One of the most worrisome aspects of this COVID-19 pandemic is that it has disrupted education for the majority of children across the globe. Many of our Maple Bear students have been unable to return to their schools and are therefore still learning in a virtual environment at home.
This is definitely a challenge, especially for toddlers and preschoolers.
However, it is important to recognize the undeniable benefits of the Maple Bear program being provided to families with young children. Despite the many obstacles, Maple Bear schools have reached out, showing incredible creativity in maintaining affectionate relationships and providing stimulating learning experiences to children at home.
LEARNING DEPENDS ON COMMUNICATION AND SHARING WITH TEACHERS
Maple Bear teachers know that learning depends upon communication and sharing in a welcoming, safe and fun environment. Finding solutions to connect with students through virtual learning has brought out the best in our teachers, because they know maintaining that connection is important to support learning. The infectious enthusiasm and joy our teachers show in working with the children tells them that they are loved, they are important and that school is wonderful.
Only when children’s basic social and emotional needs are met can learning happen. And our teachers know that teamwork between home and school reassures children that all of the adults in their lives are working together to keep them safe. Young children love their teachers and the continued connection to their teachers is very important to them. The many actions by teachers to connect with students and their parents are important to give our children a sense of stability and belonging amidst so much uncertainty. Maple Bear recognizes that while it is important to focus on academics, wellness needs to come first.
FRIENDSHIPS ARE IMPORTANT FOR OBSERVING AND LEARNING SOCIAL SKILLS
It is also important for children to see their friends online and keep those relationships. One of the basic ways children learn is through observing and imitating their peers. Maintaining a strong relationship with their friends is critical as part of learning social skills such as sharing, taking turns, being caring and polite, and following familiar routines.
LEARNING THROUGH THEMES HAS GREATER IMPACT
Our program is theme based and the activities are inter-related with a focus on engaging, participatory, and age appropriate activities. The connection of the songs, stories and games to a theme makes the learning more powerful.
HOME LEARNING PACKAGES ARE SCREEN-FREE AND THEY BRIDGE THE LEARNING GAPS
We know that there was much variation in the learning of children due to differences in internet access and availability of resources. The Maple Bear teachers have prepared home-friendly resources and materials from our curricular program that provides these children with the opportunity to continue their learning at home. Maple Bear teachers communicate directly with these families on a regular basis to offer advice and suggestions for working with this program. These packages of materials will help to minimize learning gaps and to ensure children are ready to transition back to the in-school Maple Bear programs when it is safe to do so.
THROUGH THIS CHALLENGE WE ADAPT AND MAINTAIN A STIMULATING LEARNING ENVIRONMENT
This pandemic will continue to challenge schools but Maple Bear is committed, flexible and creative in finding solutions. We are modelling our own pedagogy by seeking, testing and adopting best practices for this new reality.
We will continue on this path, providing students with a warm, nurturing and stimulating environment, with active engagement, emotional support, and the building of confidence through interaction, activity and a terrific program that children love.