NASSAU, BAHAMAS — When schools throughout the country were shuttered in early March due to the local spread of the coronavirus (COVID-19), thousands of students were forced to readjust to a new virtual way of learning, including those at the earliest stage of education.
As a result of those closures, Alexis Bethell, an Early Childhood educator, decided to launch a free virtual classroom that caters to preschool-aged children from three-years-old to five-years-old.
In a recent interview with Eyewitness News, Bethell said the purpose of the program is to continue to foster an environment for preschoolers to learn – facilitated by a teacher.
She noted that given the major adjustments to routine and daily life, the virtual preschool gives opportunities for preschoolers to interact with their peers in an age-appropriate learning environment that caters to their developmental needs.
“Thousands of preschoolers were impacted by this,” she said.
“That is a very crucial age.”
The program sessions span for 30 minutes and focus on phonics, numbers, science, story time, and more.
Parents are able to engage in these activities and other interactive worksheets with their children and then share them in the community group.
Prior to enrollment, parents receive a questionnaire in order for the educators to get an understanding of how their child is progressing, and to assign activities that cater to the child’s specific developmental needs.
The virtual classroom has already introduced new and creative activities to its program from planting a tree in the backyard, live zoo tours, wildlife and marine conservation, recycling, and live video talks with speakers worldwide.
Bethell said she knows that each child learns differently, so she tries to take an out of the box approach to target all of her different learners.
She noted that while she misses the brick and mortar classroom, engaging with her class of nearly 50 has become the highlight of her days.
While the government has introduced live television aired sessions for primary school and high school students, there has been little to no movement on the implementation of early childhood education platforms.
Parents can visit the program’s online website at thevirtualpreschoolclassroom.com or email Bethell directly if interested firstname.lastname@example.org.