Here goes the break-up of the life learning curriculum for preschool. After the right to play – the nursery curriculum and the right to nature – the LKG curriculum, the third in line is the right to experiences – the SKG curriculum.
The child has learnt to walk and talk. The child moves around and explores. What does he/she do? He/she wants to touch everything in sight, feel it, smell it, hear it, taste it and try to memorize the experiences. The child has learnt through exploration and experience, fun and joy. So, peculiar of a child. Well, every adult knows it.
Fast forward to a preschool. The child is closeted in a room. Nothing novel to see, feel, taste, smell. Well, there’s a lot to hear – but of the same variety, instructions and instructions. No new sounds as such. There is nothing to memorize apart from the repetitive rhymes. The child has learnt through rote and ramming, dull and joyless. So, peculiar of an adult. Well, no child knows it.
Cut the sarcasm. We, adults, know that kids learn through exploration and experiences. We, adults, also have the reluctance to put the knowledge into practice. Wonder why? And, that’s precisely the reason for the right to experiences, the SKG curriculum.
Right To Experiences: Hands-On and Experiential Learning
The kids have to be taught about service providers, the modes of transport, the materials – what better than live-action? The kids have to be taught about hard skills and soft competencies – what better than hands-on? To introduce farms and factories, markets and shops, scientists and researchers, potters and weavers, politicians and criminals – what better than experiential?
The child is imaginative and creative. The child is curious and inquisitive. He/she wants to put all the sensory organs and the mind to use. He/she isn’t stuck to the notion of being a know-it-all and is receptive to ideas. What is better to enrich the child and the child’s learning – hands-on experiences or circle time/charts/apps?
Well, the adults will ask adult questions. They will have doubts about the practical applications and not the theoretical discourse. So, here we go, hands-on.
Is The Right To Experiences Really Learning?
As an adult, what do you remember of your childhood days? What are your memories of picking up useful learning as a kid? As a parent, when/where/how do you see your child learning? What do you think your kid is going to carry with him/her as lifelong lessons? The answer will only be one – Hands-on/Experiential.
The child’s learning from the right to experiences, the SKG curriculum is real. It will not just make him/her school-ready, rather it will prepare him/her for life. The child learns wisdom and good judgment, not just rhymes and riddles, with seeing and feeling, perceiving and understanding. And, that’s what real learning is meant to be, not just for the next 3 years, but for the next 30 years.
Is It Safe?
India is no country to raise daughters. India is a difficult country to raise kids. We lock the children, as the Covid-19 lockdown showed that children parks were the last to open and the schools are not even close to opening full-strength. Going by these measures, the right to experiences has no likelihood of coming into existence. So, how do we go about doing it?
We make the right to experiences, the SKG curriculum a collective responsibility of the country. The departmental store staff/policemen – the organized workforce will have in his/her appraisal a criterion of how many kids came for an experiential visit. The factory/restaurant/roadside kiosk/kirana stores – the unorganized workforce will get a badge of honour for the number of kids visiting their workplace.
As the acceptance and visibility of the right to experiences increases, as the number of children going around increases, the safety for the children will only enhance. Society’s peer pressure will work. More so, the responsibility of setting an example for the country’s future generations when everyone around is watching will ensure civilized behaviour from the adults.
Is It Expensive?
The unregulated private preschools are all-ready expensive. Well, they ought to be. Why would you think KKR acquired Eurokids for Rs. 1475 Crore? Not for the kid’s learning, but for X times the taking. The private preschools focus on owner’s and franchise’s returns than the child’s learning. For once, they need to be held to task and parents can ask for a right to experiences as a value for their fees.
For the abysmal anganwadis, it is time the Government goes beyond ensuring the mere survival of kids. Anganwadis were set up in 1975 and they still operate in the same dingy room, with the same Jurrasic-era objectives. It is utter nonsense, like the NCERT syllabus and the CBSE syllabus. For once, the Government should put its money for some real benefits to the children.
Vis-a-vis the yields, the price for the right to experiences is an investment well-made.
A Statutory Warning
A few smart preschools and even the New Education Policy talks about experiential learning. Just put them through the open-air test. Right to experiences won’t and can’t happen in the closed confines of the four walls of the preschool. If there is not a whiff of fresh air, a stirring sight, potpourri of tastes, multiple textures – it is just a play of words – jargon/pulling wool over the parents’ eyes.
So goes above the right to experiences, the SKG curriculum. My wife and I are trying it out for our twin daughters. It does make for a fascinating and yes, bumpy ride too. We are not having economies of scale with two children, hence getting limited. Let’s see how we can proceed.
What are your thoughts on this subject? What experiences for your children and how?
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.