It was a big change for most of us when the pandemic hit. Teachers had to get creative with remote teaching, parents had to make time for home schooling, and students suddenly had to be online every day. Interacting and communicating online however, is not as easy as it sounds. Preparing and delivering online learning for young children is not the same as for older children and adults. Concentration spans are shorter. Active engagement and first-hand experience are more important and yet so much more difficult to achieve.
For families, the provision of good quality technology isn’t evenly spread, and many children didn’t have the opportunities to engage at the level desired. Parents working from home also had to manage their own work life with intervention and support for their child’s learning. Despite this many schools the used online platforms for everyday teaching and learning. As we have emerged from the pandemic many schools have maintained their platforms, and based on the lessons learned, continued to use them in new and inspirational ways. For delivering effective online safety teaching, for supporting delivery of the Relationships Education curriculum, to improve well-being and for new and efficient ways of supporting home learning.
Online safety has long been taught in primary schools. But many teachers have expressed concerns about the effectiveness of it. They have battled the inexorable rise of Fortnite, Tik Tok and Whatsapp among primary-aged children whilst trying to give messages about online behaviour and how to stay safe. But they’ve done so with limited resources or opportunities to really engage children in online activity. The pandemic and the growth in the use of online platforms has changed that.
The ability to enable children to communicate and collaborate in online spaces where risk can be minimised, managed and extended in age-appropriate ways has not been lost on many of our DB Primary customers. They have increased their use of DB Primary post-pandemic to ensure that children can learn about online safety with an element of first-hand practice at its core. The use of email, blogs, wikis alongside the quality resources in the learning library has enabled schools to further develop their online safety curriculum.
The pandemic seriously impacted and delayed the introduction of Relationships Education within the curriculum. Pre-pandemic it was the most significant area of curriculum development for 20 years, but it became a distant for many schools as they sought to find their way through the ‘new normal.’
Many of our DB Primary customers however have turned to the platform post pandemic as a significant way to support the Relationships Education curriculum. Friendship, relationships, and respect online must be taught, and children require first-hand opportunities to explore the concepts and develop their understanding. DB Primary offers a great deal of opportunities for developing online skills, knowledge and understanding for children. Active use of the platform, supported by effective teacher intervention significantly impacts students when it comes to developing understanding how to behave and stay safe online.
This understanding of how a platform may be used to teach online safety and online relationships developed throughout the pandemic has transferred into classroom practice as children have returned to class. Several of our schools now have programmes that utilise the communication and collaboration tools to further develop children’s knowledge and skills in these core areas. Supported by the quality resources these programmes ensure children have first-hand opportunities to develop their understanding.
As part of our on-going development programme the platform was recently updated with several new lessons in relationships education. With headlines such as Using email to develop online friendships, Rules for having online friends, Online respect in emails, Forum rules and many more, these lesson plans may be used to inspire discussion on the topics and be useful to further help children understand the underlying concepts.
Throughout the pandemic school reported how they were using DB Primary to support children’s well-being and their emotional and mental health. They set up activities for no other reason than connecting children and the school community. They saw opportunities in the use of blogs and shared pages. They posted videos and shared children’s activity and successes.
Many schools have continued to use DB Primary for such purposes including sharing their celebration assemblies online in secure spaces, using the communication tools for activities such as star of the week and utilising the Rewards system to support and encourage children.
After a year in which home learning and remote learning became the norm the tools that supported it most have continued to be of value post-pandemic.
Schools have seen growth of the use of the Task tool to provide home learning activity. A key resource during lockdown the tool has maintained its value as a way to provide home learning activity. It may be used simply to allow children to submit work or in more sophisticated ways by combining a variety of resources to provide a rich learning activity.
The Learning Library continues to be a resource that supports in-class learning, learning pathways, targeted home learning or self-directed learning.
We have seen DB Primary customers continue to use the platform as the remote learning-phase of lockdowns has been exited through a return to ways that they previously had used the platform. But we have also seen some schools develop new, innovative ways of using it. Whatever benefits the platform is bringing whether it is delivering curriculum change or supporting home -learning the on-going use is supporting children’s current learning and means they will be better placed should we ever return to lockdown again.
For more inspiration on how DB Primary can be used now that your students are back in the classroom, please contact us.