Since schools in Saskatchewan are closed, programs like Agriculture in the Classroom are finding ways to bring ag learning home
School in Saskatchewan is out indefinitely because of COVID-19 and programs that operate in classrooms, such as Agriculture in the Classroom, are looking for new ways to connect with students and teachers.
“Although school is closed, learning is still happening at home all over the province. We want to be able to support ag education at home,” said Sara Shymko, the executive director of Ag in the Classroom.
A lot of the activities Agriculture in the Classroom representatives usually deliver in person are being moved to online, said Shymko.
The offerings “range from some English activities, recipe cards, game shows that students can download and play through PowerPoint, and budgeting activities. We have quite a variety of resources that we have … remodelled so that parents can easily use them from home,” she told Farms.com.
Ag in the Classroom staff plan to monitor the downloads and uptake of the online resources to ensure the organization is offering the right tools. But staff also understand it’s a difficult time for parents right now.
“As a parent myself, I'm finding it really tough to juggle working and helping my kids learn at home,” said Shymko.
Ag in the Classroom staff are also making kits filled with activities for kids and vulnerable families.
“We recognize that not all students who are currently at home have access to storybooks, activities, computers, iPads, or even pens, pencils and paper. So, we happened to have a supply of storybooks in our warehouse and we put a call out to our commodity organizations here in the province. We'll be putting together 2,000 activities packages to go to vulnerable families,” said Shymko.
Right now, Ag in the Classroom staff are working with the Prince Albert Food Bank to assemble 500 kits so, when families come in that have elementary school-aged children, they get a learning kit as well. Ag in the Classroom representatives are also working with the Vulnerable Population Sector Strategy response in Saskatoon who are putting together larger packages for families, said Shymko.
“There's a storybook, an activity booklet, … some pens, pencils, erasers and a few other activity books from some of the commodity organizations,” she said. “It's not much but hopefully it's a little bit something extra for kids during this time.”
Ag in the Classroom staff have reached out to Yorkton and Regina food banks to see if they can do something similar in these cities.
Along with organizing kits and changing online resources, staff are also examining what programs they can change or improve for when school returns.
“It's a real opportunity for our team to dive a bit deeper with what we have been doing with respect to our programs and resources. (We can) really take this time to assess what changes should be made to them, which programs we should continue to do and how to improve them. So when things do ramp up again, which hopefully will be in September, we're ready to hit the ground running,” said Shymko.
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