Returning to Phase 2 measures for a few weeks tomorrow is necessary and understandable. Nonetheless, it is dampening news. Although not preferred, most of our children and youth have been able to meet their volunteer tutors online when face to face learning programmes were stopped. One programme that did not stop though was our child development centre for those aged 6 years-old and below. However, for an age group that learns best through play and interaction with others, their learning experience has not been optimal.
Obviously watching videos of animals is not quite the same as a visit to the zoo. Since the circuit-breaker, no outings have been allowed nor have volunteers been allowed to help. The opportunity to meet caring people from different backgrounds is a valuable learning experience that is missed. Thankfully, the community has remained a key stakeholder and we are most grateful for their support in terms of funds, milk, art materials and other gifts.
“Let’s say that the pepper clouding the water in this glass represents germs that will make you sick. Dip your finger into the glass and the pepper sticks to it. Now put some soap on your finger and try again. Tell me what happens now.” We use this activity to help children understand the importance of hand washing and our classroom floor is lined with smiling emojis to mark out where children should sit to maintain a 1 metre safe distance. It is the same emoji system when they are standing in line and luckily, the children have adapted quite happily.
During outdoor play, “IT” is now called “COVID-19” and this has been another way of creating a context for the children to come to terms with the pandemic. “Unlike the pepper or your friend chasing you, the COVID-19 virus is invisible and that’s why it is important to protect ourselves at all times by putting on a mask,” is another message that is constantly repeated. School routines have changed much this past year and apart from ensuring learning is not adversely affected, we have been trying to commemorate milestones like the year-end graduation and cultural festivals accordingly.
Currently, school activities are designed around this coming Mother’s Day and the upcoming close of Ramadan but what are festivals without family and friends? So, by working with the children to prepare gifts for their mothers, we hope to facilitate some joyous moments at their homes. As for Ramadan, we are working with our children to put together a short video of things they would do to celebrate the end of Ramadan that will be shared during a virtual meeting with children from another child development centre. The children from the other centre will also share a presentation and hopefully the spirit of the festival rings true.
Wishing you good health, peace of mind and a joyous Mother’s Day weekend.
“Whoever wants to understand much must play much.” –Gottfried Benn