Trends in Early Learning in 2021
Blythe Keeler Robinson, President and CEO, Sheltering Arms
The year 2020 caused many disruptions in different areas of our lives, including education. The way we teach, the way children learn, the way we go about our everyday lives has forever changed.
Now, we’re in the new year, and as an early childhood education provider, Sheltering Arms continues to see a couple of key trends in the industry that we believe will take us well into 2021. We are also keeping our eyes on a couple of emerging trends, as we continue to create and implement technologies and techniques that will help our young learners absorb lessons as best as possible .
Born out of necessity in 2020, widespread online learning took the stage as the pandemic forced schools to quickly adopt online learning platforms and techniques. It also urged many early learning centers to start experimenting as well. As our society embraces remote and hybrid ways of working, living and learning, it is critical for providers to consider and offer alternative learning opportunities to meet the needs of our children and families.
Online learning can break down barriers to provide access to a quality early childhood education program for many families; however, it also queues up the next conversation about access to families that do not have internet or the necessary devices for children to learn in a remote environment.
At Sheltering Arms, we believe that nothing can replace the in-person interaction and experience in the classroom, especially for infants and toddlers. We reopened our centers last June and look forward to welcoming students every day, while offering virtual learning opportunities both inside and outside the classroom.
Virtual Reality and Augmented Reality
Last year, through our annual signature event, “Embrace Early: Create the Future,” Sheltering Arms presented the idea of 360-degree virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) technology as a new way of learning in the classroom. Experiences using VR/AR platforms initially created for gaming now allow children to virtually explore and learn outside of the four walls of a classroom. A great learning and retention tool, the use of this technology can offer, for example, virtual field trips where students can tour zoos and museums in other countries, or explore underwater sea animals through deep-sea diving expeditions. With the use of inexpensive Google Cardboard glasses, classrooms can transform a smartphone into a dynamic teaching tool that brings the world to a young child’s mind.
In the months ahead, we look forward to the conversations and innovations that will help provide solutions needed in the educational environment to continue preparing our community’s littlest minds for future success.