How to prepare preschoolers to start Hybrid learning?
By : Luh Putu Yeni Aristianti
If our children could choose, of course they would not want to have to study online but the circumstances are such that they have to adjust with the current situation and put their efforts into being happy with discomfort. Hybrid learning is a better option than spending their whole preschool life at home. In BSS, the children need to go to school 3 times a week and on the other 2 schooldays, they log into class using Google Meet and work on the posted assignments in Google Classroom. The primary reason schools are turning to hybrid learning during the pandemic is to lessen the number of students in the building. The school day or week can be divided into two with half the students in the building while the other half is learning online. With a fewer number of students in class, there’s a better opportunity for social distancing. Secondly, if an outbreak of the virus should occur, fewer people will be exposed to it.
Some tried and true teaching strategies can be helpful. For example, teachers should consider what the ultimate goal is, what steps will be needed to get students to that point, and what activities/lessons are more suitable for each modality. Some schools and districts are expecting students to work independently outside the classroom while others expect students to be on Zoom or other learning platforms.
According to the UNICEF guidelines for safe school reopening (page 25), it is recommended to use posters, paintings, role plays, songs, and games to introduce preschoolers to the health protocols to promote healthy habits at school. It is also suggested to do outdoor play, movements and activities in open space. Young children naturally want to share food and play with it, so it is advisable to implement staggered eating times to avoid long waiting times and make sure that breaks used for eating and drinking are pleasant and safe.
During online learning, parents and guardians should be alerted of the expectations of their child so they can help ensure their student is completing the work as needed.
Preschools rely heavily on openness to free play within carefully curated environments. Through play, children develop foundational social and emotional, executive functioning, and academic skills. Early childhood educators often act as facilitators, building upon children’s natural curiosities. To inspire play, we curate spaces with open-ended materials that provoke children’s engagement with each other and their surroundings.
Here are the ways to help children continue the learning at home—while staying true to what young children need most.
1. Let children guide the teachers: Although we’re not together, children are still playing, exploring, and learning in their homes. Teachers may ask parents to submit photos or videos of children’s play. During the small-group meetings, teachers display these photos or videos while singing topic-related songs with the children. There can be discussions about the photos or videos so children’s voices are heard and teachers are not the only leaders of remote discussions.
2. Provide meaningful alternatives to screen time: Children between the ages of 2 and 7 are still in the preoperational stage, and it is developmentally inappropriate to expect their learning to be entirely screen-based. With the automobile-inspired play, the teacher invites children to continue their exploration after their virtual meeting by building automobiles using cardboard boxes. The teacher then invites parents to share photos or videos of their children’s creations.
3. Music is magical: Children respond well to singing and dancing online. For a child, participating in a song or dance is an easy way to engage with a screen because they can follow the leader. The rules of this interaction are clear and translate well into an online format. Try a school-wide sing-along or use songs intermittently to re-engage children who may be distracted during a virtual meeting.
4. If children are disinterested during a virtual meeting, remember that they are young and this is new to everyone. If overall attendance is dwindling, the teachers need to call the parents to find out what children need and try your best to adapt.
Without the fullest support from all parents, the school’s programs and curriculum would not benefit the students in a well-rounded approach. Parents’ collaboration in providing the beloved children a positive, exciting and stimulating environment that introduces them to the joys of learning is quite valuable and necessary.
Douglas Fisher, Nacy, John Hattie ( 2020 ). The Distance Learning Playbook, Grades K12. US: Corwin Press