Early education plays a critical role in shaping a child’s learning abilities and adult personality and any disruption during this phase is not desirable says, Pooja Dugar, Founder & Director, Leap Years Preschool in a conversation with Elets News Network (ENN).
The Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdown hit us just when we, like all schools, were preparing to start the new academic year. This uncertainty could have jeopardised the learning process and that was a serious concern. Early education plays a critical role in shaping a child’s learning abilities and adult personality and any disruption during this phase is not desirable. Three basic factors motivated us to innovate.
Firstly: The children at Leap Years Preschool are aged between 1.5 to 5 years. During normal school functioning the curriculum is structured to help direct and indirect learning through experience based lessons and self-exploration. With long gaps, the child’s learning experiences would remain disconnected.
Secondly: Parents of older children face tough competition when they start applying for admission in the big schools. Their parents worried that the child would lose out because of this unexpected break in the learning and preparation.
Thirdly: We believe that the company of their teachers and friends plays an essential part in the nurturing and development of children.
We took a bold and unprecedented step and started our new academic year as scheduled through virtual classes. To sustain and enable continuity, we created a ‘Blended learning approach’ where the teachers guided the virtual classes, also guiding parents with a structured home-schooling curriculum.
Developing and implementing this unique ‘Blended Learning approach’ required a lot of hard work and inspired efforts by the teachers and staff.
• Training programs for teachers and parents to develop familiarity and comfort with virtual learning
• Developing online session content for teachers
• Modifying lesson plans for parents to home-school their children
• Make sure that resources and aids to homeschool the children are available at home
• Ensure technology used was user friendly
• Work with open lesson plans which allows the teachers to collaborate
We had a bit of advantage as well. We use a parent interaction app at Leap Years for teachers to share daily activities and lessons with the parents every morning. The new content was uploaded on this app while online classes ensure we stay connected.
Undoubtedly, brick and mortar classrooms have distinct advantages. However, our ability to leverage virtual education provided advantages and enabled us to ensure that learning was uninterrupted during this unpredictable time. It has helped families structure their day and in a routine. The children get to e-meet their school friends, interact with their teachers, enjoy virtual circle time learning new facts, singing rhymes, and listening to stories. All this helps them to stay connected and continue learning. Once the school reopens, our children won’t be burdened with unending homework and curriculum. They will be able to move forward seamlessly without the separation anxiety that tends to create problems during such disruptions.
Feedback from parents are that our ‘Blended Learning Approach’ for homeschooling has helped them bond better with their kids and they are reliving their childhood through this. We are delighted. Though we realise this maybe the starting of the new normal and we are committed to keep innovating and nurture the children with love.