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Educators cringe at the thought of online learning for preschoolers. Even we do not supporting tech learning for pre-primary children. However the situation in COVID is very unique. Outdoor Play, Individualised Child-Led Learning and clear limits are pillars of stress free parenting and healthy children. But COVID has disrupted the pillars.
We need to improvise in this changed environment and learning must continue because we don’t know when will normalcy be restored. Online learning in bite sized sessions does seem to help children.
I make this article from the experiences of Savi Montessori online sessions. Our sessions have almost run for a month and a half and here is our take on the online learning.
Teachers moderate the learning (rather than an app/animation)
Teachers should moderate the learning rather than it being driven by animation or cartoons. Children respond to people, especially if it is the teacher they know and communicate with often, they are very comfortable and enjoy the session.
Encourage Hands-On learning
This is a bit tricky since tech is a 2 dimensional interface. However with props and materials this can be addressed. Children should have the materials ready during the online sessions and teachers should incorporate these materials in the online sessions with the children.
Encourage Interaction during sessions
Teachers should interact with each child individually. This keeps the child connected to the teacher and to the whole group. Children participate whole heartedly when their names are called out.
Sessions should be short
Generally children below 6 years have lower tendency to sit at one place. Due to the need of their bodies to be moving, the online sessions should be kept short. Again each child is unique, but generally 30-45 mins sessions are enough for children below 6 years.
Learning should incorporate sensitive period of the child
This is the most critical aspect whether it be online learning or school learning. The learning should be according to the sensitive period of the child. For example, 4 years is sensitive period for Math. So teachers should incorporate counting or sequence in the online sessions
Online learning is not a permanent solution and this shouldn’t be read as a substitute to normal learning. However since the situation has changed completely due to corona crisis, we must adapt. Humans are master of adapting to our environment. That is how we thrive.