Children all over the world are enduring disrupted routines during the lockdown triggered by COVID-19 and subsequent school closure. Underserved kids are especially faced with hardships and learning losses due to the economic and digital disparity. Samay (name changed) has also had it harder. The 13-year-old from Sagroli, Nanded in Maharashtra had a strictly routined life as he lived in a hostel for the past year. Before being sent to a hostel, the Class 7 boy was restless and didn’t pay heed to his homemaker mother or farmer and grocery store owner father. Hostel life has brought about a positive change in Samay as he has learnt to be independent and became more participative as well as attentive in class, which helped him excel academically.
With an exponential increase in COVID cases, his hostel shuttered down temporarily, forcing Samay to return home. Even though his parents admit that he has become obedient and studies on time, he struggled with remote learning. The child who thrived in the traditional classroom could not especially comprehend Maths formulas and concepts. The sudden shift in location, poor internet connectivity and power cuts for long hours affected his pace of learning. Samay, however, regularly engaged with the Toybank Play2Learn Kit, which includes games and activities aligning with all the subjects in children’s academic curriculum.
The Play2Learn Sheets require minimal data and can be downloaded through WhatsApp without dependence on the internet for long hours. Samay stayed engaged and learnt through Play anytime he required. Gradually, the benefits of online education dawned on him, and the child began using Play2Learn activities to improve his mathematical skills. Playsheets such as ‘Analog’ and ‘Mental Math’ especially helped him develop concentration and critical thinking.
Samay has taken to the playsheets so well that he proactively asks Toybank Program Officers for them on the support group. Samay’s teacher Manohar Bhandare admits that he has noticed his student getting better at Maths and that Play2Learn Sheets have helped him progress in studies. Being around his class and school mates all the time, Samay was also losing out on having companions and thus social-emotional development as he was away from his hostel. However, through the Support Group, he is connected with his other friends and reaches out to them when he has doubts about studies or even play activities.
The group has also enabled Samay’s teachers to stay in regular touch with him. Play is all-encompassing and during COVID-19, it’s bringing mental relief, a productive distraction, resilience, and social-emotional development to more than 51,0000 at-risk children who are playing and learning at home. Pushing Play forward is crucial not only during this but any crisis as healthy development of children cannot and must not stop. So, Play must go on as well!