No class was safe from the COVID-19 lockdown - even kindergarten students had to rapidly learn how to learn remotely!

An interesting positive result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent switch to remote teaching and learning has been the rise of 1 to 1 devices in our Early Years classrooms. I recently read an article titled ‘Please explain the purpose of online learning for Kindergartners’. I was immediately assaulted with memories of my first online teaching lesson with Kinder classes at Dominic College, Tasmania!

My husband and I were both working from home. Apparently, he could hear every word I was ‘saying’ and stomped down to shut the doors of my room, so he could ‘continue his online meetings and actually hear what the others were saying’!

Needless to say, it was a very interesting experience for everyone involved and felt very much like herding cats every single lesson. I realised that if I wanted to, I would be able to change professions and be an ear, nose and throat specialist - as a direct result of my students realising they could use the video of themselves to check out their body parts!!

Speaking from a classroom practice perspective, the positive result of this experience continues to be seen in my classroom and the others in Kindergarten to Grade 2. We are now finding that our students’ IT skills have greatly improved and with the occasional glitch that may happen when using devices, they are able to problem solve first before needing adult assistance.

Students use their devices to help in their studies during a Kindergarten Japanese lesson.

The students use these devices to interact with the ELLA apps approved by the Australian Government. Allen Sensei explained and regularly supported our students as they explored these apps and practised the vocabulary to ensure correct pronunciation.

The 1 to 1 support they received during remote learning from their families has been an excellent training ground for them to be independent with their device. We are now able to use our online learning platform, Seesaw, to set activities our students can access and complete independently, and our parents can see as soon as they are completed.

Teachers in the Early Years are now also able to share many of our classroom practices with our parents so that they too have an understanding of how and what we teach, allowing them to be replicated at home and therefore, further reinforced.

Our students are now also moving from using the devices as practise or play tools to beginning to create their own responses. During remote learning, students regularly uploaded photos and videos of their work to be discussed, assessed and then have feedback returned to them, provided by their teachers. This procedure has proved to be an invaluable resource for our teachers and parents.

As with all classroom resources, we are careful to ensure a balanced approach to the use of the devices in the classroom. They are an essential tool, just as important as pencil, paper and hands-on equipment to support student learning.

Jane Doyle is the Coordinator of Teaching and Learning for Kindergarn to Grade 2 at Dominic College, Tasmania.