To minimize the risk of COVID-19 infections and spread, most schools have opted for online learning so that students can still study remotely. However, teaching preschool online can be a challenge. Not only do children have a low attention span and require close supervision, but teachers are also less equipped to teach preschoolers remotely. Here are a few tips on the best practices for teaching preschool online to ensure optimal learning for your pupils.
1. Keep Learning Activities Short and Engaging
Kids have a short attention span. Teaching kids online via video conferencing platforms can lead to fatigue, impairing concentration during an online learning session. With this in mind, it is advisable to keep your learning activities short and engaging to avoid wearing your learners out. By splitting your learning activities into short sessions, you give your preschool learners a chance to take a break and prevent monotony.
Make your lessons as engaging as possible to keep your learners’ attention and maintain their interest in learning activities. You can do this by using songs and dance, asking them questions, and alternating between passive and active learning activities. Although online learning sessions may be shorter, they will still be productive as your preschool kids won’t see it as a chore.
2. Involve Your Learner’s Families
Family involvement is crucial when teaching preschool online as it makes it easier to prepare the kids for preschool virtual learning. Encourage family members to be present when their kids are learning online as it fosters a sense of community and enables kids to attend the lessons as required. What’s more, family members can also help you supervise the learners during the class. Also, maintain remote relationships with your learner’s parents or guardians through regular communication, such as making weekly phone or video calls, as well as sending daily emails.
Since it can be challenging to use readily available learning materials at every learner’s home, you can ask parents to acquire a preschool kit. The kit should contain learning materials that you usually use in the classroom, such as colored papers, cards, play dough, shapes, and markers. Doing so promotes uniformity and consistency and helps the kids connect with the classroom.
3. Be Compassionate
Virtual learning is new to both preschoolers and teachers. Kids are not used to online learning, and virtual classes may disrupt family routines which can be overwhelming for parents. As such, be compassionate and patient with your learners as they try to adapt to the new way of learning. Also, understand parents or family members when they can’t always be present during their kids’ learning sessions.
Remember to be kind to yourself as no one has the training to teach preschool online. Appreciate that it will take time to adapt to using online teaching tools, and sometimes, your teaching strategies may not produce the result you desire. By treating yourself kindly, being compassionate to your learners, and using challenges as learning experiences, you can achieve a smooth teaching experience.
4. Create and Maintain a Routine
Children love a sense of routine and certainty. Develop a schedule that your learners will follow, and stick to it. One of the best ways to maintain a consistent schedule is by conducting activities that you usually carry out in a classroom setting. For example, a typical session may involve greeting every child when joining the lesson, singing a song, reading, engaging in an activity, and finally having a closing song.
A consistent routine helps learners know what to expect when they join your online class and promotes confidence in the new learning environment. However, you don’t have to use the same routine you apply in school if the dynamics of online learning do not allow it. Remember to factor in developmental milestones when planning your virtual learning activities. Ensure that you incorporate programs that cater to the children’s socio-emotional development, language and literacy skills, physical development, and cognitive development.
5. Provide Both Online and Offline Learning Options
When teaching preschool online, you need to consider that your learners are still developing and need limited screen time. When planning your learning activities, include offline activities for variety. Offline learning activities give your learners a break from the screen while remaining valuable. Examples of offline activities include creating things with card boxes or nature hunting.
You can also include follow-up activities that they can do with their parents and ask them to present them in the following learning session. Always ensure the tasks you set out for your preschool learners are easy to do, utilize available materials, and are not messy to avoid putting too much pressure on parents.
Teaching preschool online will require you to adapt your learning plans to fit the virtual program. While it may be challenging at first, considering the above best practices will help you conduct hassle-free online teaching. Note that you may have to explore different teaching strategies before finding the one that fits your learners. However, let your preschool kids be your guide by noting what they enjoy and incorporating it into your teaching program.