Foundational learning is the pillar of equitable and quality education. Learnings around literacy, numeracy, cognitive, physical, creative, social and emotional skills will enhance conceptual understanding and abilities to apply knowledge, ensuring a successful future in higher education, career and life. Four-year-old Shagun Bada from West Singbhum, Jharkhand, also needed a boost to get the right start to her education.
Shagun’s parents are vegetable farmers. They had got Shagun enrolled in the neighbourhood Anganwadi Centre. But she was at that age where she needed nurturing at home as well. Her parents didn’t know how to help her with her foundational learning and relied entirely on the Anganwadi teacher. Shagun did not make progress as a result of this fragmented learning.
Bal Raksha Bharat’s Academic Support Fellows (ASFs) began canvassing the area to boost stimulation for Early Childhood Education at home. During home visits, they encouraged parents to engage with their children at home to nurture their learning. The parents were also counselled on boosting children’s math and language skills with tools and resources available at home.
Puja Kumari, the ASF from Bal Raksha Bharat, visited Shagun’s home and realised there was a gap in Shagun’s learning, and she was lagging. She explained to her parents that the primary purpose of her visit was to develop an understanding of Early Literacy and Maths (ELM) skills among parents. Puja also demonstrated a few activities to Shagun’s mother that she could do with her daughter.
After a week, when Puja visited Shagun, she found her demeanour lively and interactive. Her mother also said they had a lot of fun doing the activities together. She also said Shagun is now recognising two-digit numbers and alphabets. “Shagun is only four years old, and she is taking so much interest in learning and making steady progress. It’s making us very happy,” said her mother. Shagun’s mother agreed to create a scribbling space at home to develop her writing skills. Puja also asked her mother to join the parents’ meetings every month, where parents exchange their experiences and apprise each other of the children’s progress at home.
Shagun’s mother also expressed concern that the Anganwadi centre doesn’t regularly open as the Anganwadi teacher has to divide her time between two centres. She regrets that her child’s learning is not continuous, and she is not going to the centre every day. Despite the challenges, Shagun’s mother said, “I would engage her at home every day because I want to give her good education.”
Bal Raksha Bharat has designed the Gulmohar curriculum as a low-tech solution to take learnings to the doorsteps of children, connecting Anganwadi workers, teachers and parents. It has a pool of activities that helps parents with tools and tips to keep children in the 3-6 age group engaged at home using household items like fruits and vegetables. The framework is based on the principle that children learn best through play and interacting with their environment.