“ACG has strived to close the gap between face-to-face school and virtual school, and they’ve done that really well,” says Gavin’s mum Erawaty.
“Teachers make virtual schooling fun and give clear directions on what needs to be done for each activity. Each student receives a student pack which aligns with the yearly study plan, so Gavin has everything at home exactly as if he was in class. That makes virtual kindergarten feel much more like the face-to-face sessions.”
ACG School Jakarta has been running virtual kindergarten since COVID-19 measures were introduced earlier this year, initially pre-recording lessons so children could work at their own pace. However, a fresh academic year has brought with it a fresh approach to learning, most of which is now conducted in real time.
Says Senior Teacher Early Learning Vanessa Ellison, “We now deliver most lessons synchronously which means we follow our normal school schedule and invite children to a live Zoom session with their teachers for each area of learning throughout the day. Children complete follow up activities and submit their work via Seesaw for feedback.”
Synchronous delivery of virtual school provides students with much needed daily structure, and they’ve responded well to the changes.
“Children thrive off having a routine and our online programme gives them that. They can socialise with others (albeit virtually), learn new skills, develop new knowledge and make progress.
“I’m really proud of my Kindergarten team for working so collaboratively to ensure that we stay true to our student-centred Reggio inspired philosophy and our Primary Years Programme (PYP) inquiry based approach to delivering the curriculum. Students learn through exploration and have voice, choice and ownership in how they learn.”
Vanessa and her team have worked hard to plan and deliver high quality PYP units of inquiry which take into account the individual interests of students, ensuring they enjoy their online learning and make good progress in all areas. Zoom sessions are kept to a maximum of 20 minutes, and classes are pacey, engaging and fun.
“I teach online from different areas of the classroom, so if it’s a language activity I might sit in the reading den, or a number activity I’ll present the lesson in the maths area. Our Kindergarten classroom is a really special place and the children have had many virtual tours of our wonderful learning areas. Their faces light up with excitement when I share all the amazing things they will do, use and play with when they return to school. They’re just so excited to get back in here and have fun with their friends – the Kindergarten team feel exactly the same!”
Vanessa admits adjusting to the virtual classroom was challenging at first, but now children and adults alike are taking it in their stride.
“I’m so used to building that strong, caring class community face-to-face through our everyday contact, our play, our fun and our laughter. For students to get to know their teachers and classmates through a screen wasn’t always easy. But having said that, we’ve all learnt a lot and I couldn’t be prouder of how amazing my students, parents and caregivers have been. They’ve adapted to the situation; they’ve made special friendships on screen and they’ve grown in confidence. I’ve always believed that children are resilient and I think this experience has shown just how resilient they can be.”
Scarlett Owen is one of the many students who has transitioned seamlessly into lockdown and virtual learning. In fact, according to mum Olivia, she’s loving it.
“Scarlett is excited to see her teachers every day and is always happy to engage with the other students. I’ve been impressed by the level of creativity and variety of challenges in each class. Each subject is well structured and Seesaw is a fantastic platform for sharing, learning and gaining feedback,” says Olivia.
“Virtual school for Scarlett has been such a positive experience and that is down to the professionalism and dedication of the ACG teachers to deliver fun and challenging activities every day.”