Online learning is a way for parents, teachers, kindergarteners and parents to learn together. Is it possible?
The story of one kindergarten meltdown is now legendary. A story about a 5-year-old boy who is frustrated and upset sits in front his computer screen during school hours. This post received thousands of supportive responses from families across America. It isn’t easy to teach your youngest children online. Teachers and parents can attest.
The pandemic in the United States has made it difficult for many states to address the problem. However, federal programs have been around for a long time and have tried to replace in-person teaching with online learning for very young learners.
It can be for many reasons that some children cry. Kindergarten teachers must cover ground that is not taken for granted at other levels. Kids need to learn how to seperate from caregivers, how they should line up and how to go to the bathroom. In many cases, kindergarteners will also need to learn to read, which is one of the most difficult cognitive challenges we face as a species.
Teachers can’t really communicate the importance of cooperation or how to solve conflict with students who only have access to their friends through Zoom or Google Meet. How about the hard work required to teach a five-year-old child to decode words?
Then there are the children. They’re not really made for this. “Kindergartners need to be active and explore, and these things are not possible remotely, especially if you have to stare at a screen all day,” Lily Kang, a Boston-area kindergarten teacher, said.
Catherine Snow, an education professor at Harvard, agrees that in-person kindergarten is a problem. She said: “The greatest worries about missing in person kindergarten are about socioemotional development and learning to work together in groups.
It is important for kindergarten children to have a guardian or parent who can help them with online learning.
Sophia Prinzivalli’s son, Sal started kindergarten in Plantation, Florida this year. It is a small city six miles west from Fort Lauderdale. Her husband is responsible for keeping their son on track.
Prinzivalli said, “The big joke in our family is that my husband is going back into kindergarten because I told them you need to sit down with him at his laptop.” “And they will have to both be educated together, and he will have to support him through it.
Remote instruction is more beneficial for children who have received this support, while children without it are more likely not to succeed, which further compounds existing inequalities.
Snow states that even with support parents or guardians, certain things can be difficult to find online.
Snow stated that some children need to be taught how to work in groups.
How can teachers help make this happen? It is important to coordinate with caregivers and provide opportunities for socialization.
BUILDING RELATIONSHIPS w/ PARENTS & GUARDIANS
It’s crucial that kindergarten teachers view their students’ parents as partners this year and in the future, when children are working remotely, such as for snow days or other emergency situations, Many children this age are unable to sign up for an online class on their own. However, once they learn how to use Zoom and Google Meet, many can turn the camera on and off, and mutes themselves.
Many parents find it difficult to work from home and supervise their children’s education. Teachers should simplify things by reducing the number of apps you use. You might even be able to reduce them to one or two. Instead, use one communication channel such as email or text. You can streamline your LMS and make sure you post to the same place and time every day. Include links to all documents and references.
Keep it simple when in doubt
Allison Sawyer, a kindergarten teacher, is new to Tampa. With the Tampa Bay Times , she told Jeffrey S. Solochek that her school switched to remote learning because it allowed her to listen to her students’ concerns.
Solochek wrote that Sawyer reduced some demands while still setting high expectations. She emphasized one platform for interaction and links. She also increased communication between parents and children, who sometimes needed to learn how best to guide their children.
Ruth Calkins, a kindergarten teacher, emails her students’ parents every day. When her school moved to remote learning last academic year, Calkins realized she needed their support to make it work.
Calkins stated that parents were essential to the virtual learning experience in Edutopia, August. “Their children required the help and I needed to be a partner in getting them to do their work.”
Calkins used check-in emails as a way to give parents a list of her expectations and links to Zoom classes.
HELPING STUDENTS TO GET SOCIALIZATION RIGHTS
Janette Morency is a mother to Olivia, who is currently enrolled in kindergarten virtually in Plantation, Florida.
“It’s very difficult for me because she is very social and being at home is not easy for her,” Morency said. She’s a stay at home mom of three. This issue resonates with many families who educate the very young from their homes today.
Teachers use a variety of methods to help students, like Olivia, get to know each other through distance learning. Teachers may ask children questions such as “What do YOU want to be when your time is up?” to encourage interaction and help build relationships.
Children at other schools are encouraged to meet up for virtual lunch breaks. These informal social gatherings enable students to talk to and see their friends while eating, just as they do at school.
Samantha Hinds from New Orleans provided brain breaks for her kindergarteners when they were working remotely. To help students become more comfortable with one another, she also used small-group instruction.
Hinds stated that it is definitely more difficult to socialize online without making it a priority. “We spent the first 2 weeks getting to know each others. Students greeted one another by name each time they entered their small groups to get to know their classmates and their looks.
Hinds used closing questions to ask her students every day. She asked her students what their favorite snack was and they all agreed. Her children have worked together to create a list of qualities that make a good friend.
These practices were effective, she said. However, she is now teaching full-time in class.
Hinds stated that they were just as excited to see others again, even if it was online.
A WORD ON WRITING AND READING
Many schools have moved away from the days when kindergarteners could fingerpaint and play in a dress-up area. Kindergarten has become increasingly academic. Some educators call it the new first-grade.
Many kindergarten students will be able to learn how to read under these conditions.
This is what Snow finds troubling.
Snow stated that children all over the globe learn to read between 6 1/2 and 7. There is nothing magical about learning to read at 5, or 4. American obsession is to find a faster way to do things, and how we can do it sooner. It doesn’t make it easier or more efficient.
Snow believes that kindergarten teachers can maximize remote learning by helping students develop unconstrained literacy skills. These are skills that are acquired over a lifetime like vocabulary and background knowledge. She suggests that students can respond to the book using drawings or invented spellings, or have read-alouds and discussion about its content. Teachers could also ask their students to watch educational videos and then talk about what they have learned.
Snow stated, “If kindergarten could be made to be a place where children can explore lots of interesting ideas and are given lots of resources, then I believe they wouldn’t suffer long-term.”
Teachers in schools that encourage reading can also make it online. To help students learn phonics, instructional coaches suggest working in small groups. To assist with this instruction, online tools such as letter tiles can be used. You can also have breakout rooms where students can read to teachers. You can also request parents to take short videos of your children reading, and either email them or upload them to ClassDojo.
Teachers can encourage students to practice spelling by having them call out words and have them write them down with pencil and paper. Students can then hold the camera up and show it off.
Although this may sound overwhelming, many parents appreciate the hard work that teachers put in.
Prinzivalli stated that online learning cannot be substituted for traditional school, but things are going well so far.
Prinzivalli said that despite some technical difficulties, Prinzivalli is an excellent sponge who absorbs the lessons from his teacher. Prinzivalli said that she has done an excellent job of keeping him interested in school and engaged. His creativity and willingness to learn have been openly displayed.”