A lot of people are scrambling to find ways to conduct office meetings, meet customers, and just plain interact during this time of Covid-19-imposed isolation while we try to flatten the curve. But it’s not only business activities that have been affected. Our preschooler suddenly found himself away from his classroom. No more circle time, no more friends, and most importantly to him, no more interaction with his teacher. I wrote this quick guide to using Zoom for preschool so his teacher could set up and use Zoom and stay in contact with him and his classmates during these unsure times.
If you are interested in activities you can use with preschoolers over Zoom, check out this article from Ish Mom.
What is Zoom?
Zoom is a video conferencing cloud-based platform. You can use it to host video meetings, conference calls, screen sharing, chat, and probably a whole host of other options. They have a lot of premium plans and options suited for businesses small and large, but in this guide we will be focusing on the basic plan which is free.
The basis plan lets you:
- Host up to 100 participants in your video meeting
- Host meetings up to 40 minutes in length
- Lets you host unlimited 1 on 1 meetings
- Host meetings from a laptop or cell phone
- Allow others to join your meetings without an account
- All for free!
So, for teaching a preschool class over Zoom, the basic Zoom plan is perfect.
Creating an account
Creating a Zoom account is quick and easy.
- Go to zoom.us/signup
- Enter an email address. It asks for a work email, but any email will work
- Open your email from Zoom with the subject Please activate your Zoom Account and click the link to activate your account.
- Input your first and last name and create a new password. click continue.
- Click Skip this step on the next screen. We can invite people to Zoom with us later.
- On the next screen click Go to My Account.
- You’re now all signed up for Zoom!
Now That I’m Signed up for Zoom, How Do I Host a Preschool Meeting?
Your Zoom account is now set up and you want to host your first meeting. Remember that with a free account you can only host a meeting for 40 minutes and with fewer than 100 participants.
- On your Zoom account page, click on Meetings on the left side of the screen.
- Click on Schedule a New Meeting to open up the Meetings scheduler.
- There are a lot of options on this page. You can set a meeting Topic (name of the meeting), add a description to the meeting, create a reoccurring meeting that happens at the same time every day, etc. The important ones are to set the date and time of the meeting.
- Once you have set the date and time of the meeting, and any other options you choose, click Save.
Your meeting is now ready! Copy the URL and share it with the meeting participants. Once they click on the link, they’ll be asked to download a small file. This is the Zoom client. Double click on on download and let the program run and install. You should go to the URL too and follow the above steps to start the meeting. The people you share the URL with won’t need an account and will still be able to participate in the Zoom meeting.
You now know how to create a Zoom account and set up Zoom meetings. The people you share your meeting URL with will be able to join your meetings from a traditional computer or laptop. Most laptops these days come with a built-in webcam and microphone so are ideal for video conferencing. But what if they don’t have a laptop?
Using Zoom on Mobile Phones
Using Zoom from your mobile phone might make more sense than from a traditional computer or laptop. Mobile phones are, well, mobile , allowing you not to be stuck behind a desk. Also, nearly everyone has a smart phone these days. One hiccup with this, is that all participants will have to download the app ahead of time and sign up with an account. The following instructions will also work for those using a tablet or iPad!
All participants will need to download the Zoom mobile app. Download either the Android or iOS version of the app. Once the app is installed on your device, click Sign Up and follow the instructions to create an account, as per above. Tap Sign In to log into the Zoom account.
Once you’re signed into your Zoom account it’s easy to host a meeting on the fly. Tap New Meeting and then Start a Meeting. You’re new meeting will start immediately! But there’s no one else in the meeting with you. Tap once on the video to bring the bottom menu bar up. Then tap Participants and then Invite. You’ll get a list of ways to share the invitation link. You can send a text message, an email, or copy the url and send it in a different app.
Anyone with the link to your meeting will be able to join, whether they are using the desktop version of Zoom or the mobile app. When the meeting is finished, you can end it by pressing the red End button on the upper right side of the screen.
Zoom is a powerful video conferencing and meeting tool. There’s a lot of options and settings that weren’t covered in this short article. For your preschool classroom, you can use Zoom to screen share, share documents, and even have people join meetings by telephone. You can also share sing songs and have circle time with preschoolers.
Do you have any more questions about using zoom? Leave a comment about how you plan on using Zoom. My wife wrote a companion article about activities to use with preschoolers over Zoom. Also, you may be interested in my article on optimal image sizes for social media.