Why do we need a curriculum for Preschool?
It has been identified that the early years from 2-6 are one of the most important time for brain development and learning in a child. It has been proven by experts world over repeatedly that the capacity for a child to absorb concepts and learning is the highest during these years. So, it is very necessary to identify areas of development that need to be focused on during these years of the child’s development and ensure that the same is imparted in an effective manner to the child. Blackboard learning and learning by rote does not work nowadays. The child learns through experience and repeatedly performing activities that interest him / her. For the 1st to 12th grades in schools, a curriculum is defined by whether the school follows ICSE, CBSE or State boards based on what the school has adopted. But, no such standards have been defined in the preschool segment. Hence, it is extremely important that a clear cut curriculum is defined and enabled by materials which can be used to develop a variety of skill sets, interests and intelligences in the child.
What is the methodology all about? How are children taught various concepts? Do we use books to teach children?
The curriculum is based on didactic educational materials that have been designed to teach children various concepts. These are learning aids that help the child understand various concepts and develop their skills. Books are a limited part of the curriculum and are not the core. Workbooks are mainly used as assessment tools. For the age group of 2 years to 4 years, the curriculum has a few pictorial books that are intended to develop the reading habit and understand pictorial illustrations. Books play a bigger role in the 4 years to 6 years’ curriculum, but a majority of the concepts are taught with wooden educational materials rather than books. Books just serve to reinforce some of the concepts and are used as workbooks more than anything else.
What is the ideal teacher to child ratio recommended?
The teacher to child ratio recommendations vary based on the number of children in various age groups. For children between the age group of 2 years to 3 years, the ideal ratio would be 1:8. For children between the age group of 3 to 4.5 years, the idea ratio would be 1:12, and for the age group of 4.5 years to 6 years, the ideal ratio would be 1:15
Is it a traditional classroom concept? Will we have tables and chairs and so on?
No, this is not a traditional classroom concept of having benches and desks and having a teacher teaching with a blackboard. The methodology is to have a classroom where the materials are arranged in such a way such that children will work with the materials and while doing so learn and develop various skills at their own pace. Teachers play the role of observers and directors where they present the materials to the child and then allow the child to play, learn and discover. A majority of the work and presentations are done on the ground where children sit on mats and work with low level tables called Chowkis. The table and chairs (which are limited in number) provided as part of the environment are used only for specific activities which are defined as part of the curriculum.