As many schools move learning online for the foreseeable future, the importance of overall well-being cannot be under-estimated. Our school places well-being at the forefront of our pedagogy and believes a child cannot learn until their basic social, emotional needs are met.
For many students it is their extra-curricular activities which provide their sense of identity and are a highlight in their school day. Being a member of the swim team, the President of the Habitat for Humanity Club or the Chair of the Model United Nations are highly valued by our students and sadly will be much missed during this period of home-based learning and social distancing.
Our school is bridging that gap by offering a daily blog of optional extra-curricular activities with which students can choose to engage. This is a place for them to find ideas to occupy their time and learn new skills, but also connect with their much-loved coaches and instructors, team-mates and friends.
As Plato the Ancient Greek philosopher said, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Our “old” way of delivering extra-curricular activities has had to evolve. Offerings thus far have included baking, gardening, art activities, crafting, fitness challenges, photography, rollerblading, sports skill development, choir singing, recycling, drama challenges and we even managed to send a paper aeroplane around the community through the magic of video editing!
Where possible, we try to ensure activities offer time away from screens to give some balance to busy students who have been learning online for much of the day and also using screens to stay connected to their peers and extended families. With our worlds having shrunk considerably, another focus is on movement for health and fitness.
Students share their learning via email, commenting on our learning management system or posting their videos and pics to Padlet or Flipgrid. Our sports teams have established dedicated social media platforms where fitness challenges are posted and the all-important social banter continues. One of our teams is currently locked in a fitness challenge with another school in Singapore – keeping our friendship leagues alive in trying times when sports travel is on hold.
Like many schools, we partner with a range of external providers for the extra-curricular programme (ECA). During this difficult time our ECA blog has been a means of staying in touch with those providers and many have given generously of their time and resources to keep the learning and enjoyment going.
One of the highlights has been seeing families engage with the activities together. Being home together trying to juggle commitments, share devices and get along is not always easy but a Just Dance Party or belting out some Karaoke as a family has bought some welcome stress relief and giggles.
(Link to the YouTube video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dnb3XnkF6JE&t=5s)