Posted on 04/30/2020 at 12:45 PM by Blog Experts

Who would have thought we’d be teaching children virtually and distantly, but here we are.  If this could potentially be another way of teaching in the future, we need to be mindful of what works well with young children and what doesn’t.  

Let’s begin with what works well.

Young children learn through experiences, so we need to make sure that when we’re providing learning opportunities with them they are able to be hands-on.  It’s ok to make forts, cook, have puppet shows, build things, and create things.  And it’s also ok for them to see you as human.  Sometimes the phone will ring or a person or pet pops in the room when you are providing a virtual learning experience.  Seeing how you deal with little inconveniences helps them build their resiliency as you model your behavior for them.  

Young children learn by connecting with people.  They have to know you are “there” for them.  Find a way virtually to make those connections; notice them; comment about them.  If a child doesn’t have access to a virtual setting, find a different way.  When children are used to a supportive teacher and classroom and it suddenly is taken from them, they are feeling a sense of loss.  Remember that you know them, their likes and dislikes.  Use parents’ knowledge of their children to supply you with information you don’t know.  Then connect.  Make them feel special and loved.  Let them know that they matter to you.  

Children like routine.  It’s comforting and brings down stress levels.  If there is a favorite song, book, or dance routine - do it.  If you’re providing virtual learning, have a routine.  Visual schedules are still important.  Encourage families to have routines.  Share with them the power it has with behavior.  

Involve families without putting a heavy load on them.  Use times like this to educate them on how children learn through playing, having conversations, and hands-on activities.  Let them know it’s ok to tell their child to “go play.”  Encourage families to have a “yes space” for their child.  A place the child may go and participate in activities that is safe, accessible and geared just for him or her.  It could be a playroom, a bedroom, or a space under the dining room table.  Let families know the learning you are providing is not so much about providing a lesson to kids.  It’s about providing something that will bring the children and families joy, something they can do together.  Real learning occurs when it’s joyful.  

As for those things that don’t work well:

Don’t send worksheets and rote learning activities.  Young children don’t learn that way.  Don’t give into the pressure you might feel because parents are wanting worksheets and upper grades are doing it.  Let people know that you are providing your students meaningful learning experiences that build the framework for all future learning.  Worksheets aren’t able to replicate that.   

Here’s a couple of quotes to leave you with:  

“Many teachers spend their time searching for activities.  The best teachers spend their time creating experiences.”  Dr. Nathan Lang-Raad  

“Experience is not the best teacher, it’s the only teacher.”  Bev Bos

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