Early Childhood Education and Care: Keeping the Child in the Centre of it All
(Published in Digital Learning World Education Report in August – 2014.)
Early childhood education and care can lay the foundations for later success in life in terms of education, well-being, employability and social integration, especially for children from disadvantaged backgrounds. For institutions, it becomes all the more crucial to keep the focus on the child and his needs. Brain development in the early years of a child should be encouraged through innovative measures, believes Swati Popat, President, Early Childhood Association and Director, Podar Jumbo Kids. “Reggio Emilia, as a philosophy, is taking the world by storm. It is superseding Montessori, which is sad as both should be used together,” she observed. The scenario in India in terms of children’s education is far from ideal. “Children are not at the centre.
Parents put pressure on what a child has to do, and children mostly don’t follow their talents, abilities and passions,” observed Rajeev Gupta, Director, Golden Bells Pre School. There is too much importance attached to IQ though it constitutes only 25 percent of one’s existence, he says. “Why can’t we focus on Adversity Quotient (AQ), Creativity Quotient (CQ) and Emotional Quotient (EQ)?” he asks. Experts also suggest that brain research can tell a lot about a child’s inclinations. “We should be child centric. We must look at brain research and what that tells us about how children work and then translate that theory into actual practice in our classrooms,” said Anshul Arora, Founder and CEO, Edvance Group. While discussing ways to keep the child at the centre of developments related to him/her, it is essential that teachers and parents understand that each child is different from the other and their needs too differ accordingly. “The more they are exposed to sensory experience, the more enriched they are,” said Hazel Siromoni, Managing Director, Maple Bear. “Also, we look at skill development at a later stage in life. We forget that skills develop right at the early years,” she added.
Parents and teachers have a crucial role to play when it comes to the child’s overall development. The process, however, is not temporary. “It takes every minute of your working life to keep the child at the centre of it all,” said Pooja Goyal, Director, Intellitots. “You have to take parents and teachers along to keep the child at the centre of it all. We have to take the teachers along to implement the strategies,” she added. From `1.2 trillion in 2010 to `2.3 trillion in 2015, the pre-school industry is growing at a fast pace. “In 2010, it was a `1.2 trillion industry and will be worth `2.3 trillion by 2015, which means over 15 per cent growth. The demand is growing in tier II and III cities and investment from private players is increasing,” A S Ganesh, Founder & Managing Director, Smartkidz Educare India Pvt. Ltd informed. “Education is useless without values. We need to keep young age in mind where the ability to absorb is very high,” he added. With such a fast pace of growth registered in this industry, it becomes all the more crucial that the child’s needs are understood and discussed in detail between teachers and parents. Understanding a child’s individual needs and acting upon it will go a long way in shaping the future of the child and his ability to contribute to the society and the nation at large.