No doubt the COVID-19 outbreak has changed the education landscape significantly and maybe permanently. Sending children home happened overnight without any warning and preplanning. After the first shock the school leaders have worked hard to establish a new normal by changing their working methods and utilizing digital means.
Now is the time to stop and think what to do next. Even if some countries have or are opening up, experts agree that the future is uncertain, and few believe in a fast return to the "normal". So, conclusions should be made about what the change is all about and what should be done to go ahead:
- First, curriculum objectives and pedagogical principles have not changed and should be followed. Centers that have a curriculum with clear learning objectives for the children have an easier task to adapt as teachers are aware of the children’s learning path and can create pedagogical activities based on the needed next steps.
- Second, engaging parents has been important and now it is critical. Parents need to provide support for their children’s learning at home.
- Third, use of new technology has taken a huge leap forward from being complementary to being mandatory. Experience also shows that centers who have used technology efficiently already earlier have had a quicker transition to new ways of working.
- Forth, educators have been stretched to rethink their working methods. How to maintain social contact? What should be the teaching approach in the new normal? How to organise the daily schedule? How to divide between synchronous training i.e. everybody attending in real time and asynchronous i.e. children working on their own? How to share content? What activities to use? How to engage, motivate and train the parents? How to support children with special needs? How to do assessment and relate the children's learnings to the curriculum? What technology to use as manual routines, pen and paper, written notes etc. are not possible to use anymore.
Three scenarios are generally discussed: Going back to normal; Continue remote teaching; Some form of blended model. As uncertainties remain, many experts suggest that a blended model will likely be the mainstream scenario in many countries. Also, centers, educators and parents all put children's safety as the highest priority - well above lost learning, challenging logistics or financial costs. A blended model can be flexible tuned with safety maintained.
Planning and developing a blended model will require recognizing uncertainties, high flexibility, and continuous learning. Considering the learnings and experience this far, using a flexible technology platform for collaboration and teaching provides a strong foundation for the educators’ new working methods in a way that can be adapted to coming needs.
"With all this in mind, we in Kindiedays have pulled together our solutions for collaboration and pedagogy into a special offering for preschools and centers who quickly want to improve the present remote learning and also be prepared for moving to the new normal in a flexible way"
says Milla Mikkola, CEO and co-founder of Kindiedays.
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PS Join our webinar "Is Early Childhood Education Possible Online?"
June 17th at 3 PM Finnish time in cooperation with CCE Finland and learn more!