After more than a week of home-based learning during circuit breaker, everyone has been making major adjustments in their daily routine and schedule – with the kids around.
As someone familiar with handling dozens of preschoolers for eight hours on a daily basis, Janelle Ng is a preschool teacher who has been teaching for 3 years and is currently in Bethany Child Care Center. We had a chat with her for a peek on what a typical day might look like for a preschool teacher during the circuit breaker and hear her advice about home-based learning (HBL).
Day in the Life of Preschool Teacher during Circuit Breaker
Here is the day in the life of preschool teacher who is working remotely.
8 am: The day still starts bright and early as Janelle starts by setting up the virtual classrooms.
When Janelle first heard about the HBL situation, it was a race against time to figure out how to accommodate to the new measures of the suspension of services by preschools in Singapore.
“There were a lot of unknowns about how home-based learning would occur in the Preschool Sector especially with young children and I was quite worried that I wasn’t able to complete everything in such a short period of time. There were a lot of sleepless nights before the circuit breaker that we had to use for planning and preparation, as well as meet-ups with the team of teachers to create a structure for navigating home-based learning.”
She also shared that during the initial period, they had to wait for guidance from the Early Childhood Development Agency on how to handle the school closure and assist students whose parents were in essential services.
“We also needed to brief parents on getting familiar with the new technology as well as navigating how to come up with activities that included curriculum learning objectives, while supporting parents even as they worked from home.”
9am: Janelle signs in to a Zoom chat room early to ensure that she is there to greet the kids
To ensure that her students maximise their learning from home, she created a home-kit for them with material and facilitation instructions. Resources, along with instructions, were made available on a Google Drive for parents to view and download.
“I prepped A LOT of materials for them to use.” she shares with a laugh. “I chose activities that were fairly simple for independent learning such as play dough and no-mess paint bags, so that if parents could not facilitate, they could just keep an eye on the child while they worked, but the child would still gain the learning experiences.”
Janelle is mindful to include activities that are relevant to a home environment as part of her lessons. These include teaching lessons on “I can help my parents” paired with a suggested activity of having them to do household chores with their parents – a valuable parent-child bonding experience. Ultimately, these lessons are intended to allow parents and children many open-ended opportunities to explore and bond.
10 am: Helping to host another online lesson and using that time to troubleshoot for future lessons.
There were major challenges along the way such as the safety and security issues that came up when using technology and Zoom chat rooms. It was yet another race against time to researching and come up with security measures to alleviate the concerns of parents.
“It’s always tough when we have to communicate with parents when changes are made within a short time frame as we are all still learning along the way. It’s pretty discouraging when parents make unreasonable demands, or when they don’t cooperate with the HBL system.”
12 pm: Breaking for lunch
2 pm: Meeting with other teachers and principal to check-in and receive feedback for the day
4 pm: Receive and consolidate materials for lessons the next day.
Despite the moments of struggle, there are still many positive and encouraging moments as a preschool teacher in this time.
“Seeing the children adapting to and enjoying the lessons conducted online is a huge morale booster. I also really love receiving the pictures that parents send in of children completing and enjoying the activities,” said Janelle.
She also shared that she was encouraged by her fellow educators collectively stepping out of their comfort zones to plan effective lessons.
“The late nights staying back and the many meetings was a valuable learning process as we found ourselves discussing challenges, making mistakes, reflecting and brainstorming new ways that would work. We exchanged ideas and tips on social media too. This collective effort was very heart-warming as we knew that we were in it together ultimately for the benefit of the child.”