THE MAIN OF Epsom Elementary School in St Mary’s, Carleta Thomas-Douglas, claimed that while online education is not ideal for young children, its effectiveness could improve dramatically if parents are more involved in the process.
“Some don’t have the patience to do the activities with the kids and some parents think it’s not their duty or that they can’t get by, some just don’t know how. It is a very difficult task for us as early childhood teachers because most of the time we cannot get in touch with the parents and it means that the pupils will not connect to the internet ”, he said. she explained.
Further, she explained that when printed materials are distributed, not all of them are returned for grading.
“I tried to motivate parents to work with us, because the only way to facilitate them is online mode,” she said, adding that the school’s population is 27, including seven new students.
Thomas-Douglas predicts that returning students will do better in the online environment than new three-year-olds.
“They really need a face to face experience because they’ve never been in a classroom and all they know is playing,” she lamented. Five students have recently moved to grade one, but only three are fully equipped to follow the primary school curriculum.
Meanwhile, the director of the Judz Kidz Play Center in Portmore, St Catherine, Judith Smith, stressed that distance learning was never intended for children who have just entered the school system.
“Students don’t respond well to online lessons and that has been a challenge. In early childhood, kids really learn best through interaction and they also learn best when they see the instructor, ”she explained.
Smith felt the situation is more serious for parents who do not have the privilege of working from home.
“If all parents, caregivers and teachers are immunized, babies will be doing well in school,” Smith said.
A relative of St Mary’s, who asked not to be named, said she was worried about her six-year-old daughter who enrolled in second grade this month. “She’s not quite ready to move on. She did not have a face-to-face class in first year and for the last part of basic school she was at home, ”lamented the mother.
The self-employed mother pointed out that it was a difficult balance between earning an income and taking on the role of a teacher at home.
“Most of the time I’m not home to help her, I can’t ask anyone to supervise her and her older sister has to attend her online course,” she added.
Kayla Beckford-Harrison’s three-year-old daughter started basic school online, until further guidance was given by the Department of Education.
“At three years old, my main concern is his level of concentration. How are they going to engage it online? We had an online class reunion through Zoom and that was one of the main concerns for parents, ”said the mother.
The flexibility of her work will allow the mother to be present during her daughter’s sessions while her eight-year-old son, who has developed a certain autonomy, will attend classes alone.
Brown’s Basic School in Freetown, Clarendon, has 136 students, many of whom face a lack of access to devices or the internet. Twenty-one students are newly enrolled.
Principal Shelia Brown said The gleaner that some students have moved on to primary level ready to dive into the new curriculum, while others will have to catch up.
She explained that students in grades 2 and 3, who have adequate resources, will have a better understanding of the content taught online.
Priority to Pfizer vaccine
Jamaican students aged 12 and older have been prioritized for COVID-19 vaccination with two doses of Pfizer, which are given three weeks apart.
“With God’s help, I don’t believe anything will happen to babies. What we need to do is follow the protocols and make sure we have isolation areas. These children, especially three-year-olds, need someone to guide them, ”said Brown, adding that the uptake of vaccination among eligible groups is also a critical factor in protecting young children.
Early Childhood Commission Executive Director Karlene DeGrasse-Deslandes said The gleaner that the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “devastating impact” on the early childhood sector.
She explained that while online learning is a practical solution for children, it is not an effective method of involving children under six.