Virtual circle time: A strategy for teaching preschoolers online

COVID-19 pandemic is a very different kind of crisis. It has reduced social interaction from young children’s lives. It also limited the ways to discover the physical world outside. This pandemic was a difficult time for parents at home. And now it would be even more difficult to help children transit to school considering the rising anxiety among preschoolers. Coming to teachers, conducting virtual sessions at home was always a tough task. Aaliya and her colleagues found it equally difficult to generate new ideas to grab and retain student attention during the online sessions. With her experiences of virtual sessions, she has come up with some unique ideas for conducting virtual circle time with preschoolers.

Make them move:

When children get opportunities to alter between movement and stillness, they learn to self-regulate themselves. So Aaliya incorporates different music and movement activities for her preschoolers as part of her virtual circle time. With these she aims to help children improve balance, co-ordination and rhythm in their bodies. It also helps them to be aware about the various movements and body positions. Dancing activates their brain and helps them to control their body movements. Aaliya has observed that whenever she informs her students about having music and movement time, the joy returns on their face. And hence this has become one of their favourite Virtual circle time activities. Also a tip here from Aaliya – do not forget to put children on spotlight over zoom because they loving seeing themselves on limelight.

Story time:

Reading a story or narrating a one – any of these becomes an extremely engaging circle time activity online. Whenever Aaliya reads a book online to her preschoolers, she keeps the e-copy or the kindle version of the book available with her. This helps the children to engage well with the images that runs on screen while reading the story aloud. If you are looking forward to this strategy, you can use the kindle app on your laptop and then share the screen with children. Some kindle story recommendations are:

The giraffe who found its spots

One big heart

Nurse bear does first aid

Goodnight moon

Aaliya often narrates stories to her preschoolers. She uses appropriate voice modulation, props and music effects to make the stories even more engaging. She also makes use of the flannel board technique. But caution, you need to practice in front of the mirror before you go online because if you start placing the elements starting from your left, the preschoolers on screen would see everything completely opposite.

Let them lead:

Really? Can we let them lead the class online? That is how even Aaliya reacted when one of her colleagues suggested that they should give children an opportunity to lead. The idea stemmed from the fact that they had observed the preschoolers get easy hang of the online video application. They even knew how to chat with their teachers not literally but sending emojis and trying to type letters were some techniques they used. To this Aaliya decided to do a virtual circle around literacy. The parents were informed in advance so that children get appropriate support. She would show them a picture and ask them to write the beginning sound on the whiteboard. And it came out to be effective. Preschoolers enjoyed doing something on their own. There on Aaliya replicated this idea for other activities as well.