Creating Structure to Enhance Your Children’s Remote Learning Experience

As we continue to support our children’s development through remote learning, here are a few tips to enhance your children’s remote learning experience through creating structure.

Creating Structure

Structure is important to children and can create a sense of normalcy, familiarity and routine. Children feel secure and comfortable when they know what is about to happen and can predict their day.[1] Creating routines also help children to develop a sense of independence as knowing what to expect in their day, children can take actions without being told or prompted by their caregivers.[2] Additionally, structure is particularly helpful for some children with developmental disorders, such as Autism, as routines help them to know what they should expect at each point of the day and therefore, creating a safe and secure environment.[3] The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives in so many ways, and for children, this means a disruption in their familiar school routine. For some children, a disruption in this routine and create and anxiety which can impact their emotional, physical and academic development.[4] Creating structure for children at home that resembles their school routine before COVID-19 can help children you are having challenges with remote learning. Here are a few tips:

  1. Night/Sleep Routines – although children are at home during the COVID-19 pandemic, nighttime routines that include set time for bed should be continued. Children need adequate sleeping times to learn and grow. Week nights, when school is still in session, should continue to be school nights where children are required to go to bed early to get enough sleep for the next school day.
  2. Morning Routines – this includes waking up and preparation for school times where children complete activities to prepare them for school. Eating breakfast, showering, and brushing teeth are all activities that children would do before heading off to school. Creating structure for your children involve maintaining these same activities as children participate in remote learning.
  3. Break Times – children are known for their short attention span. Taking breaks during remote learning can be helpful to your children. According to some experts, children learn best in 30 minutes increments, while younger children need to shift activities every 15 to 20 minutes.[5] Children’s learning can be better supported if they take the necessary breaks during their remote learning. Additionally, breaks can follow the structure of their normal school day. Besides snack and lunch breaks, breaks could include movements or physical activities where children are encouraged to be active. As children are often seated in front of a computer or television screen during remote learning, movement breaks such as jumping, walking, going up and down stairs, could be a little pause during the day to reset your child’s focus and help with their physical activity.

Do you have any tips for remote learning you would like to share? Send us a comment to let us know how you are enhancing your children’s remote learning experience.


[1] https://www.familiesfirstindiana.org/back-to-school-importance-of-structure-and-routine-for-healthy-child-development?locale=en

[2] https://www.familiesfirstindiana.org/back-to-school-importance-of-structure-and-routine-for-healthy-child-development?locale=en

[3] https://www.totalspectrumcare.com/why-routine-is-important-to-children-with-autism-spectrum-disorder/

[4]https://www.cdc.gov/childrensmentalhealth/depression.html#:~:text=Anxiety%20may%20present%20as%20fear,the%20symptoms%20can%20be%20missed.

[5] https://www.cnbc.com/2020/10/01/5-ways-parents-can-help-kids-thrive-amid-remote-learning.html

Early Childhood COVID-19 Resources

Picture source: tmcc.instructure.com

The Early Childhood Commission continues to support the development and wellbeing of our children during COVID-19. We are aware of the challenges facing parents and children and their need for continued support. With this in mind, today’s blog is focused on sharing information about some of the resources and activities that are available to support early childhood development in Jamaica.

The ECC’s COVID Corner

The COVID Corner is available on the ECC’s website and it provides information to support parents and guardians, including, information on the protocols for reopening ECIs; tips and information on COVID-19; activity plans for the 0 to 5 cohort; reading videos and tips for parenting.

Please click the link to access the COVID Corner https://ecc.gov.jm/covid-19-corner/

Live Broadcasts to Support Remote Learning

The ECC presents daily live broadcasts on Television Jamaica’s 1SpotMedia – School Time and Public Broadcasting Corporation Jamaica (PBCJ) TV. The broadcasts are presented by early childhood practitioners based on activity plans developed by the Commission and categorized by age groups. Schedule for the daily broadcasts is as follows:

DayTimeAge GroupMedia
Monday7:30 – 9:00 amAges are rotatedPBCJ
Monday7:30 – 8:30 am0 -2 years oldTVJ/1SpotMedia
Tuesday7:30 – 8:30 am2 years oldTVJ/1SpotMedia
Wednesday7:30 – 8:30 am3 years oldTVJ/1SpotMedia
Thursday7:30 – 8:30 am4 years oldTVJ/1SpotMedia
Friday7:30 – 8:30 am5 years oldTVJ/1SpotMedia

Live broadcasts are streamed on 1SpotMedia and can be accessed at https://www.1spotmedia.com/#!/live-stream/5f371d1df7dec975a30e4fa7 and by clicking on the School Time link. 1SpotMedia requires registration and sign in to access content.

Social Media

The ECC is also very active on social media and posts weekly information on COVID-19. The current focus on COVID-19 feature posts that share information to support the reopening of early childhood institutions. Please follow us on social media to get up-to-the-minute information. Our social media handles are:

Facebook – The Early Childhood Commission https://www.facebook.com/www.ecc.gov.jm/

Twitter – @ECCJA

Instagram – earlychildhoodcommission

COVID-19 Protocols for Reopening ECIs

Picture Source: ECC Communications Department

Today’s blog is the last in the series of blogs outlining the COVID-19 protocols for reopening ECIs as presented in the Reopening Early Childhood Institutions for Children Ages 0-5 Specific Protocols document on the ECC’s website. We presented this series to provide parents, practitioners, principals, ECI owners/operators and the general public with bite-sized information on the specific protocols to be put in place by ECIs to ensure the health and safety of our children, ECI staff, parents and community members.

The protocols were developed by a team of stakeholders including representatives from the Private Sector Organisation of Jamaica (PSOJ), the University of the West Indies (UWI), the ECC and other government partners and were guided by considerations for maintaining COVID-19 protections, children’s psychological and development needs, and the economic viability of Early Childhood Institutions.

As we close out the series, here are a few reminders for maintaining health and safety in ECIs during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • Hands to be washed or sanitized on entry to school and frequently throughout the day; sanitizer must be made with at least 60% ethyl alcohol or 75% isopropyl alcohol or be a recommended product by the MoHW.
  • ECI workers and students must be monitored daily for symptoms of COVID-19 including taking temperature checks upon entry to ECIs and requiring those ill or showing symptoms (fever, shortness of breath, cough) to stay home.
  • There must be an isolation room/corner for children showing symptoms to stay until collected by a parent/guardian, as required by ECC Standards.
  • Teach and engage children in hygiene such as washing hands regularly, covering mouth when coughing and sneezing and not touching face, nose and eyes.
  • Clean and sanitize frequently used surfaces and commonly used areas, including children’s mats, play equipment and toys.
  • Masks are required for entry to school property; masks must cover the nose and mouth fully. Masks are to be worn throughout the day when physical distancing is not possible. Masks can be removed when teachers are physically distanced from children, such as at the front of a classroom or on the playground as facial expression is important for young children’s development.
  • Masks should NOT be worn by children 2 years and under. Children who are 3-5 years of age should also not wear masks as this is not practical.
  • Guideline signs to ensure safety from COVID-19 should be posted and visible for all, including, posters for children.

Please continue to visit the MoHW website https://www.moh.gov.jm/. For additional information on specific COVID-19 protocols for ECIs, please visit the ECC’s website at https://ecc.gov.jm/.

Protocols for Reopening ECIs

This blog follows in the series of Protocols for Reopening ECIs for Children 0 to 5 Yeas Old. The information presented in this blog can be found on the ECC’s website.

Here are some recommended guidelines for the physical layout of ECIs:

  • ECIs should use temporary walls/dividers to divide a room into smaller spaces to serve multiple groups, under limited circumstances and should be approximately 3 4ft high
  • Clearly mark the 6ft spacing between desks, mats, cribs, etc. or as much spacing as is possible
  • When using mats, consider placing children head to toe in order to further reduce the potential for viral spread
  • ECIs should stagger arrival and drop off times and/or plan to limit direct contact with parents as much as possible
  • ECIs should stagger playground and lunch times
  • Parents should be encouraged to provide reusable eating utensils for their children
  • ECIs should have the same types of toys in different colours and allocate a specific colour to a specific group
  • In recognizing that physical distancing is difficult with small children and infants, some suggestions to support physical distancing include, planning activities that do not involve shared objects or toys; and, when possible, moving activities outside to allow for more space.

For updated information on COVID-19, we continue to encourage the public to visit the MoHW website at https://www.moh.gov.jm/. For updates and information on ECD, please visit the ECC website at https://ecc.gov.jm/.


 

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Christmas Wish List

Before the new year approaches, we find ourselves celebrating Christmas Day. My toes curl and my heart in leaping. It is hard to explain, but the song writer was correct: “It is the most wonderful time of the year.” We have been through so much this year but we are still standing strong and we must be thankful. The best way to show how thankful I am, is to add you to my Christmas List.

  • For the children, I wish for you hope and a spirit of resilience and determination to keep pressing on. Always remember a brighter future for this nation begins with you.
  • For the Early Childhood Teachers, Practitioners and Caregivers who defied the odds and embraced the Virtual Learning platform, I wish for you strength, creativity and patience.
  • For our country Jamaica, my wish is the same as yours, I wish for a safe country.
  • For those who lost a love one during the COVID-19 pandemic, I wish for you peace and comfort. 

Try to make the most of what you have this Christmas season. Please return the favour by adding someone else to your wish list. It is by far better to give than to receive.

Guest Blogger: Sophia Stewart, Development Officer

Image: http://www.freepik.com

COVID-19 ECD IMPACT SURVEY

Responses from Principals

The principals of Early Childhood Institutions were asked to complete an online survey that sought to measure the impact of COVID-19 on ECD programmes and assess the training needs of practitioners. A total of 567 principals responded to the Principals’ Survey.

72.5% reported that they are principals of Basic Schools.

7.6 % indicated that they are principals of Infant Departments and 6.7 % indicated that they are principals of Kindergarten and prep schools.

77.1% principals were aware of the distance learning prior to COVID-19 outbreak.

42% indicated that they learnt about distance learning via the internet.

28.2% indicated that they learnt about distance learning from watching television and 13.6% from interactive sessions.

According to the results, majority of principals (95.2%) indicated that their ECIs’ provided remote curriculum instructions for parents and children to follow.

The survey also revealed that 94.5% of principals uses WhatsApp to provide remote curriculum instructions and activities.

Based on the nature of the responses, it was further revealed that principals used more than one medium to provide curriculum instructions and activities. Other popular mediums included emails, Google classroom, Zoom and ECC website.


72.3% of principals indicated that learning instructions is sent to parents daily, 8.1 indicated instructions were sent once per week, 8% twice per week and 5.4% every other day.

64% principals indicated that their staff have the technical skills to integrate digital services in curriculum instructions. However, majority of principals indicated that their staff needed additional training in ICT and Curriculum.

June 2020

COVID-19 ECD Impact Survey

Responses from Practitioners

A total of 1,135 practitioners responded to the questionnaire, 97.7% were females. Majority of the practitioners (31.7%) age ranged from 30-39, 29.8% ranged from 40-49, 18.8% ranged from 5059 and 13.7% ranged from 21-29 years. 

The data revealed that majority of practitioners (47.5%) were trained at the vocational level, 25.6% were trained at the Bachelors level, while 20.4% indicated that they had a Diploma in Education.  

97.5% practitioners revealed that they were providing remote curriculum instructions from students, this is in comparison to 95.2% of principals who indicated that their ECIs’ provided remote curriculum instructions for parents and children. The data also revealed that most practitioners (95.2%) uses WhatsApp as the primary medium for communicating with parents. 16.4% indicated that they used Zoom and 18.8 % indicated that they used the ECC Website.  

The findings also revealed that, 74.5 % practitioners compared to 72.3% of principals indicated that learning instructions is sent to parents on a daily, while 7.1% indicated instructions were sent once per week, 7.7% every other day and 6.8% twice per week.

Based on the interactions with children on an online platform 83.3% practitioners indicated that students are making progress, some practitioners however expressed concerns about parents completing assignments for children.  

Majority of practitioners 81.3% indicated that they have the technical skills to integrate digital services in curriculum instructions. However, 19%   indicated that they did not have the technical skills to integrate digital services in curriculum instructions and would require additional training in Information Communication Technology (ICT), for example, Zoom, Google Classroom and Microsoft Office.

92.7% practitioners were aware of the Activity Plans posted on the ECC Website. However,

84.8% indicated that they shared the activity plans posted on the ECC Website with parents. 

49.8% of practitioners indicated that they only had internet access on their cell phones, 46.2% revealed that they had unlimited broadband access and 2% had no internet access. 

COVID-19 ECD Impact Survey

RESPONSES FROM PARENTS

A total of 3,003 parents responded to the questionnaire, 93.6% were females. Majority of the parents aged ranged from 30-39 and 40.2% ranged from 21-29.

The findings revealed that 97.8% of parents had children between the ages of 0-8 years old. Majority of parents 94.2% indicated that their child received educational activities from their ECI. 95.4% revealed that WhatsApp was the primary medium used for communication between parents and teachers. Seventeen percent indicated that their child’s teacher communicated via zoom and 6% indicated that they were referred to the ECC website for activities.

Majority of parents 52.6% indicated that they only had internet access via their cell phones. 52% indicated that they had limited data access to use the internet. 78.4% found the current method of communication to be effective to their child’s progress.

53.7% parents indicated that they are very satisfied with the method of communication used by the child’s ECI.

June 2020

Reopening ECIs – Keeping Children Safe in the Classroom

As a continuation from last week’s blog, this article outlines further protocols for activities at ECIs based on the Reopening Early Childhood Institutions For Children Ages 0-5 Specific Protocols document which can be found on the ECC’s website.

Protocols for Keeping Children Safe

  • ECIs should thoroughly clean and sanitize shelves, storage boxes, chairs, desks, toys, door knobs, stationery, potty, and any high-touch/easily accessible items/areas etc. at least twice a day.
  • All bathrooms should be cleaned and disinfected regularly throughout the day, multiple times throughout the day
  • Mats should be cleaned and sanitised after each use
  • High-touch areas on swing sets, monkey bars, see-saws, play houses, etc. should be cleaned daily
  • Cleaning products should not be used near children, and staff should ensure that there is adequate ventilation when using these products to prevent children from inhaling toxic fumes
  • Cleaning products should be safely stored away from children’s access, as required by ECC Standards
  • Children’s clothes should be changed if they become soiled and hands should be washed immediately after. Soiled clothes should be placed in a plastic bag and washed as soon as possible
  • Workers to supervise and hold bottles for infants who are not yet able to hold their own bottle to reduce the risk of choking.
  • ECI workers should use blankets or cloths over clothing when holding infants and toddlers and they should change the blankets or cloths used between children.
  • Children must not share food, feeding utensils, soothers, bottles, sippy cups, etc. These items should be labeled with the child’s name to discourage accidental sharing.

We continue to encourage the public to visit the MoHW website https://www.moh.gov.jm/ and the ECC website https://ecc.gov.jm/ for more information.


Reopening ECIs – Activities

This blog post follows the series on reopening ECIs safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. The information outlined in this post is taken directly from the Reopening Early Childhood Institutions For Children Ages 0-5 Specific Protocols document which can be found on the ECC’s website.

Protocols for Activities at Early Childhood Institutions to Keep Children Safe:

  • For gate/entrance pick-up and drop-off of children
  • 1-2 employees should operate child pick-up and drop-off by escorting all children to and from their classroom
  • ECIs should limit parent and visitor entry into the facility
  • Children should be observed for signs or symptoms of illness, such as cough, sore throat, flushed cheeks fatigue or extreme fussiness.
  • Temperature should be taken of ill children and they should be isolated immediately until parents can collect the child.
  • Records and logs of the child’s temperature and symptoms taken each day
  • Children should be frequently supervised while sanitising and/or washing their hands throughout the day
  • ECIs should have fun and engaging daily hygiene lessons to teach children:
    • how to wash their hands properly for 20 seconds
    • how to use sanitizer
    • how to cough or sneeze into their elbow or into a tissue which is discarded into a closed bin
    • how to wash their hands and/or sanitise immediately after coughing or sneezing;
    • how to avoid touching mouth, eyes and nose
    • how to avoid touching other children and their belongings
  • ECIs should eliminate center-wide family events and field trips
  • Children must not be allowed to share toys they can put in their mouth, as required by ECC
  • standards
  • Personal toys that are mouthed should be taken home daily for cleaning
  • Toys that are accidentally mouthed must be washed and disinfected, as required by ECC standards
  • ECIs should remove toys that cannot be sanitized, example, stuffed animals, fabric toys, cardboard puzzles etc.
  • ECIs should discard sensory play items, such as cornmeal and water, after single use.
  • ECIs should temporarily eliminate the use of play dough and sand pits
  • ECIs should eliminate high contact sports or activities such as hand games
  • Each group of children should have designated equipment (e.g., balls, loose equipment) or equipment should be cleaned and sanitised between group use.