Senior moment as Kindy marks milestone

They’ve barely started school, but Panania North’s youngest students are old hands when it comes to making learning from home fun, writes Billy Kos.

Image: Twins Issa and Maryam aged overnight to celebrate their 100th day of Kindergarten.

Not even a global pandemic was enough to stop Panania North Public School’s kindergarten students from celebrating their first 100 days of learning.

Dressing up as 100-year-olds to mark the important milestone, the students in south-west Sydney also enjoyed an online party with their classmates.

Assistant Principal Jayne Rainer said the school was working hard to help teachers, students and families stay connected and engaged throughout the learning from home period.

“Panania North Public School has risen to the challenge to ensure our school community has stayed united during an extremely challenging time,” Ms Rainer said.

“Primary school students in particular form a close bond and connection with their teacher and not being able to see them is tough.

“Thanks to Zoom, they have been able to watch their teacher in front of the class and the teacher, in turn, can see the work they are doing in real time and provide immediate feedback,” she told local media.

Ms Rainer said she had been impressed by the effort of school staff to ensure a seamless transition to learning from home.

She said teachers understood that learning from home was very different and challenging at times, so the school had implemented a number of measures to keep students motivated.

“Each week we have ‘Wellbeing Wednesday’ where students focus on fun and mindfulness activities designed to give them a break from academic learning,” Ms Rainer said.

“This includes games, quizzes, fun challenges and time to simply connect and talk with their peers and teachers for the older kids, and daily activities such as cooking, yoga, art and craft for younger students.

“Our wellbeing days have been a huge success for our students, who always come back from their break refreshed and ready to learn.”

Animal inspiration

Ms Rainer said inspirational talks and regular updates about the school’s farmyard animals had also helped keep morale high.

“Our whole school community is loving the regular updates about our farmyard animals, including Pete the Peacock and Jack and Jill Geese,” she said.

Among the activities the school has used to encourage engagement were an online chat with a Taronga Zoo zoologist for the younger students and an inspirational online visit from Olympic Gold medallist Chloe Esposito for Years 3-6.

Ms Rainer said students had been “really excited” when the school introduced a virtual assembly, run by student leaders from their homes.

“The assemblies include birthday shout-outs, class awards and a showcase of students’ work, and they really matter to our students because they provide a bit of normalcy in an otherwise abnormal time,” Ms Rainer said.

She said the school had worked closely with parents to help make learning from home a positive experience for everyone.

“Our parents have been amazing and have worked extremely hard to be involved in supporting their child’s leaning from home,” Ms Rainer said.

“Parents have also provided teachers with valuable and positive feedback regarding online learning, which has enabled us to modify programs and delivery methods to ease the pressure on families working and learning from home.”

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