Good education unlocks a world of endless possibilities for children. Therefore, the best way forward is to prepare kids by making them participate in experiential and activity-based learning rather than being passive learners, says Mridula Shridhar
A good education is a key that unlocks a world of endless possibilities for children. Children who are well-educated have a better chance of success and lead happier lives than those who are not educated. What and how children are taught between the ages of two to six have a tremendous impact on their chances of success in the future. It is between these ages that children acquire an understanding of basic concepts which allow them to flourish in later classes.
Across urban centers in India are a number of Affordable Private Schools (APS) in which many children from economically weaker sections are educated. The fee structure of such schools varies from Rs 18,000 to Rs 20,000 per annum for each child; as many as 60 per cent of the children enrolled in APS are the first generation in their family to attend school. In the absence of APS’, the children enrolled in them would be enrolled in Government schools.
The parents of such children have relatively high aspirations for their children and have enrolled them in APS instead of Government schools because they believe APS provide a better education. Those who enroll their children in APS expect their children to be able to speak and write in English and expect them to be able to count, add, and subtract. They see APS as springboards that will allow their children to have a better life than them by imparting skills that will help them secure respectable and well-paying jobs.
Despite the high expectations of parents, majority of APSs are finding it difficult to impart high quality education, specifically to their pre-primary classes.
These years are typically treated in the same way as primary years, relying on an instructional approach that is rote-based, but with ‘lesser portions’. In this method of pedagogy, children learn by repeating what is said by the teacher in a sing-along manner. This lowers learning outcomes for life. It also does nothing to prepare children for jobs in the future.
Most children in Class V lack basic Math and language skills which hampers their intellectual growth and decision making abilities. The core reason for this deficiency is such children were not exposed to quality early education during their pre-primary years.
The children end up seeing learning as a chore and never acquire a passion for learning. Increasingly, as the children move up to higher classes their only recourse to continued learning comes in the form of tuitions which become a way of life. Improving pre-primary education is the key to children’s success in higher standards.
Ideally, the best way children in pre-primary sections can be prepared for success in later classes is by participating in experiential and activity based learning rather than being passive learners in a rote based method. While some rote learning is good, it can’t be the foundation for any system.
A healthy early learning plan must impart Math and English skills and also make parents aware of the benefits of experiential learning. It would also lead to the overall development of a child by keeping in mind cultural aspects and constantly provide opportunities for social-emotional development. The plan must include teacher training so that they can effectively implement the curriculum in the classroom.
It is only by employing an integrated solution in pre-primary classrooms that children studying in APS can be ready for respectable and well-paying jobs as adults. Early Years is the one period of life that we can set the stage for children from any background to become ‘academically and socially successful’.
The writer is Co-founder and Director at Kreedo Early Childhood Solutions