Ever since the COVID-19 outbreak, educational systems around the world have shifted to remote learning. Schools have cancelled face to face classes in hopes of weakening the spread of the virus. But what happens to young kids who rely on free play and social interaction in order to learn?
For educators, creating remote virtual pre-k learning during lockdown is a challenging task. But they’ve got no choice but to make it work — classes must go on for the little ones.
We have laid out key strategies to make remote learning as interactive and as effective as they can be, especially for children in their formative years.
1. Consult with parents
Parents are your partners in ensuring learning continues at home. They play a crucial role in the implementation of virtual pre-k programs, which is why it is important to consult with them from the very beginning. Invite them in an online planning session where they can share insights and suggestions for the program. Remote learning can be an effective experience if the needs of the children are addressed, and parents are the ones who know what is best for them. You can use a variety of needs assessment methods such as survey and small group discussions to hear their thoughts. Involving parents at the planning stage is a better approach than consulting with them in the middle of the school year. Remember, they have a family to take care of and other responsibilities too. Make meetings voluntary and be mindful when to organize them.
2. Limit screen time
When we hear about virtual learning, we immediately relate it to prolonged screen time, which is true. But learners below the age of 7 should be an exception to that, because excessive screen time can be quite harmful to their holistic development. Virtual pre-k programs should include alternatives that can limit their screen time. Instead, include activities that can enhance their observation and interaction with their surroundings.
Encourage parents to let their child learn on their own through free play or educational toys that can spark their curiosities. In this crucial age, organic interactions are more effective in developing their cognitive and social skills compared to relying everything on screen-based learning.
3. Address their mental health
Being on lockdown deprives your little ones of outdoor fun and social interaction with their peers. The feeling of isolation amidst a pandemic can take a huge toll on their mental health. This can leave them feeling irritated and uninterested to do activities that they usually enjoy. As teachers, you should help them fight their anxieties.
Always communicate with your students and make them feel welcome to share whatever’s on their mind. Check up on them and ask the parents if the virtual classes are helping them cope or not.
Motivate the kids to set goals for themselves, however simple it may be. Allot a portion of synchronous learning for games and other fun activities. It is important for kids to treat their pre-k education as an essential part of their life rather as a task. Growth during this preoperational stage plays a huge role in shaping them for the future.
4. Develop the children’s daily routine
Our concept of time may seem a little blurry by being stuck at home, and young kids can feel it too. Remote pre-k programs should be able to help parents in making a daily routine for their children. At the same time, it should give families enough flexibility to plan their activities when they are not in front of the screen.
One example would be setting up a morning and an afternoon meeting to check up on the students and ask them what they did throughout the day. It is also good to have an activity where they will make their own time table and share it to other kids in the program.
5. Be creative with technology
Technology has become even more advanced due to the sudden shift in remote learning. Even though young kids are already exposed to various forms of media and technology, there is still a challenge to engage them and keep them excited.
Do not limit the use of technology to only one platform or website, there are countless learning sites that are improving the attention span of young kids. In consulting with the parents, you may ask them which form of media is best for them. Take this into consideration first. Whether it is an online quiz website, an interactive game, or an educational movie watch party, explore as many technologies as you can to see which is the perfect fit for the students.
If there are tech-savvy teachers available, ask them to share their creative juices for the benefit of the program. However if the daycare center or school is still a low-tech institution, there are many resources that you can rely on for new knowledge.
6. Collaborate with the students
Last but not the least, always collaborate and listen to the students. In this kind of learning setup, it is better to give kids a chance to decide. Let them learn on their own pace instead of squeezing in multiple topics or activities in a short amount of time.
After every activity, have a conversation with them and ask how the feel about the lessons. It is essential to make them look forward each day of their pre-k program.
Looking for a program that has incorporated these remote learning strategies and has the best teachers? With Baby Steps, you can take comfort in knowing your child’s in good hands.
The current pandemic does not stop us from providing quality preschool education to your little ones. Our virtual pre-k programs are designed to ignite their interests, allow them to learn at their own pace and interact with other kids like they have never left the classroom!
Whether you are from New York City or elsewhere, feel free to reach out to us through email or phone. We are more than happy to share about the enrollment process and more.
Here at Baby Steps, we are always looking for more people to join the family!