Teachers have to expect less from children in primary classes and be more patient with them and their academic progress, the heads of a number of private schools have said, responding to learning gaps resulting from Covid-induced closure of campuses.
The heads have asked teachers to go slow with the text and give children more time to read and comprehend. They should not judge the children by their age and expect them to be “up to the mark” based on preconceived notions.
The academic progress of many children in primary classes has not been according to their age in the last two years, when Covid had forced schools to switch to online classes. The schools have only recently reopened for in-person classes.
At least one school head has told her teachers that they have to handhold the children instead of moving forward with the syllabus because many children are lagging behind.
Recently, a Class II student at a private school in the city kept crying saying he wanted to go home as his stomach was aching. When the coordinator teacher spoke to him and took him around, it came to light that the boy was upset because he was taken to task for his failure to read a text in class.
At another school, the head reminded the teachers that the intellectual level of many kids of Class IV was that of students in Class II or at best Class III.
Since April, schools had been bringing children in primary classes to the campus off and on and for shorter durations. It is only after the summer break that in most schools all students are coming together for in-person classes.
“I have told teachers in the primary section to be less demanding of students and more patient with them. For example, a Class III child may not have the age-appropriate vocabulary. The teacher has to accept that and move forward from there,” said Nupur Ghosh, vice-principal of Mahadevi Birla World Academy.
The teachers have been told to give more time to children, instead of rushing through the syllabus.
The idea is to get children in the primary section used to attending in-person classes slowly and allow them time to get familiarised with the formal setting of a school.
“We have told teachers to teach smaller units and do it over a longer period of time,” said Pratima Nayar, principal, junior school, Calcutta International School.
She said teachers in her school were giving the students 5 minutes’ break after 20 minutes of class because the children were not used to sitting through a 40-minute class at a stretch. “Most children (up to Class III) cannot finish writing in 40 minutes and are taking more time. We have to give them time,” said Nayar.
Hilda Peacock, director of Gems Akademia International School, said online classes could not be a substitute for in-person sessions and teachers have to "to go slow now”.
“Teachers have to repeat, revise the work instead of rushing through the syllabus. Spelling, counting… everything has suffered. When needed, a Class III teacher is going back to the work done in Class II,” she said.