Co-written with Lucy Jane Loves Learning
Remote learning – who knew this was going to become our new normal. There’s no doubt Kindergarten teachers and students have it the hardest. Not only do the teachers not yet know their students (or how they learn), but the students are most likely not familiar with the school or how it even works!
We have teamed up with fellow Kindy teacher, Lucy Jane Love learning, to bring you these ideas to help you get started on remote learning with your little ones. We have included some simple ways to deliver lessons online that are Kindergarten friendly.
Our suggestions are divided up into four sections: setup considerations, literacy, numeracy and digital options.
We hope they help!
• If starting the year remote learning - Allow plenty of time in the early weeks to get to know your students rather than focusing on ‘teaching’ straight away. Just like in the classroom, there is a transition and settling in period, only it may look a bit different this year.
• Remember that online learning is very different from classroom learning, and many Kindergarten students will be unable to complete the same number of hours at home as they do at school. On the flip side, you have far less behavioural or transitioning considerations (which take up a lot of a Kindergarten day!). Keep this in mind so that you don’t over-plan each day.
• Consider your school and the local community. Are parents likely to be working from home? Do parents/carers usually take an active role in their child’s learning under ordinary schooling circumstances? Does your school (or district) have specific guidelines that you will need to stick to? Taking these things into account can help with planning your delivery mode and expectations.
• Kindergarteners usually come to school with limited reading abilities, so navigating activities (particularly with wordy instructions) will be very difficult if not impossible for them. Incorporating pre-recorded videos of modelled teacher instruction can allow students to re-watch if they missed something. As well as allowing completion of work at a time that will suit their adult helper (rather than having to be online for a live session at a particular time). Pictorial examples with voice recordings are also beneficial.
• Host a live session for parents/carers on how to use your chosen delivery method (whether it be Zoom, Google Classroom, Seesaw etc.) to minimise the inevitable load of questions you will receive.
• Kindergarten students shouldn’t be expected to work online all day, day after day. Try to incorporate meaningful, take home learning packets into your planning. Where possible, we like to provide explicit teaching and instructions online and then refer students to a hands-on activity, workbook or paper and pencil activity if appropriate. Find some helpful activities here.
• Set a required amount of reading and ask students to record the books read in a reading log or reading journal. Additionally, encourage your students to read a text of their choice every day.
• Some authors have given permission for their books to be read aloud to students via Zoom or in another digital form during the pandemic. This is a great way to engage your students each day and can be used as a brain break, a morning welcome or end of day task, or a modelled/shared reading lesson.
• Alternatively, provide a link to a read aloud online from websites such as Storyline Online so your students can hear a story at least once each day.
• Look into some reading apps or websites so that students can gain access to quality literature and for books that are suited to their reading ability.
• Try to provide explicitly modelled writing or phonics lessons where possible. Starfall is a great website for learning each letter sound.
• Keep it simple! Have students write a sentence about their day, about a favourite toy or book or a member of their family.
• Try to provide lots of picture prompts and sentence starters (just as you would in the classroom!)
• Think of ways the students can use objects or toys around the house to incorporate into their writing. For example, if you are learning about animals, have them create an animal out of playdough, building blocks, craft materials or recycled materials that they can then use to spark ideas for their writing.
• It might be helpful to send home a writing book so that students can keep all of their writing in one place. You can have students take a photo of their work and upload it to your chosen platform (the Seesaw app is great for this).
• If possible, send home a pack of materials for each student to use while working at home. This might include things like counters, dice, linking cubes, Base 10 materials, number flashcards, a hundred chart etc.
• Consider what materials students can use at home – toys and books are great for counting, and you can find 2D or 3D shapes around the house or yard! The possibilities are endless.
• Provide fluency worksheets or games that students can use at home. Pick and choose what your students need in regards to building their fluency.
• Consider sending home a small pack of games that you would normally use in the classroom (this tip is useful for literacy games too). It will also allow you to clean out your classroom cupboards and refresh with new hands-on games for when the children are back in the classroom.
Most schools these days have subscriptions to online programs (or you can sign your class up to some of the free ones out there). Take advantage of these sites and apps. Due to the sheer volume out there, it can be overwhelming. In addition to the ones we have already mentioned, here are a few more we recommend:
• BOOM Learning
• Phonics Hero
• GoNoodle (great for when kids need to get up and move their bodies)
• Art Hub for Kids
• Fine motor skill development is crucial for Kindergarten students. Think about activities you can set for them at home to help develop these skills such as forming letters of the alphabet with playdough, creating a pattern using different pieces of pasta, or even helping to hang the washing and to practice using pegs.
• STEM/STEAM activities are an excellent way for students to apply so many elements of their learning to a challenge. It could involve building something from recycled materials. The list of ideas is truly endless, and the good news is they will most likely have many of the materials at home.
· Try independent learning where the student has a choice in the activities they complete. You will have parents that have loads of time to dedicate to their children’s learning and others that are time poor from juggling work and family commitments. Offering ‘independent learning time’ is a good way to combat these differences. By sending home task boards (paper or digital), students and parents can pick and choose what suits their family situation, time limitations, and children’s learning needs. Find some age-appropriate task boards here.
This is a difficult time, to say the least. Hang in there, do your best and as long as the students are at the forefront of your decisions, know you are on the right track.
Need more distance learning information? We have just added some extra help in our Kindergarten Teacher Survival Guide.
We wrote this guide to help answer all the questions you have or didn’t even know you had about being a Kindy teacher! It includes a range of helpful forms and checklists, as well as loads of tips we have learned teaching kindy ourselves over the years! Check it out here.