Reading and writing are important skills for preschoolers but what about kindness, compassion and honesty? Sadhu Vaswani’s Little Lamps introduces these crucial values to toddlers and preschoolers, through fun and meaningful activities and experiences.
“How can a teacher talk to a toddler about the importance of telling the truth?” asks Shyamili Mehra, an early-years educator at Sadhu Vaswani Mission’s Little Lamps, a modern preschool in Bangalore that believes in communicating value education in preschool to toddlers and young learners.
“Kids do not understand what ‘telling the truth’ means, but we can use simple examples to show them what it is all about. Let’s say the child breaks something that belongs to mamma, he or she can set it right by saying “I am sorry I broke it.” This is something that we believe should be communicated to children at an early age.”
Revered Dada J.P Vaswani believes that every child had infinite potential, and that education should instil the right values in children. Little Lamps is founded on these very principles and what makes the preschool so special is that it introduces these values at such an early age.
Activity-based value education
Little Lamps weaves themes like kindness, compassion, hard work and forgiveness into its curriculum. The team uses rich and meaningful experiences to make these values come alive. July and August, for instance, saw the children learn all about forgiveness. “If a child pushed another child, we would encourage him or her to say sorry and for the other child to forgive. Each child got a heart after engaging positively in conflicting situations and for not retaliating,” says Mehra. It may seem complicated to us but children are very receptive to such cues.
In September, the children learned about love and kindness through stories about Karna from the Mahabharatha and other stories about family and love for our parents. “We teach them about how parents give them unconditional love and why one’s family is very important,” says Mehra. “This is something that will go on to define their character.”
October and November’s theme is the value of hard work. They were encouraged to take care of their things, keep their school and home clean, tasks that will invariably teach them to care about their environment and their surroundings, and to get a sense of responsibility.
To teach the children what compassion is all about, the teachers introduced the children to kindness to animals and all living creatures. “Some children are scared of animals and we work on that. We want to sensitize them to animals and how they are harmless if you do not bother them,” says Mehra.
Gardening to boost team work and cooperation
The curriculum is tailored in such a way that by January, the children all know one another very well and it makes sense to introduce themes like team work and cooperation. This is when gardening comes into the picture. Anyone who visits Little Lamps will fall in love with its garden, with its pebbled pathways, lush foliage, and colourful watering cans.
“Gardening gets the children to work together. They learn so many things this way – patience, hard work and a regard for the environment and all living things,” says Shweta Mangharam, who facilitates the gardening sessions for the children at Little Lamps.
“They also learn about how plants grow. The best part is that the children get a value for life and sense of ownership and love for the plants that they have so tenderly nurtured. The little ones also pick their own vegetables, so apart from the fun and rigor of working in a garden, other sensory aspects are triggered by the experience. A few weeks ago, the children picked beans and took them home. Children learn not to trample plants or pluck flowers. They learn to value nature.
Children also learn about Indian herbs and seasonal plants. They water and nurture their own plants and develop a deep appreciation of nature.”
What makes the value-based curriculum at Little Lamps really tick?
Each theme isn’t illustrated separately but is woven into the curriculum at every stage. February and March sees all the themes of the previous months coalescing into value-based activities that works in parallel with other activities and lessons in the class, and not as a special period during the day.
From the time the child sets foot into the school to the time he or she exits, there is some value or other being integrated into the child’s belief system. And belief systems begin early.
The preschool’s teachers, Nain Wadhwa, Shyamali Mehra, Raakhee Asnani, Geethu Menda and Shweta Mangharam, are astute in understanding the temperament of a toddler. They use audio, video, role play, drama, stories and art in exposing children to these life skills. More importantly, the teachers’ own day-to-day actions reflect this, because children learn by example. The curriculum works on all these basic levels.
Nain Wadhwa, the founder and visionary behind the preschool says, “Children get their cues from their parents and other significant adults in their lives, which is why Little Lamps’ value-based curriculum offers a holistic approach – the preschool involves the parents in a major way. Its value-based program builds an academic environment that focuses on a child’s overall character.”
About Little Lamps
Little Lamps offers pre-nursery, nursery, LKG and UKG programs. The preschool aims to build the foundation of reading, writing and numeracy through programs like Jolly Phonics (UK), Multiple Intelligence and ETL (Hong Kong), programs that are interactive, multi sensorial, child-friendly and time-tested in their efficacy.
The curriculum combines these modern techniques with value-based education and pluralizes the curriculum to suit children with different learning abilities. The Sadhu Vaswani International School is geared to be one of Bangalore’s premier educational institutions offering a strong academic and co-curricular education from grades 1 to 12.