27 Jun Early Childhood Education in Indonesia during COVID-19 Pandemic
Early childhood education is one of the sectors that is affected by COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the learning activities must be held online. All children and their parents now depend on the online learning activities. Given that the pandemic is occurring for over a year in Indonesia, how exactly is online learning activities going for early childhood education? And how can we exceed it?
What is early childhood education?
Early childhood education is one of the most essential stage in our education level. The definition of early childhood education itself is a learning activity that targets early age children which gives them learning experience through playing, seeking knowledge based on their ability and interests, and help them learn new vocabularies.
The age for early childhood education is usually on children’s golden age, that is between 4-6 years old. In this phase, the growth and development of children is very exponential, so their instincts, emotional and spiritual intelligence, and character will be molded easily based on their level of their growth and development.
How is early childhood education in Indonesia during COVID-19 pandemic?
One of the solutions that is given by the Ministry of Education in order to reduce the COVID-19 cases in Indonesia is to switch the face-to-face learning activities to online learning activity for students of all levels of education which can be held at home, utilizing gadgets via online-meeting platforms.
However, the online learning activity for early childhood education is only done between educators and parents. The educators give assignments to the children’s parents and later those assignments are collected. Sadly, there is no direct teaching-and-learning interaction between the educators and the students whatsoever.
But, why did that happen? Why can’t the students have interaction with the educators instead? Well, there are some issues that cause it. One of them is because the students are too young, they tend to find it confusing to use the electronic gadgets and utilizing meeting platforms. The online learning activities must be under their parents’ supervision and guidance.
Moreover, not all parents can stay at home to teach their children learn on day-to-day basis. Meanwhile based on a study by Oktaria (2020), seven of ten parents describing their experience on how long it takes to teach their kids. They said it can take all day, from dawn to dusk, just to help their children fulfill the assignments that are given by the educators to their children.
Not to mention the students that are children who just become aware of their surroundings, are losing their time to socialize, play, and make new friends. It causes them to lose interest easily by learning everything just by staring at their gadget’s screen. A study by Fatah (2020) mentioned that the children’s motivation to study on their early age is still low, and they need a proper support and tools from their parents and their teacher so the students can actively learn. One of the parents on that study said, “[School from home] affects the children because the learning activities are only held from home. While if they attend school, they can meet their friends so the will to study is massively different”.
Other factors that come into play are the school facilities and internet access. The technology that is used for online learning activities is not cheap, yet there are many schools that even do not have the budget to afford the gadgets. We also have to consider that there are many regions in Indonesia, especially in underdeveloped areas, do not have any internet access. Those reasons make it harder for every party which is involved in online teaching-and-learning activities for early childhood education.
So, having to know the issues, what can the educators and parents do to exceed early childhood education?
Both educators and parents have an important role to help optimize the online learning activities for online learning activities. Educators have to be more creative finding new ways for the children to learn. As for the parents, they need to guide their children in every online learning activity
Khoiruzzadi on his study mentioned that optimization the cognitive, social, and motoric development of the children is the main responsibility for a teacher at school. Teachers should understand the development of each student. Having the students are at their golden age, the effect of their environment is essential. There are some examples that a teacher can use to exceed the online learning activity for children that can make a remarkable impact:
- For moral aspect, ask parents to have their children form a habit of saying greetings or salam, say a prayer before a meal, and do prayers
- For their motoric, have the children tidy up their toys, or play with playdough
- For cognitive aspect, ask the children to sort and group something
- For language aspect, ask the children to tell some stories
- For their social ability, teach the children how to be confident to interact with other people
- Last but not least, to practice their art skills, have them to draw things at their house and to sing children songs
I know that it is not easy for every party involved in early childhood education because it will shape the children’s character, not to mention we have to do it through online media. Despite all the struggles, I’m sure we all can take learning points to shape a better future for our next generations.