In the PVH-supported project by Bal Raksha Bharat for Early Childhood Care and Education in Bangalore (rural), involving parents in the teaching process has been a significant priority. Since July 2017, when the project began, in partnership with Makkala Jagriti, 40 mothers groups have been formed which include over 480 mothers. These Mothers Groups regularly attend meetings on a monthly basis at an Anganwadi center and at Hub center.Besides mothers helping children to imbibe the skills of reading and developing communication, they also receive training to conduct Early Learning and Math (ELM) at home activities. These activities are fun, simple and can be undertaken by caregivers who may be illiterate.The purpose of conducing ELM-H meetings is to involve parents in taking the responsibility of developing school readiness skills of their children. It also aims at following a similar pattern of learning at Angwandi centres and at home.
28-year-old Harsharani, mother of a 4-year-old, says: “Initially we believed that teaching is only meant for the teachers and that we could never do any teaching at home. Now we understand that the things we say have an impact on children and that since at the young age a child’s brain is still developing we have to be very careful about how we communicate with the child. Moreover,we learnt how to teach the child at home, by using household items if necessary.
“We also thought that a child’s mind develops after 6 years, that this was the growth period. After coming for the trainings, we understood that it is from the womb to 6 years of age that the maximum growth happened. This has helped us to think differently and look after children differently. This was our biggest understanding. “Now that we have this knowledge, we can also share the same with others who do not have access to such trainings. I also realized how I should give more attention to my child and less attention to the TV – my focus has to shift to the child.”
23-year-old Shobha, mother of 3-and-a-half-year-old, adds, “We also learn from our children, who attend classes at the Anganwadi center – as they come home and share with us many of the things that they learn. My daughter Karuna even takes the slate to her grandmother, who does not know how to read or write, and persuades her to learn something to write. The children observe what is taught at the Anganwadi and come and repeat that at home – be it a story or a song, they are constantly engaging with that content, says 23-year-old Shobha.”
The facilitator of the trainings for mothers says that she has been told that children try to replicate the ambience of the Anganwadi class at home – they will place a colourful mat in one corner of the room and assemble various items to learn and play just as they do at the Anganwadi. “It’s fantastic that the learning journey does not come to an end at the Anganwadi but continues when the children go back to their homes.”