Independent Education Summer 2020

Independent Education • Summer 20 52 BY JAMES CROSS AND WAYNE PURCHASE In March 2020, when the South African government imposed a nationwide lockdown to slow the spread of COVID- 19, Oakhill School in Knysna in the Western Cape, was able to adapt to online instruction for our 460 pupils because of a culture of innovation and technology that had already been set in place. W e recognised that the needs of our children as well as the levels of support would vary in each phase of the school. Early childhood development – Keeping it real Once the tech-training, planning templates, curriculum vision and our themes for term two were confirmed, the next step was to put together resource packs to be sent to the parents of each child in each grade. This gave us the opportunity to provide age-appropriate resources that we could use in line with our planning, and to share a personalised letter and something special for each child. In our creative planning, we have had to be cognisant of variables such as resources in the home, time, siblings and access to Wi-Fi. The daily programme was sent through to parents as a PDF file. Teachers also sent a morning video message as well as additional video clips, experiments and songs. Staff received photographs and video clips which served as evidence of learner engagement. We encouraged our parents to connect with us when they felt the need. We have witnessed special moments of engagement, captured in photographs or videos and interactions between siblings, parents and children. When doing school at home became overwhelming, we encouraged a day of play or doing fun home tasks in which children could participate, with focuses on movement, literacy, numeracy, life skills, wellness and hygiene. We are indebted to the incredible parents who let us into their homes every day, and we credit our young children for enabling learning to unfold naturally in their homes. The ‘joy of learning’ online – a journey of discovery at Oakhill: Part 2