Colourful education

Colourful education

Children from the pre-primary section of the Saraswati Mandir Trust’s Pre-Primary School, Naupada, spent the past week rather colourfully. The school was observing what they call "colour festival," a rather fun way of keeping the little pupils excited and entertained while also learning important lessons. No, they were not celebrating Holi months in advance. This is just one of the many innovative ways that the school has figured out to make boring lessons more interesting for the toddlers.

Each day, from Monday through Friday, was assigned one of the basic colours: Red, Blue, Green, Yellow and Black. Everything done on that specified day had to do something with the colour assigned to it. For instance, Monday, which was the Red Colour Day, children and teachers dressed in red clothes. The chalk colour used on the black board was also red. Kids were also asked to carry any one red-coloured object from their homes. So on Monday, all kids were seen carrying a red item in their hands: Apples, tomatoes, doll, frock (even though some of them had worn a red dress already), compass box, water bottle and so on. It did not matter what they brought as long as it was red in colour. And most importantly, the kids were asked to pick the coloured item without the help of parents or elders. This, according to school’s headmistress Rohini Rasal, helps in sharpening their decision-making ability. Since each child brings a different object, they discuss with each other about the things they’ve got and this improves their interaction skills, while increasing their knowledge about diverse objects.

Each day of the colour festival week is spent in learning about various things that are related to the specified colour and its various shades. They even learn how basic colours can be combined to create other colours. Practical lessons, using actual demonstration, help children discover that white and red makes pink, just as black and white makes grey. Such lessons are more easily absorbed than when they simply read about it or see visuals of it in books.

When asked about the objective of a colour week, Rasal said, "A thematic approach such as this makes it easier for children to learn. And from our experience, we have seen that most children respond quite enthusiastically to such an approach. Being little, they find it rather boring to read from textbooks, even if they are illustrated." Soon these children will learn all about vegetables as their school will observe a vegetable week that will be patterned similarly, revealed Rasal.

However the children and their parents are strictly told not to buy new stuff for such affairs. So if someone doesn’t have a yellow dress, he or she can wear anything that resembles yellow, instead of buying new yellow clothes. "We don’t want to burden the parents unnecessarily," added Rasal.

Play as a tool for learning has been gaining a lot of ground in recent times. It is a fact that children learn better when they play. According to IPPA, a renowned early childhood organisation in Ireland, "Play is the most important thing a young child can do. Play is not only the essence of a happy childhood, it is the way children learn – about their bodies, their environment, ideas, events and the people and objects around them."

And why only children, play is important for adults too. It keeps them fit, both physically and mentally. As George Bernard Shaw once said, "We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."

Prudent Student
While on the subject of growing, there are some children who grow up too soon. Not physically, but in they way they thing and act. Take, for example, four-year-old Ameya Chitre, a student of the same school discussed above. Just as the class was about to break for recess, the class teacher was explaining to them about the importance of studies and hard work. She gave them the example of their mothers who take the pains of waking up early morning to prepare their lunch while they sleep on peacefully. At this, little Ameya astounded his teacher with his old-man-like remark, "If you need to acquire knowledge, you cannot afford to relax. And if you want to relax, you will never acquire knowledge." The class teacher was pleasantly surprised at these words of wisdom from a child in Junior KG – and so were we!

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