ONTARIO – A joint press release between Ontario Premier Doug Ford and Education Minister Stephen Lecce held last Friday allowed the province to outline its plans for helping children continue learning and working toward graduation, despite the COVID-19-caused school closures that are now likely to extend beyond the tentative April 6 re-opening date.
“To support families and students, our government has developed a one-stop spot for at-home learning. It doesn’t replace school but offers a great alternative as we approach the end of March Break,” said Premier Ford.
“The Learn at Home initiative will help mitigate ‘learning loss’ during this period of uncertainty,” added Minister Lecce. “Our plan will provide interactive teacher-led math supports to keep students learning and empower all students to learn key skills with an emphasis on STEM education, while also arming parents with resources to support them as their kids learn at home.”
The portal has different educational offerings divided between elementary and secondary students from Kindergarten through Grade 12. At the earliest level are activities such as math story time for students up to Grade 2. There are more than 65 interactive games for children up to Grade 6 to build math, STEM and social science skills based on the Ontario curriculum, and access to this service is available by signing up for a free TVO mPower account.
TVO is also hosting a service called Mathify in which certified teachers in Ontario help tutor students from Grades 6 to 10 on their math skills. Mathify is available from Monday to Friday from 9 am to 9 pm, as well as Sundays from 3:30 to 9 pm.
Teacher-led high school courses are available for students in Grades 9 through 12 and allow students to refresh, review and further their education in a given course. Students will not earn credits for these courses but it will help to keep their education current for when classes resume.
There are also resources available for parents and caregivers, including a parent’s guide to literacy and math in Kindergarten, a guide for helping children up to Grade 6 with their math, an overview of math fundamentals from Grades 1 through 8 and a copy of the full Ontario curriculum from Kindergarten through Grade 12.
Although TVO programming is already heavily oriented toward learning, it is adding an additional show on its television channel from 9:30 to 10:30 am called ‘The Power Hour of Learning’ which will feature educational content every morning in a format designed to be stimulating and engaging for children.
The TVO YouTube channel will be soon joined by three subject-specific channels geared toward math, science and technology, and language, respectively.
“TVO is proud to be part of this important initiative by the Ministry of Education,” said Jennifer Hinshelwood, TVO’s acting chief operating officer. “TVO’s suite of digital learning products is designed to stimulate and engage young minds in learning— a mission that seems doubly important at times like this when many of our traditional learning environments are not accessible.”
A press release from the Ontario government notes that it is working with school boards to help provide technology to students without access to a computer. The Learn at Home platform is also available in French through TFO.
TVO also runs an online independent learning centre which allows students to complete self-directed courses and earn an Ontario Secondary School Diploma. That service, which is separate from this announcement, recently received a major overhaul and the new version was unveiled at the beginning of March.