Last night Tes Scotland took part in a virtual meeting of over half a dozen early years teachers from all over Scotland, who shared what they had learned so far about learning in lockdown for the youngest primary children.
Tips for teaching early years in lockdown
Here are their top tips:
Don’t forget about play
Parents, early years teachers are finding, are keen to get their hands on worksheets but the teachers stress that a lot of the learning in the early years is play-based, not desk-based. One teacher, instead of setting a paper-based task to learn about money, or linking parents to online games, asked her pupils to create their own toy shop, stocked with their own toys. The children priced up and labelled the items and invited family members to browse and make some purchases.
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Ask families to share learning privately, not publicly
Sharing the learning taking place at home publicly on online forums can lead to parents becoming competitive – something that can put families off sharing at all. One teacher found that engagement improved hugely when feedback was private and shared only with her. Another school found that creating a forum where families could talk about the challenges of home learning worked well because it was less likely to lead to one-upmanship, with the focus on encouraging and supporting each other.
Try recording feedback
Teachers at all ages and stages have started to sing the praises of audio feedback as a time saver and a more personal way to engage with pupils. But one early years teacher pointed out that recording feedback can be even more powerful for children who cannot yet read. This, they said, opened up lines of communication directly with children, and in some cases led to back and forth exchanges.
Storytime is still a hit (even if it’s prerecorded)
One school had surveyed its children and found that for those in the early years, their favourite part of the day is storytime. A recording of one of the school's four P1 teachers reading a story is posted daily for children to sit and listen to.
Set activities the whole family can take part in
Families with more than one child in primary are often having to juggle lots of different tasks set by different teachers. One school found that suggesting activities that the whole family could take part in, irrespective of the age of the children, took the pressure off. The focus was often on outdoor learning.