social distancing/clean area to play.

–Lynsey Whiting, Child Associate and Ann Moellman, School Social Worker, Lake George Elementary, Lake George, NY

The table (pictured) is 6’ long with chairs placed at either end for the child associate and student.

–Jessica Trudeau, Child Associate and Amanda Bechtold, School Social Worker, Ticonderoga Elementary, Ticonderoga, NY

Announcing 2020-2021 Program Guidelines

In response to COVID-19, we are pleased to share Guidelines for Program Implementation for the upcoming 2020-2021 school year. A flyer highlighting the importance of Primary Project given the current circumstances is also available. This may help advocate for continuing the program even during these uncertain times.

We Want to Hear from You!

Schools will be operating under a unique set of circumstances in their commitment to educate and support students while simultaneously making adaptations to allow for the safest way to continue this work in a variety of settings. 

As developers of Primary Project, Children’s Institute has a responsibility to understand how Primary Project operates as a valuable support in helping students adjust to various learning environments. We are committed to exploring how this intervention may look, particularly in such a strange year given the circumstances.

We ask you to share some information about your program for this academic year. Soon we will send you an e-mail that will include a link to a brief survey to help us better understand how your program will be functioning during this unprecedented time.

Stay tuned…

A blend of two of our most popular resources, the Primary Project Program Development Manual and Creating Connections video, provides programs with what they need to support Primary Project implementation in their school/district. The manual outlines the core components along with useful resources that can be used in programs. The video is a tool that can be shared with staff, administrators, and parents around what Primary Project is about, who the program serves, and how it is implemented in schools.

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