By Rohan Parikh, Managing Director, The Green Acres Academy, A school by The Acres Foundation
The pandemic has weighed down on us all. We are fatigued, bored, often overworked and always at home! Our littlest ones too, feel this way. Our preschoolers have unfortunately not had the opportunity to go out into the world, explore new things, play and learn.
Instead, like all other privileged school going children they have been learning online from their homes.
Research shows that learning in the early years is essential in setting a foundation for future learning. Learning here includes social-emotional development, physical development as well as cognitive development. However, learning online is unlike schooling in person. It is much more limited in terms of the kinds of interactions, experiences and opportunities for learning students have access to.
For preschool aged children, the consequences of these limitations are far greater than for older school going children. The youngest ones are yet to learn self-regulation, how to maintain focus and stay on task. In fact, a big part of schooling includes learning these skills.
Thus, in order to help preschoolers find school engaging, to keep them interested and to make sure school continues to be a space for great learning, we must ensure that online school is fun!
For years, educators have agreed that central to learning for such young children is play, even in an in-person school setting. And research has found that positive experiences in the early years contribute to life expectancy, health and social-emotional skills later in life.
It is therefore critical that we do not make schooling and especially online schooling for preschoolers too academic, where young students are constantly burdened with too much writing, too much homework and no opportunities for engagement and fun.
We must remember that play is a great vehicle for student learning!
Along with play, if we leverage students’ interests, we will be able to hold their attention longer, keep them engaged and create opportunities for learning that they enjoy and look forward to. Overall, not only will this ensure that critical learning for students can continue to take place but also students will be excited and look forward to coming back to school day in and day out!