Conventionally, preschools rely on open spaces for children to play and explore which encourages their social, emotional, motor and academic development. In between, preschool educators curate spaces that have open-ended materials to inspire children’s engagement with each other and their surroundings.
Now that remote learning is an inevitable part of the education syllabuses, including in preschool education, teaching preschool virtually is something that early childhood educators have to adapt to.
Here are some of the teaching strategies preschool teachers have employed for online learning.
1.Hearing what the children say
Even though teachers and students are not physically together, the children are still playing, exploring and learning in their homes. The key is to work alongside family members to minimise screen time while fostering play-based learning at home.
For example, parents can submit photos and videos of their children’s play to teachers to identify their little ones’ interests. During the online preschool classes, teachers can display these photos and videos while connecting with them. This allows the children’s voices to be heard and for teachers to be facilitators instead of “leaders” in remote discussions.
2.Searching for meaningful alternatives to screen time
Younger children are likely to find difficulty in paying attention to online preschool classes. To facilitate their screen-based lessons, teachers can assign art projects for students to continue their explorative learning based on the theme of the lesson. If the teacher was teaching about space on that day, the homework can be about making a spaceship out of recycled materials for show-and-tell in their next online class. Activities that involve the child’s physical senses are one of the feasible online teaching tips early childhood educators can leverage on.
3.Working together with the student’s family
Often, preschool teachers feel the pressure to educate young students flawlessly due to the parents’ high expectations. Nevertheless, expectations from both sides can be managed by setting aside time to discuss and collaborate together. With the current challenge of teaching preschool online, teachers have to work together with their students’ families to deliver the best preschool education the little ones deserve.
Parents can ask what their children have learned, for instance, to reinforce the lessons taught. They can (and should) also bring up the student’s learning difficulties to the teacher if they have noticed any at home.
4.Fostering a good remote relationship
Teaching preschool online extends to maintaining good relationships and support with students and their families. In other words, relationships are just as important as ensuring the lessons are delivered. Despite the physical distance, teachers can still stay in touch with their students to show they care.
Principals and the teaching staff can start by creating a schedule to connect with the students and their families over the phone or video calls, whichever platform they’re most comfortable with. Additionally, crafting emails that include a note of gratitude and positivity goes a long way, as well as arts and crafts ideas and fun video recordings of sing-a-longs.
The shift from a traditional classroom setting to an online-based environment certainly comes as a surprise for many preschool educators in the 21st century. With the online teaching tips above, they do provide a way for young learners to continue their crucial early childhood education. Preschool online learning in Malaysia is a relatively new field, which requires specialised teachers to deliver online lessons to children smoothly and efficiently.