On a beautiful fall morning on Tuesday, Oct. 19, North Shore Garden Center delivered their annual order of pumpkins to the lawn of Temple Beth Sholom’s Early Childhood Center in Roslyn Heights.
This year, the children in the preschool had extra help picking their pumpkins. For the first time ever, grown-ups were invited to come and pick pumpkins with their children in an event dubbed “Parents and Pumpkins.”
The weather was perfect for this outdoor event to bring together children and families who attend the Early Childhood Center.
“COVID-19 has changed the way that our school community interacts and intersects. All of our events this year have purposely been planned to take place outdoors to help everyone feel comfortable and safe, “ said Early Childhood Director Jen Schiffer.
Parents in the school are eager to make connections and to find alternative ways to gather with and without their children. The “Parents and Pumpkins” event organized by the school, and supported by the Parents Association, accomplished just that. Parents were invited at different times throughout the school day to pick a pumpkin, do a craft and to have a keepsake picture taken with their child.
Understanding that not all parents have flexible schedules, the event was not limited to parents only. The invitation included “special others.”
One little girl remarked, “My daddy is a grown-up, and he’s special…Isn’t that AMAZING!” The children were so excited to share their friends and teachers with their grown-ups. Older siblings, grandparents, even aunts and uncles came out to participate.
The energy in the air was one of gratitude and freedom. The pandemic has limited the number of in-person gatherings the school has had over the past eighteen months. “Parents and Pumpkins” was a reminder that there are creative ways to invite parents back to school on a more regular basis.
Since the beginning of the school year, all events for Early Childhood Center families have been held outdoors, and parents have come out in record numbers. From an evening celebration on Sukkot held in the Temple Beth Sholom sukkah, to meetups in the park, parents are happy to dress for any weather just for the opportunity to be together.
By popular demand, Temple Beth Sholom just added additional dates into December to its outdoor music class schedule for infants and toddlers. An outdoor candle lighting ceremony and celebration is planned for Hanukkah where families will gather in the temple parking lot for an evening concert. “We watch the weather closely these days, and hope for the best. We’ve been lucky so far. I hope we have more days like today because today was magical,” said Schiffer.