Life requires us to take endless decisions on everything from the most mundane questions to those we know will affect, not only ourselves, but other people. There are also times when we must make decisions on the spur of the moment, without anyone guiding us, when we have to forge your way without wasting any time because we know we can’t just sit on our hands. And when it’s time to act, we’re aware that our decisions will also affect the daily lives of many other people: students, families, employees, suppliers... which is a huge responsibility!
Ever since COVID-19 burst into our lives, our priority has been to ensure that our students keep up their contact with English and that, despite the closure of schools and the lockdown in spring, they can continue learning with us. We might have made a few mistakes, a few false steps, but we had to find the best solution to a problem that had overturned our way of life and changed the reality of billions of people around the world. We were working against the clock, offering weekly self-study content, activities, and videos that would bring some of the routines from our classrooms into your homes. Then came the online classes for older students, who were getting back to the “new normal”, while we worked as we went along to improve the self-study content we were creating.
At the same time, we were all finding it difficult to keep our youngest children entertained all day at home. That was why we provided our families with a whole load of activities, crafts, songs, dances, and videos as part of “Stay at home with Kids&Us”. Our content jumped out of the normal channels and into people’s homes to make their daily lives a little easier during lockdown. We wanted to make our own small contribution to thank families for the ongoing effort they were making, to show them our support because they were constantly striving to ensure their children would have the best possible memories of what were, in fact, dark times that nobody was ready for.
So, what about the 2020-20201 academic year?
As the weeks and months went by, we became ever more aware of the need to make watertight preparations for the coming months. The new academic year wouldn’t be how we would have wanted, and it seemed like the threat of lockdown would be looming over us for a long time to come. Learning to live with the “new normal” and adapting ourselves wasn’t an option, but a necessity. The world of learning couldn’t be taken away from our students’ again – we wouldn’t let it happen! For any child, the cost of missing months of classes is extremely high.
I’ve always believed that there is an age for studying and learning, and another for working; even though we actually keep on learning throughout our lives, it’s in our early years that we have the time and the ability to learn more easily. And so, at Kids&Us we threw all our weight into adopting all the necessary measures to continue offering our families what we do best: teaching English to their children.
We had a clear objective: to prepare ourselves for any possible scenario that might appear during the new academic year, and that meant digitalising our method...but, let’s pause for a minute. What does digitalising mean to Kids&Us? Transferring all our content into a digital environment? No! That’s not the right definition. In Kids&Us, digitalising means starting from scratch, taking our content and reinventing the way we deliver it to our students, trying to substitute the presence of the children and the teachers where possible. And this has meant shifting from Teacher Guides to scripts; from English teachers in the classroom to teachers who are now actors; from the classroom to the studio; from physical games to virtual ones. We haven’t skimped on resources, although to be very honest, we unfortunately haven’t been able to buy the time that we would have needed to do it better.
Three months went by between the moment we understood that the pandemic would be here to stay for some time and the beginning of the course – three hectic months with no breaks and no holidays. In some ways we’re like the “healthcare workers” of our sector, as we’ve seen how the most valuable asset that anyone can possess –knowledge– has been placed in jeopardy.
And this is where we are now. Could we have done better? Undoubtedly. But we’ll continue working with the goal of achieving excellence. We’ve digitalised the Kids&Us method, we’ve done it in record time, and we’re satisfied with what we’ve achieved so far (given the circumstances) and with the response from our community. Without the trust and support of the entire Kids&Us family, it would have been much more difficult.
We’ve entered a new phase, our schools are safe spaces, and we’re implementing all the health and safety measures recommended by the health authorities in each area. We’ve also prepared to deal with any contingencies that may arise over the coming weeks and months, so that whatever happens, Kids&Us students can carry on learning English with us.
There are a lot of sacrifices that need to be made, both on the individual and the collective levels, but we’ll continue to make decisions based on the future of our students –a future that is written in English.