Learning for pre-primary teachers

It has been almost three months since the first lockdown was announced. Schools were forced to be closed early and no one had ever thought that we will be confined to our homes for three long months & more. As the situation grew grim the debate on online or virtual learning began and as is with so every other thing this topic too had its proponents and opponents. In midst of all these debates and workshops and webinars were the teachers who had suddenly been exposed to a totally different method of teaching. It came with its own challenges. There was internet connectivity troubles, poor network, lack of gadgets, lack of skill sets, lack of teaching aids, lack of leadership, timing challenges, household chores etc. The list was endless. The most crucial of all these factors was the lack of skill sets and a struggle of finding the correct content for the virtual medium.

Many of the teachers are still facing the problems. Though there are many guidelines, many online sessions on virtual learning, there yet are many teachers who are completely lost as to how to take it forward. This write-up is an attempt to help the teachers mostly in tier-2 and tier-3 towns.

Dear teachers, technology has proven itself to be the most useful, the most purposeful tool for development during these unforeseen COVID times like never before. We are using it day in and day out. And you all would agree that the lockdown would have felt like a complete black-out phase without the technology in our hands. We all know how to use our smart phones. We all have access to the same type of resources and information. We just need to know what to look for, what topics to search for. Once you start looking for the right kind of content, half of your problems will be solved. We will now focus on how to plan the curriculum for virtual classes for early childhood years.

First and foremost you as teachers should have the confidence and the belief that early childhood years are the most important years in the developmental process of a child. So, as educators and care providers, you have a very important role to be played in this process of growth. You have to plan a curriculum which takes into account all aspects of development and lockdown or no-lockdown the process of learning cannot stop. It’s just that the method of learning will change in the present times. Teachers need to be prepared with a module for blended learning. You will have to conduct virtual classes and when the schools start you will have learning in physical classrooms with virtual learning. So, there is a lot of unlearning and learning that’s going to happen.

Now, while planning a curriculum or teaching plan to be delivered through virtual platforms, please make sure that it is efficient and effective. The efficacy and effectiveness can be checked or realized in a week or two’s time. If children have still not settled or you feel that you are facing difficulty in delivering then you should be prepared with a plan-B

To make your program effective, you should make sure that it contains all the fun elements to keep the spirit high of both teacher and students. The focus at present cannot be on academics alone. We have to make sure that the socio-emotional needs of a child are being fulfilled. As an example, we are sharing a sample program with you which can be customized for playgroup and nursery kids

Start with a music and movement session.

Music keeps the children heavily happy. Music and movement lets them loosen up a lot and sets the right tone to start the day. Play a song that is age appropriate and has the correct wordings. Motivate them to move and dance and sing too.

Follow it with a few mindfulness exercises like chanting, yoga, activities.

Sing a lot of rhymes for the little ones. Children love to hear songs. Sing a lot in the class. This will help you a lot in concept delivery. Rhymes and songs can assist you in adding more and new words to their vocabulary

Core concept for the day. This can be taught using rhymes or sit-down activities or physical movement. Please keep a lot of visual aids prepared. These can be simple finger puppets or blocks or anything easily available. It would be even more beneficial to use objects which are accessible at home. Parents can use the same objects to revise or repeat the exercises at home.

To deliver the concept, keep your keynotes ready too. You would not want to miss out on any of the important elements of the concept.

Be expressive. Show emotions and do not forget to take names of the children.

Connect with them and keep it as interactive as possible. To take their reactions you may use a lot of expressions. Like if they have not completed the task, ask them to make a “boo” face; if they are super happy, ask them to stand and wriggle their body’ if they are bored then ask them to cover their face with palms etc.

Being silly, carrying humour in the class is most important. Humour has a very profounding impact on the cognitive skills of the child. It also helps them to be good at problem solving skills.

End your class with a small story and give them a task to be done at home. It can be any practical life skill related task or something that can be done with the assistance of parents

You will also have to understand that learning aids are important, what is not important at all for them is to be fancier. Wear your thinking hats and make learning aids with the easily available materials

Give a list of material that the parents will need for the class in advance to them. The list should be complete. Include everything. Add threads, scissors, glue, papers, katories anything and everything that the activity requires. It will make your sessions seamlessly easier for all of you.

Whenever possible, provide the material to the parents. You can ask them to collect the material list from the schools. Give the tokens and just handover the kits with following social distancing and all precautions.

I am very sure that all these will be helpful to you in planning and delivering your own virtual learning sessions. Happy teaching and happy learning! Enclosed are a few resources you may want to follow

Resources available on youtube

Sparkabilities, Hey Duggie, Bumble Buns & Gruff, Storybots etc

Facebook pages like

Deekshakids, Totknots etc

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