A step Towards holistic development of children in formative years
There is no “one” right model when it comes to early childhood education. The right model is one that is culturally appropriate and locally designed. We can definitely get inspired and ape certain pedagogies and practices from popular approaches but blindly implementing them in our country is not right.
– by K R Maalathi – Partner & CEO, Auuro Educational Services
The right early educational framework is one that adheres to the needs of children who are going to be developing in that environment. It needs to be developmentally appropriate. K R Maalathi- Partner & CEO, Auuro Educational Services shares her views on the same.
TPS: It is said that the emotional health of an individual is nurtured and built at the pre-primary and primary levels. What do you think a school can do in this direction?
K R Maalathi: Why do you think parents send children to school? Basically, to get an education and to learn new things! Social and emotional development is directly linked to learning. Ample research has proven that children who experience emotional difficulties have trouble participating in class and children who are mentally healthy, in the sense that those who are emotionally stable, exhibit greater inclination to participate in activities and demonstrate higher academic prowess. Most children start school early these days, in fact many start school as soon as they learn to walk. Consequently, schools are entrusted with the responsibility of child development, which includes social and emotional skill development. So, it is vital that schools focus on holistic development of children in the pre-primary and primary years because it is the very foundation for academic and intellectual progress. Children need to form trusting relationships around them for intentional learning to take place which means that schools need to invest heavily on equipping their pre-primary and primary teachers training.
TPS: Quite often, parents don’t seem to accept the emotional challenges faced by their children. How do we make them realise this?
K R Maalathi: Let me be honest here. Parents don’t accept the emotional shortcomings faced by their children because most parents are emotionally drained themselves. How can an emotionally drained person empathise? In all levels of our society, both men and women are facing so many issues day-in and day out. For some, work takes up most of their time and mind. In the case of women, on one side those who become mothers are confused themselves as they aren’t prepared to take up the responsibility of raising a child full time as they don’t want to give up their career and on the other hand, women are constantly criticised whether they work or stay-at-home for their parenting style. With families getting smaller, young moms don’t get much support in raising children and most do it alone. Children of working moms left with nannies or raised in day-care from a young age have their own emotional attachment issues. Then there are issues relating to family. Everyone is emotionally and physically stressed and tired. Most of the times most parents themselves are struggling in some form or the other. So, there is no one particular reason why parents don’t accept the emotional challenges faced by their own kids. It’s really unfortunate that kids bear the entire brunt of these challenges. I strongly believe that building strong relationship between the adultand the child will solve this issue. The best things school can do is create a nurturing environment that helps developsocial and emotional skills in young children. Children are in dire need to consistently receive warmth, affection and care from school and teachers hold the key to build trusting relationships.
TPS: What is the role of a school counsellor in facilitating the growth profile of the students at the formative level?
K R Maalathi: Generally, everyone associates the role of a counsellor at the preschool or primary as the one who works with the special children. But the role of a counsellor needn’t be limited to only that. You see a counsellor is someone who is an expert in child psychology and to build emotional skills in children, teachers need the expert. At the pre-primary level, teachers can work with counsellors and design and develop activities that foster social and emotional development in the classroom. Primary school children (6-13-year-old) are at the stage of formation of identity and self-concept. They are open to a myriad of options and that is why the availability of guidance and counselling services are essential at this stage because it is better to heal kids than to mend them. Also, the biggest advantage the counsellor holds is the unique position they are at, between children and parents, children and teachers and parents and teachers.
TPS: A number of models have come into the school system to deal with pre-primary children. Many seem to have only a commercial dimension. What do you think would be a right model for dealing with the primary children.?
K R Maalathi: There is no one right model when it comes to early childhood education.People should understand that the famous approaches that are in demand like the Montessori system, Waldorf system, Reggio Emilia or the Whariki system, each of these were developed and designed to be implemented in their own country. They are all culturally and country specific. So, the right model is one that is culturally appropriate and locally designed. We can definitely get inspired and ape certain pedagogies and practices from all these popular approaches but blindly implementing them in our country is not right The right early education framework is one that adheres to the needs of children who are going to be developing in that environment. It should to be developmentally appropriate.
TPS: There appears to be a lot of interest among parents to prepare their children for higher studies or for populist achievements like reality shows. How do you think this could hamper the holistic development profile of the learners?
K R Maalathi: Some children are natural born prodigies. It is definitely not wrong for parents to have aspirations for their children to shine and succeed, but it should be done so keeping in mind the cost of it all. Initially children will agree to be a part of the reality show because of all the attention they get from their parents and others. Things like trying out new clothes, dressing up, gaining popularity or the celebrity status and missing school might appeal tremendously to young children, but after a while when the excitement fades away it eventually turns to stress. And stress for young children is bad, it hampers all facets of development. One of the most common grievances for child stars when they become adults is that they always feel they missed being a child during their childhood. Parents need not try too hard to make their child a prodigy. If their child is one, he or she will naturally shine and achieve without any pressure. The best thing any parent can give their child is the joy of childhood. Have you heard anyone complain they had a happy childhood?
At the pre-primary level, teachers can work with counsellors and design and develop activities that foster social and emotional development in the classroom. Primary school children (6-13-year-old) are at the stage of formation of identity and self-concept. They are open to a myriad of options and that is why the availability of guidance and counselling services are essentialat this stage because it is better to heal kids than to mend them.
Dr. K R Maalathi proudly calls herself a “Teacher” any day, rather than holding the title as the “Partner & CEO of Auuro Educational Services”. A great dreamer, meticulous planner, a person who believes in the ability of self and others around and a woman of action. Maalathi wishes to create a world where children across the globe irrespective of their socio-economic background receive the best childhood and education by caring adults in a happy environment.
She is a Certified Leader & Practitioner of Early Education from the world-renowned Harvard University, possessing a doctorate in Education from the University of Contemporary Studies and Masters in leadership and curriculum development from university of Cincinnati, USA, she also holds a master trainer diploma from University of Cambridge, UK. She has an amazing track record of client list across the world for having set up 18 International Schools, 16 CBSE schools and 2 Multi Disability Centres in India, Africa and Qatar.
Dr. Maalathi is the founding member of “Cancer Vision Foundation.”
She has been bestowed with the title Kuzhandai Illakiya Ratna by the All India Radio and Doordarshan. She also won the KCG Excellence “Women Achiever award” for 2017, “Change Agent” award by Young Leaders India in the year 2017 and “Exceptional Leader of Excellence” by Women Economic forum in Aug 2018.