ACG Parnell Early Learning School (ELS) is currently offering an online learning programme for their young charges. Operating during Level 3 and 4, the online sessions have been created to keep little ones entertained while also increasing their knowledge and encouraging social interaction at what could otherwise be quite an isolating time.
We've spoken to Centre Manager Jane Chen and her team about the benefits of online learning. They have outlined the programme below, providing some helpful tips for parents with active youngsters.
Which age ranges does your online learning programme cover?
We are offering three different virtual classes across age ranges. So, we have daily age-appropriate online sessions for our Under Twos (0 to 2 years), Toddlers (2 to 3.5 years) and Preschoolers (3.5 to 5 years).
What sort of programme are you offering?
Each Zoom session begins with a welcome song and then features a range of other activities based on children's current interests. For our younger classes, the virtual programme centres around their learning needs and their abilities. It includes interactive games, music and movement, puppet show and storytelling. For older children, we focus on phonetics – like the letter G with related stories, along with singing, games and reading books.
We also produce daily worksheets for the children (as home learning tools) and create fun themed events such as pyjama day, sharing your breakfast, or celebrating Father's Day.
How long do the daily sessions last?
For our Under Twos, sessions last between 20 to 30 minutes. And 30 to 40 minutes with our Toddlers and Preschoolers depending on the tasks we have organised for the day.
How much (if any) parental supervision is required?
If it is a mat time session with storytelling and music, children can do this independently so that parents can enjoy a quiet moment for themselves. However, parents are welcome (and encouraged) to join in during the sessions so they can be part of their child's learning development. That way, we can help to support and guide them along the way during this lockdown.
Why is it so important for young children to attend online learning?
It's vital for teachers and children to continue to interact. We are using virtual learning to maintain familiarity, positive relationships and extend our support for home learning. And keeping the same daily routines will help to enable a smooth transition for children when they return to the ELS. These interactions are also essential for parents as they maintain parent-teacher communication about their child's home-centred learning experience.
What are the benefits of online learning for such young children?
It allows both our teachers and our children to maintain a constant connection within their own community group. And by providing different sessions for different ages, teachers and children can truly incorporate learning curves that are most intriguing to their specified group. That way, we can make sure everyone feels welcome to participate and enjoy the activities and sessions with us.
What advice do you have for parents trying to entertain young children during lockdown?
Keep it simple, and keep it fun and meaningful (not with a telephone in hand). We encourage parents to keep days as active as possible and explore the outdoors or even just the garden with their child. And, of course, it's also very important to try to keep your daily routine the same too, with the same meal and bedtimes.
What are you most looking forward to when the ELS can re-open?
I think the thing I am most looking forward to is seeing the children's beaming smiles.