There is a lot we can all learn from young children in these difficult times! As we prepare for our first virtual summer term in education history, we have been hearing some heart-warming tales from our parents.
We educate some very young pre-prep children at The Mulberry House School in north west London – aged 2-7 – so we were naturally worried about the effect not coming to school would have on them.
How would they cope without their classmates every day? How would they cope without the routine of coming to school? How would they manage with their learning? It turns out they were one step ahead of us.
One of our pupils has apparently insisted that a school bell should be rung at the beginning and end of ‘school time’ so that they can separate home time from school time. What a fantastic idea!
Others have simply got dressed in their uniforms before the school day starts because it helps them to get into school mode. They then change into their play clothes at the end of the school day. School over and job done!
Meanwhile, some of the activities we have been suggesting to introduce and support topics they have been working on have been dispensed in just a few minutes rather than taking a lesson to mull over and consider. Back to the drawing board for us!
As our pupils are so young, we have been heavily reliant on our parents to support everything they are doing and they have really risen to the challenge. We cannot thank them enough.
And with their feedback, we are planning how to help them balance learning and play in the next few weeks with hopefully a few new innovations to catch their children’s attention and help them to stay in touch.
While older children can learn live via their screens and have the independence to do so, younger children do not have the concentration to follow lessons live. I am sure they would simply wander away from the screen.
We are providing parents with the more detailed timetable they have asked for to enable them to oversee and collaborate with their children’s learning. But there is a place for the power of technology. We have recorded video messages from their class teachers to explain some of the learning they will be doing and simply to say ‘hello’. These will be recorded weekly and we hope they will help the children to stay in touch.
Each class will have a recorded music lesson and our PE teacher is filming a five minute workout for the children to follow while we will be making some videos to suggest some arts and crafts the children can carry out during their art lessons.
We will be setting a weekly challenge via a video link and reviewing the entries we have received the following week.
We are also introducing a video show and tell so that a child from a different group each week can broadcast live on a Friday to talk to the other children.
Some of our children have siblings at home so they are mixing with other young children. Others do not. Whatever the case, one thing we do know is that they are missing their friends. Just as adults are relying on apps like House Party and Zoom to come together, we hope that our video show and tell will help the children to stay in touch.
Small children quickly forget faces and voices so we want to ensure our faces remain familiar to them and that they see their friends
I cannot stress how much this coming term will be a team effort, especially for schools like The Mulberry House who are educating younger children. Now, more than ever, we are relying on the support of our entire school community to make that term as successful as possible for our children. Although we are physically separate, I have never known a time when the importance of being together is more vital.
These days are truly a learning curve for all of us and we can all learn from the resilience of our younger ones who are finding their own ways to cope. Good luck to everyone as we join together and rise to this challenge!