The Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a dramatic change in the education system. A sudden shift away from classrooms had to be reinvented with learning on digital platforms. In response to the call of the hour, we at Kid Veda Pre-school have taken an innovative approach to teaching and learning continuity. As Early childhood educators we had an additional responsibility to balance screen time exposure with a suitable format which was viable for preschoolers. Early childhood education sets the stage for a child’s cognitive development and learning trajectory. Keeping this in mind Kid Veda has re-designed re-organized and innovated with various teaching techniques and have successfully managed to accomplish learning goals for our preschoolers.
This drastic shift from classroom learning to digital platform was not an easy path to tread. It required holistic planning, devising a process of execution and training our teachers to work with digital medium. The aim was to start a new learning and developmental journey which equipped the child not only with academic skills but also worked on their emotional, social, cognitive and linguistic growth.
We went ahead in a planned manner in four stages or Steps-
STEP 1: THE PLANNING STAGE
The first step was to remodel the syllabus so that it was organized, implementable and accessible for the online platform. Detailed research and planning went into addressing aspects of children’s attention span, motivation and retention. The aim was simple – to plan a syllabus which was easy to navigate for teachers, parents and children and ensure that learning objectives are met effectively through the online learning mode.
The second step was to create a weekly, monthly and term oriented execution plans. This was an essential part of the planning process as it outlined with clarity what the learning objectives are going to be and the methods to be used to meet them.
In order to make online education easier to evaluate for teachers and interesting for preschoolers, various tools of digitization and technology have been used to design an online assessment process to determine achievement of learning goals for our little scholars.
The absence of classroom teaching, challenged us to explore the use of audio-video aids as a support for E-learning. Audio-video resources created for language and rhyme not only enabled preschoolers to use their eyes and ears in conjunction but also provided variety in the learning process and in turn maintaining their interest.
The sense of touch, sight and hearing are assumed to be the most important senses in the learning process. Keeping this in mind Kid Veda introduced fine motor skill activities to develop better hand -eye coordination and motor skills for our early learners. Advanced video resources were used to design activities on fine motor skills, hand-writing and rhymes.
Preschool activities play a huge role in enhancing the quality of learning. Interesting language skill activities and resources were created to aid the child to think rationally, build cognitive skills, improve communication and increase vocabulary albeit on a digital platform. Regular practice processes were created through worksheets along with weekly practice work.
Kid Veda focuses on holistic development of the child. Keeping this in mind the teaching challenges of online classes, specific programs were designed for different age groups like preparatory, nursery and kindergarten. Teachers of each of these programs were separately trained for teaching, handling and engaging children on an online platform. The aim was to provide our children with the same comfort that they would find in classroom learning, to the best of our ability.
STEP 2: THE EXECUTION STAGE
Long sessions of online classes can be challenging for children in terms of attention span and energy levels. However, screen time can also be a positive influence, especially when it is active and educational. Keeping this in mind Kid Veda aimed to ensure that the child experiences the best of both worlds with a good balance between activity based sessions and online learning. Activities like storytelling, drama, craft work using material available in and around the house, prop and coloring exercises were interspersed within the learning session to limit screen time exposure.
Early childhood Education is all about helping children achieve developmental milestones in a healthy and happy environment. Keeping their unique needs in mind, activities and routines were adapted to develop and refine motor skills using material available at home. Cognitive, linguistic, social and emotional developments were addressed by using child centric exercises, activities and worksheets distributed on a weekly basis.
Life skill lessons were introduced through storytelling activities and engaging them in character observations . Linguist development was stimulated by encouraging children to vocalize their feelings, using songs and rhymes, role play activities and increasing their vocabulary through picture recognition. To break the monotony of everyday lessons online yoga, aerobics dance and music sessions were conducted intermittently. Bridge classes were especially organized for our students who have missed a whole academic session due to the pandemic situation and bring them up to date with learning. Special attention and training were also given to students who were making a headway for their primary school admissions.
Kid Veda believes that a positive teacher- child relationship lays the foundation for creating a supportive learning environment. The pandemic has deprived us of real classrooms but our teachers made a special effort to connect to each child through telephone calls and home visits. This helped create a personalized bond between the teacher and the students and affirmed a positive classroom space on the virtual platform.
STEP 3: ENSURING LEARNING IS ACTIVITY BASED
In Kid Veda we believe that celebrating festivals and events is a great way to inculcate tolerance and respect in children and affirm in them the value of our rich cultural heritage. Celebrating significant days is also a joyful way of teaching children the importance of the event we are observing. Based on this concept we introduced the thought of Reduce-Reuse and Recycle to our little nature lovers and the whole Kid Veda community of teachers, parents and children took a pledge together to do our bit to conserve nature, this Earth Day.
We want our children not just to learn in classrooms but also want them to learn from the environment outside. Father’s Day, Mother’s Day and Friendship day were made special by encouraging the children to make cards and do little gestures for their parents and friends to show them how grateful they are to have them in their lives. The intention was just one to inculcate the importance of relationship in them. Many fun activities were also organized on children’s day which made our budding learners very happy on this special occasion.
National and religious festivals like Independence day, Gandhi Jayanti, Bihu, Diwali, Eid, Christmas, Rabha Divas, Jayanti of Mahaprabhu Shankardev etc were celebrated online through innovative contests, story-telling, Role play, and fun activities. Parents were also actively involved in these celebrations to make it more lively and vivacious.
Besides these special occasions, the school also involved children in weekly and monthly activities to address boredom during lockdown and engaged them constructively with fireless cooking, bottle art, pebble art, shadow work, tent making, exploring and creating from nature and also encouraged them to be helpful around the house. Additionally our Busy- Bee Club comes together to jointly organizes workshops for our children on every last Sunday of the month.
Covid -19 may have changed our lives but it couldn’t dampen our spirits. We have learned, laughed, played together and even managed to celebrate’ Kid -Fest’ our annual event online with great positivity and enthusiasm.
STEP 4: PARENTAL GUIDANCE AND INVOLVEMENT
Kid Veda’s is not just a chain of pre-school but it is a community of parents and teachers where we work together to nurture and foster positive development of the child. Our Positive Parenting Initiative supports parents by providing them with parenting solutions and behavioral strategies for constructive outcomes.
Parenting experts and child Counselors were invited to panel webinars on various parenting challenges like Regulating Screen Time, dealing with Temper Tantrums, How to keep children safe and healthy and many more topics of relevance. Personalized counseling sessions were also organized for parents with experts in the field whenever it was thought necessary.
Supportive parenting was encouraged to help nurture each child both at school and in the home environment. Parents were personally guided by our child counselors on how to be responsive and engaging in the teaching and learning process.
Fun and Well-being activities like Yoga Sessions, recipe Contest using Local ‘ Jalpan’ ingredients were conducted for parents to keep their spirits high in these difficult times.
As we wait eagerly to welcome our children back into school spaces and hope that normalcy returns into our lives, we at Kid Veda pledge to keep exploring and evolving in our path. We will continue to work with great zeal and enthusiasm to innovate, discover and adapt to new methods of teaching and integrate technology in a constructive way to make online learning fun and interesting for our children.