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The Changing Face Of Indian Preschools: How They Are Adapting To Meet Modern Needs

Research has shown that the early years are the most significant when it comes to laying the foundation for the growth & development of a child. In fact, as much as 90 percent of the brain is said to develop by the time the child is five years of age. This is the time when important “synapses” or connections are developed in the brain. Importantly, many of these connections are needed for many higher-level activities such as problem-solving, self-regulation, and more. The kind and amount of care and interaction children receive in their early years, therefore is imperative as it goes a long way in aiding the formation of these connections. When children are exposed to a stimulating environment that nurtures them, it allows them to develop to their fullest potential.

The New Education Policy (NEP) also places considerable emphasis on early childhood education while focusing on the all-round development of children- right from physical & motor skills, cognitive development, socio-emotional development, and more. The policy, in fact, has given Early Childhood Education (ECE), a substantial boost by stressing its importance, and by stating that ECE and primary schooling are an important continuum.

It stands to reason then that Indian Preschools rise up to this challenge, and make the developmentally important early years count. This is a phenomenon that is rapidly taking place. Progressive preschools are working towards the holistic development of children while ensuring that they are taught 21st-century skills. Here are the many ways in which preschool education is making a difference:

Scientifically Developed Curriculum That Focuses on Life skills

The one extremely important aspect of the changing face of preschool education is its reliance on a scientifically developed curriculum. It is clearly not enough to gather children in a preschool setup & try to offer them academic skills. What is needed, instead, is to give them a strong foundation that fuels their curiosity & ensures that they become learners for life. In fact, there is evidence-based research that shows that the right focus on some aspects of early education can set children up on the path to success. With a curriculum developed on these insights, lifetime outcomes can be improved.

One such scientifically developed curriculum is the HighScope curriculum, which is based on evidence gathered through extensive research of over 50 years. HighScope’s work over the past 50 years has evolved to empower educators toward transforming the lives of children. HighScope research reveals that children who receive the right early education tend to reap the following benefits in life:

✔ They show self-regulation
✔ They are well-adjusted
✔ Are better prepared for school
✔ Have higher graduation rates
✔ Are known to have stable employment and more

Such a curriculum, not only offers a rich academic foundation to children, it also gives them the necessary life skills to succeed in life. By teaching skills such as decision-making, critical thinking, and more in an age-appropriate manner, ensures that children become independent and are confident problem solvers & decision-makers. Due emphasis is also laid on conflict resolution skills & for children to gain control over their emotions & thoughts.

Importantly, the curriculum also makes sure that it caters to the child’s physical, academic, social, and emotional development. The HighScope Curriculum, for example, is focused on eight broad content areas. These are:

✔ Various approaches to learning
✔ Social & emotional development
✔ Physical development & health
✔ Language & communication
✔ Mathematics
✔ Creative Arts
✔ Science & Technology
✔ Social Studies

This is done by way of ensuring active learning whereby children are provided with age-appropriate material & are encouraged to handle different materials & ideas. What is offered is strong adult scaffolding where teachers support the child’s thinking & challenge them to move to the next level. Ongoing assessments help the teacher gauge the child’s progress & plan meaningful learning experiences.

Fun Fact- Students who join preschool today will retire in 2080. The challenge is to identify the knowledge and skills to be taught to them to help them face the challenges of tomorrow! All of this needs to be incorporated into the curriculum!

Above everything the focus of the curriculum is to ensure that students do not look at education as a chore, instead, their inquisitiveness is strongly fuelled.

Scientifically Developed Curriculum

All Round Development in Indian Preschools

With the preschool curriculum addressing all the different aspects of the child’s growth, it leads to the holistic development of the child.

Right from helping the child develop gross & fine motor skills through play-based activities, to helping them develop their socio-emotional skills, the possibilities are endless. In fact, social interaction at a preschool offers an early lesson in processing social cues. With the child developing friendships with peers as well as new relationships with adults, important lessons in cooperation, sharing, and more are learned.

While at the preschool, the child is also exposed to the right use of language. Children are also encouraged to express themselves and to make their views & preferences known in a manner that is fearless yet empathetic.

Done well, preschool education also helps children become involved learners. It helps the child understand the world & to make sense of it. Progressive playschools realize that children learn at different times, in different ways & at different rates and therefore cater to each child. What it means is that the child develops to his or her full potential and also that the child is filled with self-esteem, an important marker for later life.

Child-Friendly Learning Environment in Indian Preschools

A well-designed physical environment goes a long way in offering the child the requisite safety and security, a sense of belonging as well as the opportunity to engage in meaningful activities. Let us speak of the safety aspect first. In today’s milieu where we hear of enough & more cases where the child’s safety is compromised, it is imperative that Indian preschools offer child security. For this reason, well-equipped playschools have efficient safety protocols including but not limited to offering live CCTV footage to parents. With the live footage, you can, not only access the activities that the child is undertaking, but importantly you can rest assured that child safety is never being compromised.

What is also taken into account is that the place is totally childproof be it the layout of the school, its classrooms, eating areas and more.

A child-friendly learning environment is also equipped with the right selection of equipment & materials. Importantly the child is presented with the opportunity to explore materials of choice.

Daily Routine

As opposed to creating a regimented routine that each child has to go through, upcoming playschools take into account the fact that different children have different learning styles. It is therefore imperative that each of these styles be catered to in the pedagogy. For instance, a child can be a visual learner, while another child can be primarily an auditory learner, yet another child may be inclined towards kinesthetics. It is important, therefore to ensure that the teaching methodology used takes into account these different learning styles. Different teaching aids come to the use of different types of learners & it is imperative that the teacher makes use of them.

Also, some learners are better at individual learning and others at social learning. The daily routine of the Indian preschools, therefore needs to incorporate enough opportunities for both individual & social play. In addition, it needs to incorporate small & large group activities.

Passionate Teachers

The changing face of Indian preschools is also seen in their management & teachers. The industry, which was largely unorganized so far, is seeing a shift towards the organized sector. Increasingly Indian preschools are being set up by organizations comprising personnel who not only have the highest level of education but who are also extremely passionate about making a difference in young lives. The big advantage they bring to the table is their experience and progressive thinking as also their exposure to world-class pedagogy. What it also means is that teachers are regularly trained in order to make a difference in the lives of young learners. With their training, teachers can recognize areas of developmental needs in children & can offer the necessary support & intervention. With a healthy teacher: student ratio, the teacher can adequately focus on the child’s needs by offering rich interventions without being intrusive. Importantly, the overall focus is on the child’s strength as teachers help develop the child’s imagination through play. Overall then, Indian preschools go a long way in supporting the child’s overall growth & development. With development opportunities planned in a manner such that they build on the child’s strengths, interests and more, the transition to the main school is also smoothened.

To Sum Up

The right preschool can go a long way in not just preparing children for their school journey ahead, but also for the journey of life. It offers a sound foundation for the child’s overall well-being. Importantly it offers them the life skills to think critically, be creative, and make the right decisions.

At Footprints, we follow the HighScope Curriculum with its play-based & child-centered approach, as we want to ensure that all children have the best chance at lifelong success. Well-trained teachers go all the way in ensuring that the child’s learning is enhanced. Most importantly we ensure that the child falls in love with the process of learning. Besides a strong focus on the holistic development of the child, is what makes the experience at Footprints special. The emphasis on creating learners for life & to offer life skills that have lasting benefits into adulthood has led to parents trusting Footprints as their preferred learning partner!

Post Author: Amita Bhardwaj

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