How early childhood educators and teachers can support preschoolers during Covid19
We’re all feeling the pressure at the moment to: ‘homeschool’ our children; develop remote learning packs for preschoolers; continue the kindergarten curriculum in the home; provide flexible learning plans for families in self-isolation; provide a safe learning environment for children with families who are ‘essential workers’.
The pressure is overwhelming and stressful, and has had an impact on all educators, teachers, leadership teams, families, and children.
In my opinion as an allied health professional I believe that the most important task for us to undertake at the moment is to ensure that all children are being provided the best possible care and support for their current individual situation. For children who are living in at-risk homes, or are being cared for by their grandparents or family members, I believe that the most important task for these children right now is to be in a safe environment surrounded by positive role models, enjoying positive play connections each day.
Of course every child’s education is important. However, their well-being is of utmost importance.
For children who are accessing their kindergarten program in a long daycare setting or council run kindergarten, I encourage educators and teachers to make play and exploration a greater priority at the moment, than academic literacy and numeracy.
If some of the children in your service are of good mental health and come into your classroom eager to progress their skills to including literacy and numeracy in their play activities, then be sure to follow the lead of the child’s learning. Although the priority right now is to ensure that children and their families are safe, well, and positively connected in their classroom and/or at home.
For children who are self-isolating at home I would encourage services to share play strategies with families including activity ideas such as:
- How to promote sensory play using common kitchen utensils and ingredients
- Outdoor scavenger hunt
- Indoor activities to do with a balloon
- Creating castles using a blanket forte
- 5 activities to create with a cardboard box
- The list goes on.
Sharing your play expertise with families provides families with the possibility of developing positive connections between parents, children, and siblings. A simple handout that shares play inspiration with families can have a greater impact on a child’s learning outcomes, than providing parent’s with academic worksheets that place pressure on children to perform numeracy, literacy and handwriting.
I can appreciate that some families place academic pressure on educators. I have seen some parents want their child to be able to write their name and read a book by the time they finish their kindergarten year. However as educators, continue to share your learning and play expertise with families by reminding families about all of the skills that children need to develop and master before going to school.
For example, children need to be able to dress themselves independently, find their own lunch box, ask for help when they’re feeling stuck or sad,
coordinate the movement of their body, follow 3 to 4 step instructions.
All of these school readiness skills can be practised at home during this time. Then once children return to their classrooms, they will have a stronger foundation laid for their academic learning.
Children are also learning numeracy and literacy principles during every day play experiences more than parents often realise.
As you share your expertise in play observations with families, I believe that we can all work together for the best interests of our children.
For more strategies see our Early Learning Movement and Play course - https://play-move-improve.thinkific.com/courses/early-learning-movement-and-play-course