Concept note - School Readiness Curriculum What is School Readiness? A primary school teacher “The child must meet the demands of schooling which comprises exclusively of academic skills related to literacy and numeracy acquired before entering primary school.” According to a preschooler parent view “Their child attains 5 plus years of age, and also learns alphabets and numbers in Anganwadi/balawadi/ECE. But recent researches and literature reveals as a common theme that school readiness is a ‘holistic’ concept, incorporating cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical components (Janus and Offord, 2007: 2) Children’s readiness for school is made up of multiple components and shaped by numerous factors. Accordingly, there are 5 distinct developmental domains that influence readiness namely Physical well-being and motor development Social and emotional development Background of experiences Approaches to learn Cognitive and language development, including pre-literacy and pre numeracy skills. Physical Well-Being and Motor Development Healthy children are more able to engage in the full range of life experiences that promote early learning. Children’s motor skills and coordination have an important influence on their cognitive and social-emotional development, as well as their academic achievement. Social and Emotional Development Children’s school experience is more positive and productive when they have a sense of personal well-being established through stable, caring relationships in their early lives. Emotional health and social competence enable children to participate in learning and form good relationships with teachers and peers. Background of experiences Children will not enter school ready to learn unless families, schools and communities provide the environments and experiences that support the physical, social, emotional, language, literacy, and cognitive development of infants, toddlers and preschool children. Efforts to improve school readiness are most effective when they embrace the rich cultural and language backgrounds of families and children. Approaches to Learning Children’s school success depends not only on academic skills, but also on the learning styles, habits and attitudes with which they approach learning. Curiosity, creativity, independence, cooperativeness and persistence enhance early learning and development. Cognition and language development (Pre literacy and Pre numeracy skills) Cognitive skills, reflecting an array of experiences in the early years, help make children ready to acquire new knowledge and information. Through cognitive development, children learn to observe, note similarities and differences solve problems and ask questions (Mathematical knowledge and Abstract thinking). Language proficiency is a key predictor of school success. Early literacy skills (size of vocabulary, recognizing letters, understanding letter and sound relationships) at kindergarten entry are good predictors of children’s reading abilities throughout their educational careers. Language and literacy skills enable children to develop cognitive skills and knowledge and to interact effectively with peers and adults. Importance of school readiness The larger the gap at school entry, the harder it is to close. If we want all children to read proficiently by fifth grade—and to grow into healthy teens and productive adults—then we must make wise investments in the early years. The first five years of life are critical to a child’s lifelong development. Young children’s earliest experiences and environments set the stage for future development and success in school and life. Children have far greater capacities for learning than previously believed, in pre-school period they are very curious and use their imagination to guess or draw conclusions, seek answers to their questions and insist on having their questions being answered. So schools must be ready to address the diverse needs of the children and families in their community and be committed to the success of every child. Early experiences actually influence brain development, establishing the neural connections that provide the foundation for language, reasoning, problem solving, social skills, behavior and emotional health. Children’s readiness for school is also influenced by number of other factors besides participation in a high-quality preschool programme. Research reveals that the following factors significantly influence the process of school readiness: o Socioeconomic status o Mother’s education level o Home and community environment The policy makers and stake holders are well aware that the majority of children who attend government schools in our country are victims of the above serious risk factors, and the existing preschool programmes that some of them do attend fail to nurture their minds. Therefore it becomes crucial for us to ascertain whether our primary schools have been made ready for our children, rather than thinking wether our children are ready for school. The curriculum and pedagogy of class 1 in all our government schools must cease to focus only on isolated academic skills and repetitive drill. The class 1 curriculum must attempt to readdress the inequalities in early life, with the aim of developing scientific thinking skills in children and support them in this sense; Children should be given opportunities to use their senses to make research, satisfy their curiosity, see the cause and effect relationships, bring ideas forward and make guesses while appropriate education environments should be presented to them (Bal, 1993, p. 146). These diversified needs can be addressed by structured readiness curriculum. To fulfill the gap in quality primary education at early stage need for school readiness emerged. “MANCHI PRARAMBHAM” A Readiness Curriculum, Methods and Materials for class 1 Children entering school for the first time in class are a motley group, to help children become successful learners in primary school; “developing readiness” involves giving them the following opportunities: To To To To To To To communicate and express themselves freely think for themselves, a reason observe and question use their imaginations see the cause and effect relationships bring ideas forward make guesses The curriculum for the first few months of class 1 should therefore focus on the above abilities, rather than immediate use of text book to teach reading and writing. More specific activities for reading readiness and mathematical readiness then can be introduced, which gradually lead to the actual teaching of reading, writing and mathematics. “Manchiprarabham” focuses on activities for intellectual stimulations to children who are entering school in class 1. It includes tangible materials for teaching and learning of essential concepts and reasoning abilities that all children need to develop at this stage, also materials for specific skills for in language, beginning of reading, writing and mathematics will prepare them for further learning in primary school. For this purpose, an activitybased curriculum together about 50-60 sets of materials are provided in the package. The comprehensive Teacher’s Hand book comprises simple step-by-step directions on how to do and deal each of the activities. It also contains several ideas for activities that can be devised by using the most ordinary, everyday things found in the immediate environment. The curriculum contains different activities under specific domains as follows Getting children ready for School; getting the school ready for children Thinking things out (Cognitive activities) •Matching •Classification •Making relations •Perceiving patterns •problem solving Begining to Count & Calculate •Mathematical vocabulary •Pre concepts of less,more,greater than ,less than concepts. •Counting, adddtions and subtraction skills •Numerical and number, face value concept. Developing Spoken language •Listening •Conversations •Vocubulary activities •Language games •Story telling •Role plays,songs/rhymes Creative activities •Drawing •Colouring •Pasting •Thread, Finger painting •Activities related to fine motor skills •Magic painting etc.. Getting ready for Reading and Writing •Orientation to print text,visual/auditory discriminations •Letter-sound association •Motivation to read •Eye and hand coordination Out door and Indoor games •Physical activities •Games useful for gross motor skill/ long muscle development games.