Kindy SOPs can stunt kids’ growth, expert warns

Social distancing and a ban on high-contact activities are now the norm at kindergartens and preschools.

PETALING JAYA: An education expert has called for a new kindergarten pedagogy to mitigate the ill effects of SOPs preventing group play and restricting the use of resources such as toys.

Speaking to FMT, Mohd Nazri Abdul Rahman of Universiti Malaya warned that the restrictions could stunt children’s development if teachers failed to find new ways to stimulate them in classroom activities.

He said children needed physical stimulation for their development and the use of toys was not the only way to achieve this. He suggested the use of audio and visual resources as well as the children’s own body parts.

He urged teachers to use their creativity to come up with tasks that would capture children’s attention and encourage their participation.

“Children learn through interaction with their environment by touching, observing, tasting or listening,” he said. “Teachers need to introduce new teaching pedagogy to cater to children’s needs and to suit physical restrictions in the current learning setting.”

He suggested that group play be replaced with imaginative play.

He also recommended the use of online educational games and digital books. “Assigning them with online learning materials can help them to catch up with some topics and skills at home.”

Noting that close contact and outdoor play are not allowed under the SOPs, Nazri urged teachers to find innovative alternatives to motivate their pupils to engage in physical activities.

He also said the new norms made it imperative for parents to amplify their supportive role. “They need to multiply their efforts to provide a continuous learning experience at home.”

He recommended playtime and other physical activities with family members in the confines of the home. “This is to support the lack of physical or tangible activities in the kindergarten setting.”

Kindergartens reopened on July 1, subject to strict SOPs. Tables must be arranged with social distancing in mind, and group and high-contact activities are not allowed.

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