Right To Nature: LKG Curriculum For Life Learning

Here goes the break-up of the life learning curriculum for preschool. After the nursery curriculum of right to play, second up is the Right To Nature, LKG curriculum for life learning.

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.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Right To Play: Nursery Curriculum For Life Learning

Here goes the break-up of the life learning curriculum for preschool. First up is the Right To Play, the nursery curriculum.

This suggestion of the right to play might draw sniggers from few adults. They can say that kids play all the time. What else do children do apart from playing? What’s the novelty if you suggest a right to play as a life learning nursery curriculum? Just another unwanted funky piece of advice, far removed from reality. So, we start with the reasoning.

Why The Right To Play

Open spaces for children to play are a myth in India. Public parks are not safe for children’s independent play. Yes, the gated communities do have some playing areas, but minuscule to the number of kids residing. We would like to believe that kids play, but where’s the place for children to play – freely, uninhibited, unconstrained?

Kids are bundled off to preschools. This lasts for 3/4/5 hours. Add up the transport time, to and fro. Add the preparatory and winding down period, meals, screen time, temper tantrums (remember, they are kids), sleep. We would like to believe that kids play, but where’s the time for kids to play – nonstop, leisurely, easygoing?

Parents are busy working off their backsides. Siblings, if any, are too old and occupied with exams/screens to play with a nursery-going kid. There is hardly a neighbourhood around nowadays. Even if there is one, the time to play for the kids may not match as they have various classes/sessions at different times. With whom do the kids play?

Oh yes, they get to play in preschools. Is there any time left to play after parroting the rhymes, undesired motor-sensory writing practices (reversal of LSRW) and sitting idle in circle time? The preschools charge to make the child school-ready by overwhelming the kid much beyond his/her age. They do not charge for a child’s play and true to it, they won’t let the child play.

Spending time with mind-numbing digital gadgets does not count as play. So, when/where/how do the children play? That’s the reason for the right to play as nursery curriculum.

To Play Is To Learn

Adults can make one round of the house in less than 5 minutes. That’s how adults are – to the point and efficient. Children can’t make one round of the house even in an hour. That’s how children are – all over the place and clumsy. Adults can follow instructions if they want to. Children can also follow instructions if they remember to.

Why the above proclamations? Because we, adults, do not acknowledge that adults and children are wired differently. What works for adults does not work for kids. Else, they would not be children in the first place; rather they would be born adults. Structured and formal instruction-led teaching makes sense to adults, not kids.

Does water/mud, plants/insects, utensils/pillows make sense to adults for hours together? Would adults be interested in pretend play, asking incessant questions and running around? A resounding no. Then, why should kids be interested in worksheets and rote memorization? Why should children be paying attention only with ears when they can engross all their sensory organs and mind?

Learning has dissimilar connotations for parents (adults) and children. For children, to play is to learn. For adults, to play is to squander away the learning. To children, to play is to understand the ways of life, people and world. To adults, a child’s play is a needless charade with no apparent benefit other than keeping the kids away from an adult’s cherished screen time.

One of the greatest services that a parent can ever do to the child is to recognize that to play is to learn.

How/What To Play

Adults ask adult questions. If parents do get convinced about the life learning nursery curriculum – right to play, the next question they will ask is what/how should children play to learn the maximum, to be ahead of the pack, to ace the entrance exams? The children who ask questions all the time will not ask what/how to play.

Therein, lies the answer to what/how to play and also, how adults and children differ. To play is to play. To play, kids do not require any paraphernalia/apparatus/apps/add-ons/instructions. These are the frills of the adults’ world. What the children do need to play are the physical space and the mental freedom. That’s it. The rest is learning all along.

Right to education was the need of a certain time and the well-intentioned adults made a mess out of it. Right to play is the need of a current time and the un-intentioned adults are again making a mess out of it. We have to back up our future generations in ways more than one and the first up, most important for their life learning, is the right to play as nursery curriculum.

What are your thoughts on the right to play for kids as a life learning nursery curriculum?

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.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Life Learning Curriculum For Preschool

How to ensure learning for the child? How to make sure that the child is prepared to take on the challenges of life? And along with that, the child gets to remain a child and have fun. My proposed solution is the life learning curriculum for preschool. You may ask why the heck some silly thing called a life learning curriculum when the preschools abound all around with their own curriculum.

The preschools expose the child to structured and formal teaching, dull and monotonous routine and rote memorization (all harmful to the child). They do so as the NCERT preschool curriculum is a huge letdown. CBSE syllabus is non-existent and a free-for-all. There aren’t any guidelines for preschools in India. As a result, preschools are merely a me-too version of the schools – rote and joyless.

The child is at the best age to explore and learn, be happy and enjoy childhood bliss. The parents want the best possible education and ready the kid for a lifetime of success. However, the learning environment in the preschools and the curriculum used are severely lacking to back up the parents in their intent and the children in their happiness.

And, hence, the life learning curriculum for preschool. Of course, you won’t be convinced. So, we discuss further on why the life learning curriculum for preschool.

3 Years Or 30 Years

What do you think would be more beneficial to the child? Repeating the rhymes, undesired motor-sensory writing practices (reversal of LSRW) and sitting idle in circle time? Or having a fulfilling adult life, equipped to handle difficult situations and be a confident and empathetic decision-maker? The time span varies. One is after 3 years and the second is after 30 years.

The so-called education of the preschool variety teaches a child what he/she will face in 3 years. With the life learning curriculum, a child learns what he/she will face in 30 years – i.e. all through life. Preschool education teaches a child to do well in unit tests/entrance exams. The life learning curriculum facilitates a child to decide on the course of life and yes, do well.

As a parent, what will you choose for your child as an end-deliverable, from the above two scenarios, after 3 years or 30 years? Preschool or life learning?

Indifferent Or Involved

Preschools’ premise is that they help children be school-ready. It doesn’t help the child to keep getting hammered in the anticipation of an event that itself is notorious to rob the childhood joys.  Such a syllabus is bound to be limited to texts, worksheets and four walls of the classroom, as the schools themselves. In other words, inept and indifferent to a child’s childhood needs.

Life learning is a principle – What the child explores, experiences and learns is for a lifetime. It is a learning that gets ingrained and becomes a foundation for right judgment, all through the adult years. Life learning happens with life i.e. real-life interactions as a teaching aid and involves all sensorial organs and the mind, and not just ears, the only body part that the preschool targets.

As a parent, what will you choose for your child as a process, from the above two scenarios, limiting or exploratory? Preschool or life learning?

An Adult Before Age Or Be A Child

Adults have already learnt, or so they presume. Adults are happy with what they know and exploit it to maximize their returns. They are amenable to instructions and comfortable with the top-down approach to take and follow orders. In other words, adults can complete one round of the house successfully in about 5 minutes or less without a break.

Comparatively, the child will never be able to make a round of the house in one shot. He/she will wait at every corner, look at the ceiling, behind the sofa, take out kitchen stuff and not put anything back. The child will never accomplish a task with the efficiency of an adult. Each task has a different meaning to a child vis-a-vis an adult. Left to choose, the child will not consider the task at all.

As a parent, what will you choose for your child as a persona, from the above two scenarios, becoming an adult before age or be a child? Preschool or life learning?

Objective Of Learning

Ultimately, it will come down to the objective of learning to you as a parent for your child. In simple terms, expecting the child to be a replica of you – adults, at the earliest possible? An initiation to the rat race, what life has become for us. Or allowing the child to have a chance to develop his/her thinking and perspective of life and the world? Letting the child be a child for some more time.

As a parent, what will you choose for your child as his/her future? An anxious and restless life with medical/engineering/whatever degree and yes, the preschools as a stepping stone? Or, empowering the child to let him/her choose the course of adult life with unknown consequences and yes, life learning as a hand-holding enabler?

Like every parent, we also want our twin daughters to become good human beings and do well in life. Just that, we have a disconnect with the current process – the utterly child-unfriendly Indian preschools as the first step of learning, which is not at all a learning. We believe life learning is the starting point of the learning journey for our twin daughters and a companion all through their life.

I will also write about how we have put the life learning curriculum for preschool in action for our daughters with a belief that the learning environment for children is everywhere.

What are your thoughts on the subject? Preschool or Life learning?

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.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

NCERT Preschool Curriculum Is A Huge Letdown For The Children Of India

NCERT preschool curriculum was launched in December 2019. Hold your breath – before this, there was no uniform curriculum, rather no curriculum at all, for the preschools in India. Again, hold your breath – even after the launch of the NCERT preschool curriculum in 2019, there is no uniform curriculum, rather no curriculum at all, for the preschools in India.

The Indian preschools have no curriculum/syllabus/governing body/standardization template is a truth stranger than fiction. Let’s limit the current discussion to the NCERT preschool curriculum, how it perpetuates the mess of no curriculum and syllabus for the Indian preschools and is a huge letdown for the children of India.

NCERT Preschool Curriculum Is Not A Syllabus

The curriculum is broad-based and defines the universe of what all should/can be included. The syllabus is focused and defines the sub-set of what is actually included. Curriculum matters to academicians and theory discussions, syllabus matters to teachers and hands-on practitioners. NCERT preschool curriculum, as the name implies is a curriculum and not a syllabus.

This is a bit strange. NCERT’s core function is publishing the syllabus. It has formed the syllabus of Class I-XII, even though pre-historic and aimless. The hallowed entrance exams of JEE and NEET go by the prescribed NCERT textbooks. Surprise, surprise, NCERT does not formulate the preschool syllabus but a preschool curriculum.

Due to the curious anomaly of a curriculum and not a syllabus, there are no textbooks. There are no defined topics and subjects. Rather, there is nothing definitive at all in the curriculum. Apart from scratching one’s head at the use of jargon and lofty objectives, the curriculum serves absolutely no purpose in understanding how and what a child in preschool should be taught.

NCERT Preschool Curriculum Is Not Mandatory

This one is a real bummer. One might think that now, at least we have a curriculum. Maybe, the syllabus will follow or the curriculum will help in arriving at the syllabus. Surprise, surprise, there is an asterisk – conditions apply. The NCERT curriculum is suggestive and directional; it is not binding on the states. It does not refer to being compulsory or even considered by the preschools.

NCERT might argue that this flexible approach will aid innovation and not strait-jacket and stifle on-the-ground initiatives. Well, we are Indians. We do not have a great history of following the required mandates, how are the preschools going to follow the curriculum which is not enforced? The NCERT preschool curriculum has as much probability to succeed as the law against littering.

Fails To Address The Inequity

The NCERT preschool curriculum document rightly identifies that there is a wide variety of preschool services in our country – Anganwadi, private preschools etc, which have a huge disparity in infrastructural facilities, teacher qualifications, curriculum and pedagogies. Brilliant observation. And, then what does the document do? Gloss it over. Move onto the next sermon. Brilliant strategy.

The children, basis the family they are born in, start their preschool journey with an advantage or a drawback. This would then become a recurrent theme of their lives. NCERT could have tried to address this inequity of learning opportunities for the country’s future. Maybe, it thought that it is the responsibility of the Government. NCERT forgot that NCERT itself is the Government.

Teachers??

Throughout the NCERT preschool curriculum, it keeps referring to teachers. This is what teachers should do/plan/execute, roles and responsibilities etc. Presumably, nothing wrong with it. Just that, how much actual scope do the teachers have in a preschool set-up? Be it in Anganwadi or private preschools, the so-called teachers are mere fillers with suspect qualifications and motivations.

The real decision-makers are the owners/management of the private preschools and the higher-up Government officials. They control the purse strings and are responsible for making the resources available or off limits for the children’s learning. What does the NCERT preschool curriculum have to say about them? Silence.

What’s going to be achieved in preschool learning by letting the sharks devour the fees and grants without any concurrent deliverables? NCERT is awesome in sermonizing and also dragging its feet.

NCERT Preschool Curriculum’s Aim

The above downsides and other equally dreadful measures are made further insufferable by the stated aim of the NCERT preschool curriculum: Preparing the child for school.

There is no more disservice and letting down of children of India than this. Are the schools not enough to snatch away the childhood from the child that another three years are added to the ordeal? That too, when the child is just about getting to know and experience the fun and joy of being a child.

NCERT could have put the aim of the preschool curriculum as letting a child be and enjoying childhood. It could have imparted more learning to children than the current redundant version.

What are your thoughts on the NCERT preschool curriculum?

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.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.

Parent Involvement In Curriculum Development: Revamp Indian Education

I have written about the pre-historic and aimless NCERT syllabus. CBSE doesn’t even get into what the children should study. As a solution, I propose parent involvement in curriculum development. Curriculum development is considered a domain of the educationists in India. However, it is time for the parents to be involved for the sake of better learning of children.

Parent Involvement In Child Learning

The children’s learning has to be fun and engaging, hands-on and practical. It has to be simple and uncomplicated for the child to grasp. What’s so much expertise required that a parent cannot be involved in? The education cannot be convoluted that the people who have gone through the process cannot become a part of it.

Education is supposed to be inclusive and equitable. If this is the laudable aim of the curriculum, why should the process of curriculum development remain exclusive and restricted? If the goal is comprehensive learning, why have the scope be defined by a few individuals? Surely, egalitarian learning can only be further enriched with equal, open and free participation of parents.

The parents have the highest stakes in children’s learning. They know their children the best – how and what triggers their children to act, react and also, learn. The parents are the real-life practitioners. They have a better understanding of where the future is headed, what’s going to be in demand and what’s going to get extinct. And hence a view on what should their children study.

The parents are not equipped to design the pedagogical tools. However, they are well-suited to be involved in setting the objectives of the curriculum. The process of arriving at the broad contours of the curriculum can surely be collaborative. Once the framework is confirmed, the educationists can come up with a daily timetable to achieve the mutually agreed child’s learning.

Curriculum Development As A Reflection Of Society

Today, apart from the textbooks belonging to an era of no WhatsApp, no Instagram, no Amazon in India; does not mirror the context of our society and nation. The kids do not get to study about the future that they are going to inherit. The children do not get to learn about the mistakes in judgement their fore-fathers made, the consequences of which they endure.

Why would the ills plaguing the Indian republic at the time of independence – inequity, gender discrimination, casteism continue to date? Why would the Indian fabric remain divided unless united by cricket fervour? What do our children know about the biggest existential threat – climate change? For that matter, what do we, adults, know ourselves?

What could have led to this uncharitable output? Surely, the well-meaning education establishment never intended it. But, it is what it is. The educationists cannot shrug off their shortcomings in contributing to a nation’s fragile character. What they have done till now, working in a silo, protecting their turf, running a coterie, has not yielded the results. It has got to change.

The change is the parent involvement in curriculum development. It may not be an optimal solution, but it cannot get worse than what our children are being offered today in the name of education.

The Obstacles

Education is better left to experts and parents have better things to do in life are tried and tested lame excuses of yesteryear’s era. Better to lay them to rest. They have no role in shaping today’s learning environment for children. Also, we should not let ourselves be fooled by the lure of digital apps. They only recycle the trash and have nothing novel to show for themselves.

The only argument against parent involvement in curriculum development can be – it will lead to chaos. There will be anarchy with so many voices wanting to be heard. Well, if, we adults can’t handle ourselves and make sense, we aren’t fit to reproduce, leave alone ensure the healthy learning of our children.

An adult’s inadequacy to debate and mutually conclude is not the excuse for letting down a child.

The Way Forward

It will be too much to expect from staid and indifferent Government departments like NCERT and CBSE to take the lead for this. Private publishers/schools are supposed to be clued into the requirements of the current generation to equip them for tomorrow’s world. What better way to show their intent than to get parent involvement for curriculum development.

Not just parents, everyone should have a say – artists, scientists, workers, philosophers – one and all. Contributing to nation-building is a noble task and what better than being involved in a child’s learning. Actually, the best suited are the students who have just completed their schooling. They would know, how well they were prepared and what they have missed out on for the real-world interface.

Anyway, let’s take one step at a time. The first step is Parent Involvement In Curriculum Development to revamp Indian education.

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.

Stand UP, Speak OUT!!! #IAmAParent.