Jewish parents looking for new ways to entertain and teach their young children at home have been given a lifeline by a Jewish charity.
Jewish Interactive (Ji) said it had been working “round-the-clock” to launch its new Ji Bytes for children aged 5-9 years on Monday, which Jewish News is proud to sponsor.
The organisation has an established home learning platform called Ji Tap, and said: “We have been working around the clock over the past few weeks to prepare an emergency plan to help support Jewish schools, teachers and parents across the world with their rapidly changing educational needs during the pandemic.”
It said its platform was “well positioned to spring into action and support schools as they venture into uncharted teaching territories” during this week’s closures.
“We have seen a large spike in demand and usage in recent weeks with many new school accounts being created each day as more and more schools seek online solutions to continue to provide Jewish education to their students remotely.”
The charity’s trainers have been running regular free training webinars and remote support sessions for schools, teachers and parents and have trained hundreds of participants in the past week.
“This week we are excited to launch Ji Bytes, a dedicated site for children aged between 5-9 offering a series of interactive learning activities on different topics that can be used each day with their children.”
The charity, which facilitates Jewish and Hebrew education using modern tools, said they had been working 18-hour days to get things ready for their new one-hour ‘daily bytes’ from Monday, designed for primary school children.
“It’s a very anxious time for children, parents and teachers, they are all looking at what’s offered online, but expectations need to be lowered because school cannot be replicated online,” said Ji chief executive Chana Kanzen.
“We must recognise that it is going to be less structured. Children are used to the structure of a school day. Also, parents cannot suddenly become teachers overnight. It’s about finding the right tools and the right sites.”
Children should strike an online-offline balance, she said, adding that platforms offering experiences such as videos or games were better able to facilitate learning and engagement. “Think about project-based activities, such as creating e-books.”
Schools have had “almost no time to prepare for this,” Kanzen cautioned. “Over the next few days and weeks they will come up with learning plans but for now parents just need to let their children breathe.
“Step back. It’s OK if they don’t learn from the curriculum for a week or two. This is a good opportunity for them to learn something else such as coding or musical instruments, which will help in their wider development.”
She added: “We are in a high state of anxiety at the moment, so try to agree a timetable that gives structure to the day. For instance, it may be that children are tasked with making lunch or preparing dinner.”