This blog is written by President Early Childhood Association Dr. Swati Popat Vats
N.C.E.R.T and N.C.T.E do talk about D.A.P (Developmentally appropriate Practice/ Curriculum) and promote it on their websites and seminars but yet the emphasis is strongly on rigorous academics and rote learning and drill activity in preschools as preschools in most states of India are viewed as a preparatory and introductory stage for primary school. So the emphasis is on ensuring that the child is able to write sentences, do addition and subtraction (some schools even teach 5 year olds multiplication and division) answer general knowledge questions and come out with flying colours in formal interview sessions!
I think the problem is when we refer to these years as preschool or pre primary- so the lopsided emphasis is that it is a school that is before the primary school, so naturally it is meant to prepare a child for primary school! Whereas actually the kindergarten years are to prepare a child for life, living and learning. Sadly we only prepare them for learning and that too the incorrect kind!
How can this scenario change? what I am about to suggest may cause a storm and open a hornet’s nest but if a debate on this can be sparked and lead to change in the kindergarten years, then I don’t mind opening the proverbial Pandora’s box-
1. Tie up pre primary with the primary syllabus, which means instead of the primary especially the standard one dictating to the kindergarten about what each child should be able to do before stepping into standard one, it should be the other way around, let the kindergarten give the primary school, where to start from.
2. Kindergarten and even primary curriculum usually do not feature in the curriculum definitions of educational boards, but I think if educational boards joined in by specifying what should and should not be taught to primary and kindergarten years then schools would be ‘able to’ implement D.A.P. easily and effectively.
3. D.A.P can serve as that proverbial bridge that will take the child smoothly from ‘pre primary’ to primary and beyond.
4. We also need to give a better status to kindergarten, as they are functioning with underpaid adults who lack professional and specialized educational qualifications.
5. Teachers need to be better qualified so that they will be able to understand their role instead of functioning as ‘powerless’ people just implementing and inflicting incorrect practices on little children.
6. (The more time young children spend in poor quality settings the lower they score on measures of cognitive and social skills(n.a.e.y.c early child care research network 2000,2003)
7. Involve doctors and other professionals in driving home the message.
8. Talk to schools about maturation, and experience
9. Prepare parents and children for the primary school transition.
10. More purposeful advocacy for kindergarten must talk about its strengths and potential research based contributions to children.
11. Kindergarten movement needs a clarity of purpose otherwise there is huge risk of this movement being swept aside or blown off its course by the storms of change raging in educational establishments.
12. Let the change in educational norms, methods and goals begin with kindergarten - Kindergarten Is Too Important Not To Protect And Nurture So, Lets Protect Kindergarten And Childhood With D.A.P.(naeyc)
13. Why do we still stick to the 4 line books for pre primary when the goal is to make the child write on single lines? Three lines will serve the purpose better. Then why put the children through the process of unlearning and learning?
14. Why cursive writing for pre schoolers? First teach them print and the move to cursive writing in the primary years. When 99% of reading that he is exposed to is in print? After all to write he must first read and he reads in print
Some more points to ponder…….
Frankly speaking children require five skills in life that is the core of education, the five skills are –
1. Physical Skills
2. Communicative Skills
3. Social Skills
4. Emotional Skills
5. Intellectual Skills
When parents and schools only stress on the learning of the 3 R’s or academics, only the 5th skill is being developed, so what about the other 4 skills will they not be important in life? They are extremely important and maybe this misplaced focus on only one skill is the real reason why this generation is not as adaptive, emotionally strong and able to relate, unlearn and learn in their life work.
It’s high time we educate parents on how schools should educate their kids!