A space where there are many other children, the same age as your child. There is a safe place for children to run, play, climb, swing and paddle. There are toys to play with indoors and outside. There are adults who love children and are committed to taking care of each child and stimulating their curiosity to grow cognitively as well. And then of course, the countless activities, field trips, project, resource persons coming to school, events and exhibitions….
Isn’t school cool?
A year of not going to school physically has helped each family bond better, I am sure. It has thrown up challenges mainly related to keeping the young, agile, ever wandering mind creative, stimulated and cared for. The problems have set in when the parents have had to go back to work, leaving their young wards with the grandparents or nannies.
A preschool knows and respects the unending energy that children have. The day plan in a preschool is designed to channelize this energy positively, before it takes on a destructive bend. With so many other children to play with a preschool nurtures the socio-emotional development of the child. Children learn all about teaming up, playing co-operatively and sharing with one another. Leadership skills are built on the playing field more than in the classrooms. In the Helen O’Grady International Preschool we have ‘Organised Games’ where teachers and children learn and play group games together. We often notice that children learn these group games and try to engage in them, on their own, during the outdoor play sessions. During these times, one sees different children take the leadership in organizing the games, explaining the rules; we see negotiations about which game to play first and which one to play next and so on. These are life skills that we rarely can build at home. Children learn to bear with their ideas being accepted sometimes and rejected sometimes. Another very crucial learning that the play time brings to the child.
In the Helen O’Grady International Preschool we have a drama class once a week. The vocabulary that they pick up, the way they forget themselves, when they are playing another role.. all this reduces their inhibition, their hesitancy and they become confident to speak, to make mistakes,, because the only rule in drama class is that there is no right and no wrong as far as ideas are concerned. The drama class looks at improving Imagination, Visualization, Spoken English, better pronunciation, better body confidence, collaboration, expression without words, intonation and conversation skills. Children enjoy becoming someone else! One day they are pirates, the next day they are faries and gnomes, the third day they may be a lion and fourth day an astronaut!
The Helen O’Grady Preschool is inspired by the Reggio Emilia Approach. The atelier is a place where loose parts find themselves laid out for the child to create the art that he or she wants. A provocation related to what they are learning or seeing becomes the starting point and there is no end to the creativity that children are able to express with paint, clay, mud, paper or twigs!
The role of a teacher in a preschool needs to be that of a co-learner and a teacher needs to be sensitive enough to help each child collaborate, cooperate, learn at his/her own pace, take time to introspect, imagine, wonder, express, play… At the Helen O’Grady preschool, very often it is the children that dictate the learning of the day and how that learning happens.
Mud Kitchens are a favourite with the children! The sensory experience of the mud mixed with various proportions of water brings delight as little else does, to the children. They set up mud kitchen, make pies and pancake and call out to sell their wares! Fun all the way and so much skill building happening through fun.
So whether it is the outdoors or the co-curricular activities or the main learning spaces themselves, the Helen O’Grady preschool is all set to have a lot of fun with the children once they come back to school.
Because, you see, School is, after all, Cool; really cool!