Catching-up with math and literacy foundations through playful learning at the right level
By MARIA ZANDT
Our idea focuses on an integrated approach combining virtual teacher training on playful basic math and literacy teaching methods and low-technology support to families for continued learning at home. This shall allow children to catch-up with basic math and literacy skils after COVID19 related school closures and establish a stronger link between primary schools and families. Based on the long-standing experience and proven impact of the Teaching at the Right Level methodology (by Pratham) as well as inspirations of a Montessori approach to learning, our idea has been tested on a small scale in Kenya and is about to be piloted in rural Ethiopia.
The COVID19 pandemic and its related school closures has aggravated already existing challenges in Ethiopian primary schools: Widely differing learning levels in a class; frequent drop-outs and a lack of learning materials. To ensure that all children master basic math and language skills is key for children to remain on track in their education. Playful learning methods in the classroom and at home make teaching and learning more child-centred, increase motivation and allow for differentiated learning at the right level.
The objectives of our idea are to increase:
Catch-up effects of primary school children in basic language and math learning
Teachers´ capacities in hands-on learning methodologies teaching children at the right level
Parental engagement to foster continued learning at home.
The program is based on a holistic approach with teachers, parents and community working together to foster foundational math and literacy learning at the right level for each child.
Teachers (Grade 1-5) will be trained on how to teach basic math and language skills through playful methods and at differentiated levels. The practice-oriented six-week training uses Telegram and is based on teacher peer-learning groups in each school. The method empowers teachers to take ownership of their learning and teaching and to create their own teaching aids based on locally available recycled and natural materials. It and has the potential of scale with trainings being supported remotely.
Teachers will connect with parents in a parent workshop on playful learning, where parents can sign-up to receive weekly SMS- and/ or voice messages with learning activities that empower them to implement easy-to-do learning activities at home using available materials within and around the house.
Teaching at the Right Level is a proven intervention that has shown a significant impact on primary school children catching up with their grade-level in math and literacy (teachingattherightlevel.org). At the same time, we have seen in our small scale test in schools in Kenya, how remote learning methodologies for teachers based on peer-learning in a teacher group can have a positive impact on teacher motivation and ownership. The possibilities to create teaching and learning materials out of locally available natural and recycled materials remidiates the cronical lack of learning and teaching materials in schools and in families across many developing countries.
Different pilots during the COVID19 school closures have shown the immense potential of continued learning at home supported by low-tech technologies, such as SMS and vocie message. (e.g. https://www.young1ove.org/covid-19response) A closer link between learning in the classroom and at home beyond the COVID19 crisis could have a positive impact on learning outcomes and lower drop-out rates with parents realising the value of education.
Adopt & Adapt
The methodology leveraging the power of remote training, coaching and learning support can easily be adapted to different types of contexts, languages and curricula. Training and family support being done remotely, important costs can be saved. Teacher learning groups would require one teacher to have access to mobile data to download the weekly low-data training content. Teacher learning groups are supported by a trainer/ coach.