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Full steam ahead for learning

01 May 2020

School’s out…and so is our nursery, further education college and day opportunities, but it’s full steam ahead for learning.

Keeping in touch through the internet with teachers pupils and students would otherwise see every day gives a sense of familiarity in uncertain times and creates a routine, and a safe place to be. And in homes without internet access, iPads have been uploaded with useful resources.

Above: Day opportunities morning timetable. Click on the image to read in full

Teachers have adapted usual classroom methods and some sessions, like Kisharon School’s PE lessons have been pre-recorded.

Those learning online are all given the chance to talk about their day and their feelings, supporting emotional and mental health.

Seeing friends on the screen when the lockdown first kicked in was a surprise for Tuffkid Nursery pupils, who had assumed they were the only ones at home. Nursery Head Janice Marriott runs a 20-minute circle time session on Zoom at 11am every morning, with davening, singing, dancing and talking. Rabbi Neuman provides musical accompaniment and there’s a Shabbat party on Fridays.

Janice has organised evening zoom sessions for parents, inviting experts in pre-school emotional and developmental growth.

At Kisharon School, English, Maths and Science remain on the weekly timetable.

Physical therapists have rewritten several of the pupils’ programmes making them more home friendly, while the speech and language and occupational therapists run a cookery session focussing on communication and life skills. Recipes and ingredients are shared with parents using the online tool Class Dojo.

Teacher Adina Collins run creative weekly art sessions, knowing resources at home will be limited, and reading support, autism sessions and sensory stories are still on the agenda.

The school’s Friday oneg remains a regular feature with a recap of the week’s parsha, Shabbat songs and a presentation to the week’s star pupil.

Lyna Panas said: “There is a lot of positive work taking place and I meet with the teachers twice a week to ensure they have all the support they need.”

College students had a gradual start to new online learning but its success was proven with a zoom session with drama teacher Sarah Davies which engaged participants for a full hour. Students were asked to bring to the screen a photo showing a younger version of themselves or a picture of a family member.

Above: Zoom challah-baking lesson for Srulik

Equipment like weights, balls and mats are on home loan for online therapy sessions and students are encouraged to make notes or collect pictures in a diary to share experiences once the lockdown has ended.

All have breakout sessions with the opportunity to speak individually to a teacher.

Day opportunity attenders have a home programme drawn up in consultation with parents. Aimed to provide structure to the day, it includes exercise and cookery, music and Jewish learning.

“We’re really excited about the programme and look forward to making it even more personalised going forwards,” said Sarah Sharlott, Head of Social Enterprise and Community Opportunities.

Zoom bingo is one of the biggest success stories to date. College students and those in day opportunities and supported living, all play together. The game boosts numeracy and social skills – and it’s fun. Winners this week were Jessica Nesbitt, who came first, Sabrina Leigh, second and joint third were Srulik Remer and Eli Cohen.

Above: Aviva Braunold, Kisharon Vocational College Manager, left, teaches Jessica and Yanky the joys of bingo

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Pirkei Avos
“The world stands on three things: Torah, the service of G-d, and deeds of kindness.” Kisharon looks at the person not the disability, teaching Torah, Middos and Mitzvot embracing and cherishing everybody’s special talent and bringing out the best in them.