Virtual Support Labs Help Families Face Challenges

Monday, February 8th, 2021

While it might look like business as usual at some childcare and pre-school facilities, a lot has changed. Including the introduction of virtual support labs at Building Blocks. Operating a childcare center in the age of coronavirus is challenging to say the least. Zubeen Saeed, President & CEO of Building Blocks Learning Center understands that it’s challenging for families as well. “In this time of rising COVID-19 numbers, working parents are seeking safe and dependable childcare they can count on for their changing needs,” Saeed said. “We want them to know we’re here for them, with flexible solutions to fit their requirements.”

“For those working outside the home, as well as those facing the pressures of transitioning to working at home while trying to help children with schoolwork, weekdays can be extremely stressful. That’s why it’s imperative that we remain safely open to provide childcare and educational services for our community,” Saeed added. “It also enables us to give children and families a sense of normalcy by enabling them to participate in their daily routines in a safe manner.”

VSL enhances childcare & early learning programs

In addition to childcare and pre-school programs, Building Blocks also provides after-school care at several area schools in the Wilkes-Barre Area and Dallas School District. They’ve also partnered with West Side CTC for a Pre-k program and Lake Lehman School District for Building Blocks at Lake Lehman Early Learning.  Their newest program designed to assist families during these challenging times is VSL (Virtual Support Labs). VSL is focused on assisting students in their virtual school learning. The goal of VSL is to keep students connected to school while having to be away from the classroom.

Remote or distance learning has been overwhelming for student, parents and educators alike. It has also been difficult for schools to differentiate and support students with diverse learning needs and provide the individual support they need. Because COVID-19 has presented so many challenges related to how children are schooled, the team at Building Blocks felt that many children may not be receiving the help they need to succeed. VSL was their solution to address this important need.

VSL keep children connected to classroom

Versatile VSL spaces have been specially designed with stringent health and safety guidelines in mind. A comfortable atmosphere conducive to learning was also important. Building Blocks currently offers virtual support labs in their Wilkes-Barre, Mountain Top, and Dallas locations.  Introduced about six months ago, the VSL program has been well-received by parents looking for a more effective learning environment for their children. 

Students in each of the labs are supervised by an onsite virtual support facilitator who keeps students on their individual school schedule and provides assistance with school work as needed. The facilitators ensure students are logged on for classes on time and that they stay focused during classes. They also supervise classwork as it is being completed, as well as independent work, providing assistance where needed. Students enrolled in the different VSL locations are from various area school districts and are on many different schedules. Some with a virtual learning schedule and others with non-virtual classwork. The Building Blocks staff ensures each student is on track and receiving the individual assistance they need. This has been a big stress relief for many parents who have been juggling both work and in-home educating duties.

Assisting students with virtual learning

VSL was the brainchild of Building Blocks Learning Center’s Chief Administrative Officer, Lake Gemzik. “We always strive to provide the services and solutions our community needs, and we saw a real need in assistance with virtual learning,” Gemzik said. “Feedback from parents regarding the virtual support labs, has been very positive. Working parents have found this to be a big relief during this stressful time. Knowing their child has somewhere to go that is age appropriate and dedicated to learning with one on one attention takes the stress off of parents who are already being stretched in so many directions. They even receive a progress report when they pick up their child as to the school work completed and any left to be done.”

Safety top priority at Building Blocks

Safety remains top of mind at Building Blocks Learning Center. If plans are not implemented and steps in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in a childcare setting, the results could be disastrous. The Building Blocks team feels confident they are proactively taking all of the steps necessary to protect the children and staff. They have created an environment that minimizes the risk of the virus in their classrooms and childcare spaces. Saeed and her team believe their active response plan, designed with guidance from the CDC, PA Department of Health, and DHS Licensing Agency, along with cooperation from parents, has enabled them to curtail health risks and any long term closures from occurring.

The plan includes a strict mask policy for children over 2 years of age and staff, a “What if” scenario for parents. There are also strict guidelines regarding dropping off and picking up children including temperature checks and a drop-off and pick-up station, frequent hand washing, a stringent disinfection policy, and special shoes that remain on-site. Reduced classroom sizes and restricted age groupings have also been implemented. Building Blocks also requires health screenings for children and staff returning from vacation, as well as those who have been in a large group setting, or those in contact with anyone diagnosed with COVID-19. 

Communication is key

The staff communicates regularly with parents through memos, letters, and emails. They keep parents updated on safety policies and procedures and reinforce the importance of following policy in keeping the facility safe and open. They also provide parents with helpful tips on helping children adapt to mask-wearing and adjust to repeated hand washing. Even with the added precautions, many parents are still grappling with the decision of whether or not to return their children to daycare/preschool.

According to Gemzik, enrollment is down approximately 40% because of the pandemic. “We’ve adapted and adjusted our programs to be as safe as possible, while still providing children with a positive experience to learn and grow,” Gemzik said. This includes incorporating fun and festive activities within the center, such as a Roaring 20’s day and other enrichment days that enable children to still enjoy a more creative learning experience with mask and social distancing guidelines in place every day.

Quality childcare & childhood education you can count on

As a parent looking for childcare or pre-school placement, Building Blocks encourages you to evaluate different facilities to ensure they have the staffing and plan in place to implement all of the necessary safety and disinfecting precautions, while still providing your child with a quality care and learning experience. Don’t hesitate to speak to your pediatrician about your childcare concerns.

“Parents should be able to feel completely comfortable that they have placed their child in a safe environment,” said Saeed.  “A strong focus on risk mitigation will enable Building Blocks Learning Center and other childcare and daycare facilities to earn the confidence of parents looking to find safe childcare options.”

For parents interested in help with virtual learning, the Building Blocks Learning Center VSL Program is open to all school-aged children. VSLs are located in the Building Blocks Learning Centers in the Twin Stacks Center in Dallas, in Wilkes-Barre on Route 315 across from the Woodlands and on South Mountain Blvd. in Mountain Top. To learn more about VSLs, visit or call 570-793-1725.

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Summer Camp & Kindergarten Readiness Programs announced at Building Blocks

Monday, May 6th, 2019

What do you have planned for your kids this summer? A great summer of adventure awaits your children at Building Blocks learning Center. So much more than a daycare center, Building Blocks Learning Center has four distinct summer programs to fit your unique needs. Our summer camp offers a structured, social environment for children to learn, grow and develop their independence. It will enable them to develop necessary skills, build lasting friendships and gain the confidence they need to thrive in the years ahead. Summer preschool will enable your child to have a fun-filled summer while they maintain the stability and consistency of a classroom environment. Our Kindergarten readiness program and Kindergarten bootcamp will prepare them for that all-important transition to Kindergarten.

At Building Blocks, we realize the importance of keeping young minds active and continuing to develop throughout the summer months. Young children, especially those moving on to kindergarten in the fall, need to maintain a routine and reinforce and build on the skills they have learned. Whether you’re looking for a summer childcare option, a children’s summer camp, or a summer kindergarten readiness program, Building Blocks Learning Center has specially designed programs to fit your needs. These programs will engage your child in fun and interactive learning activities as well as introduce them to new and exciting experiences this summer.

Building Blocks Learning Center Summer Programs

All children’s summer programs run June 25 to August 16, 2019

  • Camp Leo Summer Camp for Kids – Calling all kids ages 6 to 12. You won’t want to miss this fun-filled summer camp. Our structured children’s summer camp offers exciting weekly themes and events, team sports and clubs. Before and after care is included in Camp Leo Summer Camp. Breakfast, lunch and a snack are also provided. Children ages 6 to 12 years of age are welcome to attend Building Blocks’ summer camp. It’s a perfect opportunity to introduce your child to a whole new group of friends and help them to build their self-esteem. We remember our fun days at summer camp, do you?
  • Pre School Summer Program – Ideal for 3 and 4-year-old children, our summer preschool program will help your child explore new interests and learn about structure as they follow a daily schedule. This age-appropriate program will inspire your child to interact with other children as they learn, help them to enhance their social skills, explore their creativity and develop emotionally. They will have fun with their peers while they learn important skills such as teamwork and cooperation. Best of all, they will develop their own sense of independence.
  • Prekindergarten Summer Boot Camp – Specially designed to better prepare children ages 3 ½ to 4 ½ for their transition into Prekindergarten. Pre-K summer bootcamp will keep children engaged with weekly themes focused on various skills and other areas of interest. Themes include reading, math, science, leadership, cultural awareness, cooperation, problem solving and health and wellness. Our interactive approach to summer learning will include subjects such as nature exploration, money concepts, computation, reading comprehension, environmental health, diversity, nutrition, physical exercise, creative thinking, conflict resolution, creative thinking and much more. Learning has never been so much fun!
  • SPARKS! Kindergarten Readiness Boot Camp – The staff at Building Blocks Learning Center will help prepare your child for that important transition to kindergarten. Each week, SPARKS! Students will be studying a carefully selected book and using the concepts of literacy and reading comprehension. Our SPARKS! Summer Kindergarten Readiness program will help your child further develop the following skills in preparation for kindergarten: self-help skills, social-emotional skills, visual skills, verbal skills, language development, listening skills, work habits, gross motor skills and fine motor skills. A selection of enchanting books will keep them engrossed throughout this 8-week summer program. Start the SPARK! In your child this summer!

Introduce your child to the emotional, social and educational benefits of the summer camp, summer preschool program or a kindergarten readiness program at Building Blocks Learning Center. It’s our goal to help them develop life-long skills, gain confidence and make great friends.

All programs run for 8 weeks, from June 25th through August 16th. Enroll your child in our summer camp or one of our summer learning and readiness programs by calling 570-208-2252 or fill out our contact form.

An amazing summer experience awaits your child at Building Blocks Learning Center. Learn more about our summer camp and other summer programs or enroll your child today. We’ll keep your child engaged and learning all summer long!



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