Play has the power to rebuild childhoods affected by COVID-19!

A resident student of the Sainik Vidyalaya Hostel in Sagroli village for three years, Dev (name changed) did well as the in-person curriculum included training in self-defense, swimming, martial arts, and so on. Being active at the Toybank Play2Learn Center kept him interested in learning, too. 

With the abrupt and big shift from offline to online learning, Dev struggled to understand and retain concepts, as well as, stay motivated to learn. However, Toybank’s Play2Learn activities drew back his interest in studies. The Std 8 boy gradually developed his language skills with playsheets such as ‘Effect or Affect’ and ‘Create Words'. As school reopened, Dev is back at the hostel where play sessions have restarted.

The digital divide and difficulty in understanding lessons may lead to long-term absenteeism in at-risk children. Another aspect is the difficulty in grasping lessons, which discourages them from paying attention to what they are learning. These, in turn, greatly increase their chances of dropping out of the education system altogether. The COVID-19 crisis is likely to widen the gap in inequities that could affect underserved children for their entire lifetime, experts warn. 

Over a series of Focus Group Discussion sessions, our partner-teachers told us about how challenging imparting and taking education has been, and how the Digital Toybank Play2Learn Program is helping mitigate these. We have modified our Program to address multifarious challenges that the COVID-19 lockdown has brought. Not only do at-risk children stay meaningfully engaged but their teachers are supported and parents guided, too.

Challenge: Students are not learning effectively

Vivek Thorat, Principal of Vivek Vidyalaya, Mumbai, says, “Normally, kids don’t read textbooks. They rely on rote-learning or guides for answers and don’t even check if it’s correct.” 

Children are improving their vocabulary with crosswords 

Support in online learning

While solving our Play2Learn Sheets, students need to apply their minds. “The puzzles have especially improved children’s thought process and reduced spoon-feeding,” Vivek Thorat states. With curiosity and the urge to explore increasing, they are eager to learn new chapters or skills in online classes.

“Earlier, we had to coax them to find relevant information but now they make an effort to know things on their own,” says Vivek Sir. 

Challenge: Children from pre-primary to Std 2 most adversely affected 

Students from pre-primary to Std 2 haven’t gone to school yet, at an age most crucial for their growth. The India Task Force study of four states, 44 districts indicates:

  • 92% of primary students have lost at least one language ability

  • 82% of children have lost at least one specific mathematical ability 

  • Younger children have forgotten what they learned 

  • Children are unprepared in foundational skills of curriculum and performance 

Teacher Deepak Kubde from Subhedar Ramji Ambedkar Vidyalaya says, “Children from Std 1 have lost out on learning in a big way. Since they couldn’t come to school, their writing skills have been affected badly.” RH Kate School’s Headmistress, Babita Lingre, adds, “They don't know they’re in Std 1, they think they’re in Sr Kg.” 

Learning has become easier

Young children are especially attracted towards play and pay more attention to studies through Play so much so that teachers are using it as an incentive to make them complete their homework. Ms. Prabha, Headmistress, KBVP Pre-primary School added the activities are easy to follow even for the pre-primary section children. 

Challenge: Teachers are grappling with imparting education online

A survey states that 84% of teachers face challenges such as maintaining discipline, absenteeism, unreceptive students unfamiliar with the online medium, or disinterested, less educated parents who do not understand the study materials to support kids. Vivek Thorat said, “The new way of online learning kept children’s interest alive initially. But then it got repetitive and mundane, so now they turn off their cameras or minimize the screen and play mobile games. In classrooms, we could bring their attention back but virtually, that’s impossible.”

Children are motivated to learn

A child creates a jigsaw puzzle from a newspaper image

“With the introduction of play activities, children are self-motivated to learn,” said Lalita Khaare, Teacher, KBVP English Medium School. Toybank’s games and Play2Learn Sheets are also an incentive to bring children to online classes. Hema Desai, Headmistress, Sheth G.K. Prathamik Shala said, “Any child who has 100% attendance and does their homework gets a game to take home for a week. We then replace it with another game. This gets us the attendance we need and they stay engaged as well as learn.”

As children readjust according to the new normal, they need resilience through Play to rebuild their childhoods and lives. Invest your support through our Play. Invest. Rebuild campaign. 



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