What is in abundance all around the child? What has the most teaching potential for the child? Also, the most neglected? What is it that will never cease to amaze the child and always keep the inner child alive? What is free, hands-on and amenable to an individual child’s pace? Also, that an adult fails to understand in any manner possible and takes for granted? NATURE.
It feels strange that nature has to be introduced to children, but that’s what it has come to be. Rather, there will be arguments why it is unneeded for kids and is just a silly wasteful idea with no real learning potential. Or maybe the empty boasts that it is/has been done, just that the child is unaware. And, that’s precisely the reason for Right To Nature, the LKG curriculum for life learning.
What Is Nature
Seemingly needless, but it is necessary to agree on what is nature. Else, we, the adults, can very well say that nature is too far and expensive to reach, hence let’s drop the idea. We might as well classify four walls of the classroom as nature, hence the mission accomplished to acquaint kids with nature. Or, call once in a while visit to a manicured lawn of a park/gated community as nature. No, it is not.
Nature does not exist in an isolated faraway place but is all around us. Anything untouched/not invented by mankind is nature. So, all kinds of pollution, air-conditioned buildings, screens, internet, vehicles etc are out. All kinds of plants and trees, insects and bugs, birds and butterflies, clouds and wind, bushes and shrubs, stones and pebbles, clouds and wind, mud and soil are in – Nature.
Why Right To Nature
Right to nature sounds like a theoretical discourse, heavy and hopeless. You may ask – what’s in it for children? This doesn’t make a child school-ready or prepare for the entrance exams. What’s there to learn from buds and blooms, mud and water? No preschool ever has nature in its syllabus. A visit here and there to a park suffices to be called an introduction to nature. So, how does it matter?
What is going to be the existential threat for today’s children in their lifetime? Climate change. What are we leaving as our legacy to future generations? Polluted Earth. We, the adults, have created and perpetuated the problem and we aren’t going to solve it. The solution, if at all, has to come from today’s kids when they go on to become adults themselves.
As adults, apart from lip service, have we learnt anything from nature? Do we consider nature even worthwhile to get involved with, apart from exploitation, of course? We live our lives flouting all the elements of nature. If our kids also happen to be like us, they have had it. We can’t repair the damage we have done to nature, but at the least, we can make our children aware of nature.
Hence, the right to nature, LKG curriculum for life learning. Catch the children young and see them grow and learn with nature, not just for the unit tests 3 years down the line but for the tests of life, 30 years and beyond. And being an ally of nature, all along. This might give them a better chance of survival on Mother Earth.
The Learning From Nature
Nature has enough and more than any man-made curriculum to engage and involve the child and for the kid to learn from and about. Be it the soft skills of compassion and empathy or the hard-wired proficiency in maths and science, nature has it all for the child. What’s more, it is age-appropriate for a preschool kid and will be a life-long companion through adult life.
Difficult to believe? Why do you think we do not feel hurt when we see the trees getting cut? How is it that we care more about the OTT shows but not the air quality we breathe? Why are we fine with a complete lack of native Indian trees around us? Because we weren’t sensitized to nature when we were kids. We missed out on a life-time of learning with plants, i.e. nature.
Imagine a child getting introduced to seeding and seeing a plant grow, tending to an animal who has lost a leg, playing with mud and giving shapes to the thoughts. It is for certain that this child when goes on to become an adult will have superior sensitivities and sensibilities than us, the parents, the adults. Even for the STEM-obsessed, nature has to offer the most, only if given a chance.
Right To Nature: LKG Curriculum
How to envisage putting the right to nature, LKG curriculum for life learning in action? NCERT preschool curriculum is a letdown, unregulated preschools don’t care and the rigid education establishment won’t see beyond the entrance exams. The adults are supposed to decide and we don’t have a clue on how to go about it. What and how to introduce kids when we are unaware?
A starting point is to admit our slip, leave kids alone with the elements of nature and hopefully, the learning will come through. There aren’t going to be any worksheets, texts or screens. Yes, a lot of questioning by the kids has to be backed by the all-around efforts by the adults to answer and allow the kids to be hands-on and open-ended, curious and experiential, playful and free.
Unless the right to nature, LKG curriculum for life learning comes through, Mother Earth is going to be scorched with the threats of climate change and so will be the futures of our children.
What are your thoughts on the subject?
PS: I am a stay-at-home father to six-year-old twin daughters, neither an educationist nor an expert, just growing up together with my children. The above thoughts are an expression of parenting is having an opinion, getting involved and trying to better.