Future Bright: NCERT to boost mental skills of preschool kids

Parents given challenging role in new nursery curriculum.

Hyderabad: With the National Council of Educational Research and Training’s (NCERT) new curriculum for nursery kids, we can expect a wholesome change in the beginning days of their school years. NCERT has decided to implement a new model of education in preschool as the current system is not helping to develop their mental skills.

A curriculum has been designed for two years before Grade 1. There is presently no curriculum for nursery and the new rules state that no child below the age of 3 can join in nursery.

The NCERT has also stated the required class room size, safety measures and teaching methods. State governments have been asked to send in their opinions regarding the same by the second week of May. Preschool teachers have said that now they merely teach rhymes, numbers and colours.

The NCERT has gone a step further and has issued instructions for parents as well, directing them to ensure that they talk to their child (conversation) and family time is given at home for the development of the child.

Educational experts have lauded the curriculum as it aims in teaching children hygiene, self-awareness and creative self expression. By the second year of pre-school, kids will be made aware of “bad touch”.

With no preschool syllabus in place, pre-schools across the country are free to develop their own syllabus and curriculum. However, a detailed report from the NCERT has stated that the current system has not been helping in the mental development of children and also introduces them to rote learning from a very young age.

Shruthi Mani, a pre-school teacher said that in her nursery, they introduce children to rhyme, colours and numbers, along with the alphabet. “We have a few books that link alphabets with images and we teach from the same as well. We have been repeating this for two years. It will be good if we have a concrete syllabus that is followed everywhere that can equip children mentally,” she said.

The curriculum developed by the NCERT aims at the two years i.e. LKG and UKG-level and wants to promote physical well being, creative and motor development and cognitive development. It has also stressed on the importance of ‘family involvement’ at home and at preschool. NCERT officials stated that till date, children were not taught to maintain good health and to become effective communicators.

An academic coordinator of the NCERT said that during the first year, we want students to distinguish between people and relationships. “We will provide opportunities for dramatic plays, puppet shows and the most important measure will be teaching them personal hygiene i.e. How to use the restroom and how to wash their hands with the help of an assistant. This is extremely important and teachers will also check for students height, weight etc,” he said.

The curriculum aims at increasing the eye-hand coordination of students while colouring, pasting and others.

The other strict guidelines laid down by the Council include making the minimum age required for a child to be permitted in nursery as 3 years.

Inclusion of parents in curriculum lauded
The NCERT’s decision to include parents in the curriculum is being lauded by educational experts. The document states that children need to be “heard” even at home to ensure their mental development.

The curriculum states that with the help of parents, teachers can understand the interests and strengths of the students and find out how their learning is being mediated at home.

Malini Sunil, a pre-school principal said that there is a need for a balance of children-initiated and teacher directed activities. “It is a good idea to introduce children to dancing, skipping, hopping and others at a young age to develop their body balance and coordination. Most preschools are restricted in a classroom. Developing portfolios of the student’s work is also an excellent suggestion by the Council as the children can carry it forward to their next class and the teachers will know about the student,” she said.

The curriculum also calls for increased interaction between parents and teachers. Laxmi Rao, an educational expert, said that this is a good initiative by the NCERT as children will be aware of themselves. “This will boost their self-worth and encourage creative expression. By introducing parents as substitute teachers and asking them to use their skills for the benefit of children i.e. asking a mom who sings to come sing in a class is also a good initiative and has been borrowed heavily from successful pre school models abroad,” she said.

The curriculum has also garnered praise for ensuring and encouraging gender equality as the report states that pre school should be a platform to break gender stereotypes.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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