By Farooq Shah
SRINAGAR- As part of the advocacy of the NIPUN Bharat Mission, students belonging to first, second and three grades across all the ten districts of the Kashmir valley participated in a week-long Foundation Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) festival conducted by the State Council of Educational Research and Training (SCERT).
The event, which concluded on Monday, April 18, was attended by hundreds of FLN teachers trained specifically for the purpose.
Academic Officer, Sheikh Gulzar Ahmad, who is also the Divisional Nodal Officer (DNO) of the NIPUN Bharat Mission, had drafted the weeklong calendar.
Stressing on the adoption of a fun-based pedagogy in teaching children, Ahmad said the new education policy aka NEP-2020 has ensured the inclusion of fun and play in the teaching-learning process.
“Because it promotes children’s cognitive, social, emotional, psychological and physical development, play-based learning (PBD) should take the central position in the teaching-learning process,” Ahmad said. “A play-based approach is characterized by learning through exploration, discovery, and trial-and-error.”
The children took part in many different activities planned by the FLN teachers that included story time, drawing time, walk time, play time, song time and library time.
In the story time sessions aimed at improving their oral and comprehension skills, children were made to listen to tales in their mother tongue.
“Storytelling is the oldest form of communication that strengthens the minds of young children,” said Mohammad Younis Malik, a headmaster. “Storytelling not only provides an insight into other cultures and backgrounds but it promotes empathy among the children.”
In the drawing time sessions, children engaged themselves in making toys from different materials including clay, pebbles and sticks. Children used crayons to draw different sketches while displaying their gross motor control, eye-hand coordination, visual perception and spatial attention.
“Painting helps children develop their decision-making skills,” said Dr Shabnum, HOD, Education in Languages Wing of the SCERT. “They need to work out which colour to choose to paint a part of the painting.”
Painting, Dr Shabnum said, can also play a therapeutic role for a child who might be feeling different emotions—subtle or extreme in nature.
During the walk time, the children were allowed to explore the surrounding outside their school premises. They asked questions about plants, animals, birds, water bodies, people, and many other objects they saw.
Playtime was the moment of utmost happiness for the children. It helped the children understand the importance of playing while observing the rules of the game.
“Child play can promote brain development in many ways, including providing the child with a better understanding of the world and setting the groundwork for later brain growth,” said Mutahharah Haneef, a teacher educator posted at the SCERT. “An environment enriched with play, sensory play, and play toys provide the perfect life experiences as building blocks.”
The benefits of singing in early childhood were amply exploited during the song time sessions wherein the children sang different songs in their mother tongue and home language.
“Children learn to build their vocabulary and topics through songs, much of which they may not hear in everyday interactions,” Haneef said. “It’s not just words that children pick up from singing – but the entire language structure.”
Through songs, she said, children are exposed to the grammar of a language as well as sentence construction and word order.
The week concluded with the children visiting the libraries at high and higher secondary schools in the neighbourhood of their schools.
Be Part of Quality Journalism
Quality journalism takes a lot of time, money and hard work to produce and despite all the hardships we still do it. Our reporters and editors are working overtime in Kashmir and beyond to cover what you care about, break big stories, and expose injustices that can change lives. Today more people are reading Kashmir Observer than ever, but only a handful are paying while advertising revenues are falling fast.