Hello Early Years Community!
First of all a huge shout out to all the educators, including parents, who are teaching preschoolers at this time! I know that there are a considerable number of unexpected homeschoolers out there and it’s not an easy task to keep young ones busy, day after day, without the norm of a routine that incorporates outdoor play.
I’ve been blown away with the plans that have, speedily, been put in place by the early childhood education communities that I am in touch with in the UAE, USA, Nigeria and the UK. Not everyone has been able to put something in place for various reasons and that has to be okay in the circumstances. As everyone is saying - these are, definitely, unprecedented times.
I’m hoping that some of the tips I have gleaned from various professional conversations, will be helpful to educators and parents alike. The challenge within early years is that hands-on learning remains key to the process of success.
As a company, we have set up a Wakelet page for various ages (birth to six years), with a number of carefully chosen resources, activities and videos. You are welcome to follow us by clicking here and access the information for free and will be updated weekly. There's also information for leaders within early childhood education. .
5 Tips for Successful Distance Learning - Early Years
For parents and carers - create a daily plan, suitable for the developmental stage of your child/children and based on his/her attention span. I believe I have said this before in an earlier blog post. It’s probably a good idea not to set expectations too high, but a schedule will help everyone in the family. Remain flexible and be willing to change the plans if necessary. Change is acceptable.
For parents and carers - if possible, ask your child’s teacher for help and suggestions. Particularly if your child is transitioning from pre-school to ‘big school’ whenever schools reopen. Such information given may be specific to the curriculum in your child's preschool/kindergarten.
For educators - consider hosting online forums/meetings with small groups of parents; or if the relationship allows for this, call parents individually, occasionally, to check in and find out how the family is. It’s important to connect at the moment and it will be particularly nice to speak to the children in your class (this is clearly age specific). Necessarily the normal safeguarding procedures will apply for any conversations with children.
For educators - A few of my professional communities have asked about assessment - how can preschoolers be assessed at this time? I noticed recently that in England, the Department for Education has suspended assessments under the Early Years Foundation Stage (‘EYFS’); see information in the box below.
5. Some of my colleagues in the U.S. are going ahead with assessments, using tools such as High Scope’s COR Advantage 1.5; conducting parent surveys; observing children during online sessions; asking parents to complete parent-friendly observation sheets.
One of my big take aways, as I am sure many of you have experienced, is that there are high levels of cooperation and learning from one another, as we navigate these unchartered territories. With these changes, my personal wish is that this flexible teaching and learning within early childhood education, will be one of the solutions for children who have been displaced by conflict in a number of countries and have had little or no access to education..
Wishing you all the very best. Please contact me if you have any questions. Always happy to share.
Patricia Mezu is the founder of Professional Minds MEA.
She is a Montessori advocate and is based in the UAE.