Coronavirus and School Closures: How Edtech Solutions Can Help Keep Primary School Children Learning and Engaged
Now that schools are closed and will probably remain so for some time due to the COVID-19 pandemic, parents are scrambling to figure out how to keep their kids learning. Homeschooling and online studies can be daunting, but educational technology—also known as edtech—can help alleviate the stress for both parents and kids.
Aren't schools already providing online solutions? Yes, but . . .
As "essential businesses," schools are continuing to provide their students access to educational materials. They've done this by cobbling together online resources and perhaps Zoom teaching calls. However, the quality and quantity of online resources vary greatly not only from school to school but from grade to grade. And many of those resources require significant parental guidance, which non-educator parents who just started working from home may be hard-pressed to provide.
Another issue with the online resources schools are offering is that they might not capture students' attention. Boredom can be a particular problem for primary school children who haven't built up much stamina to pay attention to lessons.
Also, schools may be focused on delivering the last 20-30% of their curriculum when a more appropriate goal might be to keep kids engaged and learning. After all, the COVID-19 crisis is already stressful enough for families.
How long will schools be closed?
Since schools have to follow the government's social distancing mandates, the earliest schools will resume in-person classes is May. It's an open question, though, whether schools will reopen at all for the 2019-2020 school year. If schools do reopen, parents have to keep their kids learning in the meantime. And it would be a good idea to line up learning resources for planned school holidays, anyway.
How can edtech solutions help keep kids learning?
Unless their kids' schools are providing a dazzling array of engaging, user-friendly online options, parents will want to seek out other resources. Of course, they can, and should, use offline resources like books, art materials, and puzzles. But educational technology can be invaluable in helping students learn at home effectively. Here are some reasons why:
First of all, edtech can help personalise the learning experience and make it more interactive than traditional teaching, where the "sage on the stage" delivers content. Interactivity breeds engagement and fosters curiosity. Divya Gokulnath, the cofounder of edtech Byju's, believes it's crucial to bring back the "childlike curiosity" in children. "Curiosity is one of the most underrated attributes today, yet one of the most important," she asserts. She adds that adults should pledge ". . . to never curb curiosity and give children a new kind of freedom—the freedom to learn without fear."
Second, edtech helps level the playing field. Explains Shobhit Bhatnager, CEO and cofounder of the edtech Gradeup, access and affordability of quality education is limited by socioeconomic status and geographical boundaries. He adds, "Edtech has emerged as one of the most viable alternatives for democratised access to affordable and quality education."
Finally, quality edtech resources can address the issue of teaching to a set curriculum rather than to a student. According to Bhatnager, edtech "has the potential to shift from being curriculum-centric to becoming student-centric" primarily by enhancing engagement.
A quality edtech offering: GraphoGame
One quality edtech offering is GraphoGame. This academically researched learning app, game, and methodology for teaching kindergarten and primary school children early grade literacy is available in several languages, including English and Chinese. GraphoGame combines Finnish educational and special-needs expertise with cutting-edge neuroscience research.
Fortunately for parents forced into homeschooling by school closures, GraphoGame is, according to the testimonial of a UK primary school teacher, "not reliant on adult support." Other users emphasise how much kids enjoy the game. A kindergarten teacher in France enthuses, "GraphoGame is so helpful for my students; most of them start to read just by playing with this app." For more information, please read more here.
Project Director at GraphoGame