The Dyslexia Association of Singapore stands together with Singapore and the World in our efforts against COVID-19. The Singapore Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong said: “We should take all the necessary precautions and carry on with life”. For DAS, this means the continued delivery of our programmes and services and ensuring that our students with dyslexia continue to learn.
It has been a week since DAS initiated the unprecedented implementation of home-based learning for 3,500 students across our 14 learning centres. DAS Home-Based Learning is delivered via online teaching and/or the take-home learning packs provided by our Educational Therapists. Here are some of my immediate thoughts:
THIS IS MOMENTOUS!
Converting to home-based learning for thousands of children, especially using online platforms, is an enormous task and it will be a few weeks before this new approach stabilises for staff, students and parents. But this effort is necessary for DAS students to continue their learning while the current situation persists.
THE RESPONSIVENESS AND CAN-DO SPIRIT OF DAS COLLEAGUES HAS BEEN INCREDIBLE!
I often say, “It is not the situation but the response”. I am tremendously grateful and proud of DAS colleagues and their response to moving to home-based learning! A significant effort has been made to create on-line lessons and take-home learning packs for our students which also entails additional interaction with parents and students to ensure effectiveness. DAS colleagues have responded so positively and this must be acknowledged!
THE READINESS OF MANY PARENTS AND STUDENTS TO ADAPT HAS BEEN MOST ENCOURAGING!
Understandably, many parents wondered about the effectiveness of online teaching and the use of take-home teaching packs and they have expressed these concerns to DAS. I urge all parents to give the new approach some time, embrace the change and work with DAS Educational Therapists to enable this approach to work for their child. I am delighted that the majority of our parents have responded positively and that their children have continued learning!
THIS NEED NOT BE A “SECOND-BEST” APPROACH!
We have started receiving some heartening feedback about online learning. One parent said, “I just wanted to drop a note to commend DAS on the alternative approach. My child really enjoyed her lesson today with Suja and she said it was as good as being in class. Kudos to all of you who make it seamless!” Another parent said, “This is a good approach, we have tried it once with Teacher Tina, it works well and hopefully the kids can pick up the skills through this method.” Yet another parent has requested to start classes for her newly enrolled child without having experienced the in-person classes. DAS encourages all parents to embrace home-based learning!
WE MUST NOT NEGLECT THOSE WITHOUT COMPUTER DEVICES!
There are some students without access to computer devices for online teaching. The take-home learning packs were designed with these students in mind. DAS is also planning additional e-learning sessions during the June school holidays to supplement these students’ learning.
WE WILL GET BETTER AND BETTER!
Not surprisingly, some staff, students and parents have experienced technical difficulties as we embrace home-based learning. Often, this may be the result of unfamiliarity with the hardware, software or learning packs. This is understandably frustrating, but the issues will reduce with practice. As familiarity grows, the home-based learning classes will become more and more effective. Once again, I urge all parents to work with DAS and help us to help your child so that their learning can continue despite the restrictions placed on us.
WE HAVE CONTINUED OUR WORK, WE HAVE JUST DONE IT DIFFERENTLY!
Our efforts to adapt are not limited to home-based learning. We have just completed a very successful Online Preschool Seminar. Our Human Resource Team recently conducted an Online Recruitment Preview. Our Learning Centres will continue to offer Online Parents’ Orientation by webinar. DAS Academy now offers online participation for all teacher training courses. The upcoming DAS All Staff Meeting on 29 April will be conducted virtually. DAS Team Teaching Teams and the UnITE SpLD 2020 Conference in June will also be virtual events. In other words, DAS has not postponed or cancelled any of our major activities, we are just doing them differently!
The human spirit that responds, adapts and endeavours is amazing. We have every confidence that DAS, Singapore and the World will overcome these very difficult times and emerge even stronger!
Stay strong and stay healthy everyone!
Lee Siang is the Chief Executive Officer of the Dyslexia Association of Singapore. He regularly notes down his thoughts on the DAS Blog.