As a preschool parent, the lockdown has brought its own unique set of challenges. It is not that parents of preschoolers are anxious about missing school or learning. It is, after all, preschool and the concepts can be easily reiterated once the academic session starts, even if it means taking a gap year.

No, the challenges at these times have been quite different for preschool parents. Keep the young, curious mind occupied and keeping the child away from too much of videos, cartoons, TV and digital games has been the real challenge.

A second challenge has been that whereas children are at home, parents are either at work or working from home. For those parents who do not have support to keep the child safely occupied through “office time” at home, it has been quite some juggling.

Some parents have therefore, quite gladly welcomed the online classes for an hour or so that preschool across the country have been delivering. It helps children interact with the teacher and with other children. It gives the mind more to be curious about and there is a good amount of laughter, songs, exercises and chatter – and the excitement lasts at least till lunch time. Some preschool provide activity sheets for children to complete post the online class. This takes care of cognitive explorations for the child and perhaps is a more creative opportunity for children than the digital distractions that are available.

For those parent who find themselves short of a laptop or a source of linking their child to digital classes when they are happening; or if there are parents who are sceptical of using so much digital time for the child, even though it is for learning, homeschooling is an option.

We at the Helen O’Grady International Preschool have developed the CrEdo Home Schooling Kit. If you are a parent who loves spending time with your child, if you enjoy participating in the process of learning, CrEdo is a wonderful option that parents can consider. The first part about the home learning kit is that it is extremely simple to use. The content has been designed so that there is no pressure on either parent or child and the curriculum may spill over two days instead of one, if need be.

Staying true to the commitment of build 21st century skills, Helen O’Grady Internationals signature programme – Kindy Drama, a world renowned programme that builds communication skills, creative thinking and confidence in children is offered “free” with the homeschooling kit for each child throughout the year. Another programme that develops Phonics and reading awareness skills is also offered free with the kit to each child. Both these programmes are conducted digitally once a week each of 45 minutes. The rest of the time, the parent and child embark on the learning journey guided by the curricular manuals provided by Helen O’Grady.

A fascinating thing about the kit is also that the parent is assigned a mentor who guides the progress of the parent as the child’s co-learner or teacher.

With the pandemic restricting social interaction with other children, it is quite easy for children to feel lonely. Programmes like CrEdo, besides being creative ways of learning also cement a greater bond between parent and child. The child thus feels more secure with all the time and the fun that the curriculum provided occasion for.

Here are some thoughts to share with parents, as the lockdown seems to continue even beyond September, and many believe that KinderGarten programmes will restart only for the next academic season.

Include your child in Play, Games, Sports and Fitness programmes that you may, as a parent, indulge in. Children require the exercise and the excitement that sports generates. It improves their appetite, it keeps their energy well channelized and most of all, keeps them healthy.

Secondly, please do tell the child stories and sing songs, especially in your mother tongue. Please do not mistake this for digital storytelling or listening to nursery rhymes being played on a stereo set. The human voice telling the story is far, far greater in reaching the child’s heart and mind, than the digital story being shown as a video or songs being sung on the player. We all want our children to learn English. And that will surely happen. It is equally important for children to learn their mother tongue. So stories and songs in your mother tongue help strengthen language development and language learning and if these skills are strongly ingrained the child finds it easy to pick up any language.

Lockdown time, with stories, songs, sports and games and learning with CrEdo or the digital classroom..will definitely be a new, but productive phase of the child’s life. What the child will cherish most of all, probably, is the amount of time that all of you spend together at home as a family.

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