Newspaper- Discover Early Years Program - Kindergarten
The American International School of Kingston, hosted a virtual open house for their Early Years Program last Wednesday, June 3rd. The webinar introduced the public to the schools teaching methods, core values, and use of technology.
Deputy Head of School, Anna Wallace, began the discussion by outlining AISK beliefs on effective teaching, creativity, critical thinking, empowerment and technology by speaking of the school’s dedication to recruiting and keeping well-trained teachers, providing a technologically forward classroom, and ensuring that children are happy.
Teaching and Learning Director, Sylvia Browne, expanded on how AISK keeps students engaged and learning. At AISK they encourage students to be aware of their thinking by having them lead the learning process. This is done with guided discussions that encourage students to question. Ms.Edwards, one of our early childhood teachers at AISK, followed this with an example - her students create the rules for her classroom after having numerous conversations on why rules exist and why they are important.
AISK uses the High Scope curriculum which encourages students to plan, do and review. While students direct their learning process, teachers are constantly evaluating the children's level of communication and their ability to think critically, so that they can adjust and find the best method to influence growth in those areas.
Aside from the school’s pedagogy, parents were able to hear about its use of technology. AISK is a one to one school, which means that each student has their own device - in the case of the Early Years Program each child has an iPad. The teachers make use of the iPads by using varied software programs to teach different concepts, and they create opportunities for the students to incorporate technology into their learning projects.
Along with this AISK focuses on differentiated learning and the importance of reading comprehension. When it comes to differentiated learning, their teachers make sure that they know the individual level of each student. This helps them to challenge a strong reader with more difficult work or to slow things down for a student who needs a little more time, and of course, this is assisted by the software available to the educators.
And when it comes to learning how to read, the school not only teaches students how to decode but also how to understand what the words mean and what the message is. The Early childhood program is the foundation for learning how to read in kindergarten, so it’s so important that this foundation is set correctly, so AISK ensures that happens through early exposure.
By the end of the webinar, parents got to hear about AISK’s use of technology, their teaching beliefs, how they implement our teaching methods and how they continue to stretch themselves through constant training.
Distance Learning: I Just Don't Have the Patience Strategies to get some
I can imagine, when there is a lack of patience in the house it just leads to more tension and more stress than is necessary” stated Lisa Harvey, the middle and elementary school counsellor at AISK. As she mouthed these words, it seemed to be the crux of the matter. The matter being that impatience only worsens situations.
As I mulled over this, I realized that impatience doesn’t only affect the perpetrator. It also affects the one receiving the action. So, I couldn’t help but think about the impact of impatient parents on their children.
Parents have a right to feel overwhelmed. COVID-19 has people hyper-aware of possible layoffs and there is a constant concern about the health and well-being of loved ones. Add distance learning to the mix and it feels unbearable.
Yet parents must set aside time for their children. Who are also learning to adapt to this new home school routine. So, I asked Lisa, “Does this tension and stress lead to a lack of communication that affects the relationship between the parent and child ?”. She replied “Yeah, sure. When kids don’t feel supported by their parents or caregivers, they might internalize it or act out more. And this can look like resistance to schoolwork or disobeying rules they had previously followed.”.So impatience does, in fact, have a negative effect on relationship - the most important familial building block during a quarantine period. So, how do we protect our relationships? How do we manage impatience and instead train ourselves in patience?
The experts have varying solutions. However, they all agree that parents have to carve out time for themselves and protect their relationship with their child. Parents need alone time to reflect on two things: 1. Their own daily stressors and 2. Their frustrations with distance learning. Once parents do this, they can process what they're going through and adjust by coming up with solutions.
But what are some of the problems associated with distance learning? AISK Mother and CEO of AIM Educational Services, Nicole McLaren Campbell, says one issue is the sheer feeling of overwhelm, overwhelming to the point of not being able to see or take advantage of the resources one has available. Another is being unaccustomed to the increased level of involvement in your child’s learning. And yet another is the inability to accept some of the limitations your child might have. Kimberly Edwards, an elementary school teacher at AISK, also brings two more concerns to the forefront. The difficulty parents have balancing their work and distance learning, and their frustration with technology. And to add to these, parents are also tired, uncertain of whether distance learning is working at all, and stretched beyond the period of time they expected to do this.
"However, parents will have different challenges with distance learning based on their child’s gender, temperament, and age", states Chalanie Stiebel, AISK’s high school counsellor. And it's the parents of younger students at the elementary level that face the most difficulty. With this in mind, Kimberly Edwards gives parents the following advice. Parents need to reach out to teachers. Teachers understand that the entire world is in crisis, and they want to help in whatever way they can. Parents should create a routine that works for their family. And this may mean that school has to happen after work at 6:00 pm. Edwards also encourages parents to create reward systems and buddy groups for their children, so that they can continue to include play in learning. And most importantly parents have to use parental discernment to identify what activities and work have to be completed. They don’t have to have their children finish all distance learning assignments. When children return to school teachers will account for the gap in time the pandemic has caused.
Though Edwards has provided implementable methods to ease the burden that leads to frustration and hence impatience, counsellors Harvey and Stiebel stress that no one is failing in COVID-19 distance learning. Distance learning will look different for different families, and some classwork and homework won’t be completed and that is okay. Instead, parents should take it day by day, and when they feel that frustration and impatience coming on, they should stop - take a walk, watch a movie, cuddle with their children, and deemphasize the academics. Mothers and Fathers should take the focus off their child’s accumulation of content, and instead choose to protect the child's love of learning and their relationship with them - those will always be more important than keeping them "on track."
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