(Written by – Ms. Jayeeta Ganguly – Vice Principal, Kunskapsskolan Bengaluru School)
“The first five years have so much to do with how the next 80 turn out.” – Bill Gates
Children between the ages of 3 and 6 might seem like they are only just beginning life’s journey. But in fact, more than 85 per cent of their brain development is already in place. Hence, it is pivotal that they are provided a learning environment that stimulates their cognitive abilities to the best possible extent. A new global report by UNICEF calls to action for every country to invest in this critical early start, by supporting universal access to quality early education – for every child.
Now, an intriguing question for educators is – what skills will be relevant twenty years from now? In an amalgamated physical-virtual world, what should we teach them so that they are successful on the global platform? Preparing our kids for an economy and careers, that may be completely
different, is a challenge that requires a lot of foresightedness. Educationists across the world have narrowed down the learning needs of our young global citizens to the following core areas:
Intertwining these learning needs in the pre-primary curriculum thus becomes absolutely essential and at Kunskapsskolan, we have made the aforementioned learning needs the framework for our early childhood curriculum. In the theme based curriculum implemented via the KED program at Kunskapsskolan schools, the learners experience the contentment that comes from overcoming challenges and reaching their goals. The KED program fosters the ability to focus , persevere, and be
Every learner is guided to set learning goals for themselves and works with their mentors to develop a set of strategies to achieve their goals. This helps them take accountability for their own learning. Through the KED Program, students learn via active and purposeful play where the child’s immediate
environment is used as an educational aid. The experiential learning based curriculum encompasses the learning needs of the global generation through various activities revolving around the development of literacy, numeracy, motor skills, personal and social development, creative arts and
expression, and cognition. The significant steps taken in these capacities lead to accomplishment of bigger goals.
Development of language skills is fundamental to the social, emotional and intellectual growth of children. It is much more than reading or writing – it is about how we understand and communicate in society. It is connected to social practices and relationships, language and culture, and development of knowledge. In the KED program, the language curriculum is dedicated to development in the areas of knowledge and skills – listening, speaking, reading, writing, perceiving and expressing. In early years education when children develop language, it is more than mastering the basic skills, they learn to value the facility of language and to use it responsibly. They learn to express feelings and opinions and they are guided to support their opinions with sound arguments and research. These skills are developed in a continuum through various integrated learning sessions including Base Group sessions, stories, rhymes and reflection etc.
As we progress into a technology and information centered society, the ability to think critically, analyse, solve problems, adapt and to communicate effectively are essential skills desired. Numeracy
skills are a powerful learning tool and it equips students with the knowledge, ability and a mind to communicate and contribute effectively. As part of KED methodology, mathematical structures and processes are introduced in early years to foster tools for reasoning, problem solving, logical and analytical thinking and developing their spatial awareness. Numerical concepts and skills are developed through various activities and all activities follow the sequence of grasping bigger abstract concepts through concrete smaller steps. The progressive and spiral curriculum includes activities that are practical and relevant to their lives to develop interest, mathematical understanding, problem solving skills and technological skills which they can apply in their daily lives and eventually
in other spheres.
Motor skills development is important in child’s early life, as their physical development is related to their overall well-being. Motor skills helps them to explore the world around them, which promotes cognitive, speech, and sensory development. It helps to build confidence and independence. As part of the KED program, motor skills goal are targeted to develop gross motor, fine motor, sensory motor and spatial awareness which contribute to overall health and well-being of the child.
Social-emotional skills are essential for connecting with others. It is understanding your thoughts and feelings, and being able to relate to others. Socio-emotional learning motivates students to learn critical skills such as the ability to effectively apply the knowledge, attitudes, and skills
necessary to understand and manage emotions, communicate and connect with others, set and achieve positive goals, feel and show empathy for others and establish and maintain positive relationships, and make responsible decisions. It is an essential skills we focus on and develop
through stories, teamwork, collaboration, role plays and other learning opportunities.
Cognitive skills are the core skills that your brain uses for acquisition of knowledge, manipulation of information and reasoning. It helps students to evaluate, analyse, and remember. Cognitive development in early years refers to building the skills for problem solving, language acquisition and ‘learning to learn.’ Therefore, it is extremely important and forms the foundation for learning of other skills as they progress. In KED program, we provide them opportunities to develop cognitive skills through various activities and play: experimenting, exploring and experiencing.
In addition to providing opportunities and space for learning, immense focus is given of observations for learning which helps the facilitators to create personal learning path for each child and help the students set goals for themselves and guide them to reflect on what they have learned and what strategies they need to use. With the given approach, we aim to achieve the goal of nurturing sensible, successful, and empathetic global citizens, always keeping the child at the centre.