By Sonia Agarwal Bajaj, Educationist
While the education industry is undergoing waves of innovation, the largest seismic wave of change is taking place in the early education space. A few decades ago, preschools were restricted to a place for them to socialise, learn nursery rhymes, learn their basic alphabets and shapes and participate in a few art activities. Today, preschools are far from this and some leading preschools in India are truly reimagining early education.
Intimate Faculty Ratios One of the primary factors that has led change in this space is a more intimate learning environment. Most preschools offer a low children to faculty ratio, allowing faculty and children to engage in a more interactive and effective manner. Most preschools today now operate with a 1:10 or lower ratio now days.
Rise of STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts & Mathematics) Contrary to the belief that STEAM subjects are very complex for young minds, new age educators believe that early introduction to STEAM helps foster curiosity, inquiry and problem solving skills.
Digital Integration Digital exposure is arguably considered detrimental towards screen addiction and reduced focus in early years; however, digital integrations can also be used to enhance learning for the child if done so correctly and age appropriately. Many schools are integrating digital content and concepts to their curriculums to leverage concepts and educational content that is available to boost their learning. These programs must be done not exceeding 15-20 min in duration a day.
Multi-curriculum Most leading preschools today opt for multiple support curriculums that fuel their core philosophy. These allow them to give the right learning environment and techniques to further interest and learning in areas such as music, sports, phonetics, early reading and theatre.
Real World Problem Solving As preschools evolve to become more experiential, their core curriculums adapt real world life problems around them and help raise early awareness towards key global issues. Many preschools help build awareness and an action mindset by discussing these crises and discussing possible solutions and efforts one can take to facilitate water conservation, environment conservation, climate change, religious tolerance and peace.
Collaborative Learning with Global Peers As preschools readily share their learnings and victories on their social and content creating platforms, educators around the world are able to collaborate and share knowledge. This is starting to allow educators to feel constantly inspired and facilitate a higher quality of learning.
Holistic Wellbeing and Mental Wellness As the world grapples to deal with mental health issues, preschools have started investing time and energy towards helping children become more emotionally aware are practice simple forms of mindfulness and emotional regulation.
Modular & Flexible Learning Spaces Understanding the importance of multi-intelligence and many preschools are now investing in spaces that easily transform to serve as learning areas for multiple domains. This requires preschool to invest in modular furniture pieces and formats.
Rise of Out of School Learning Traditionally most learning at schools was cantered around classroom learning, but now increasingly schools, including preschools are focusing on outdoor learning, where children have the opportunity to learn with nature and in specialised learning areas.
Emphasis on Faculty Training Contrary to before where preschool faculty members were part time, unspecialised individuals that enjoyed being around children. Contributors to the early education industry today require to undergo training and certification that allows them to offer a higher quality of learning.
Inclusive Parental Communication In order to provide higher transparency to parents, the way parents and schools interact and share information has changed. Preschools now share learning goals with parents and photographs via digital photo sharing platforms on a daily or a weekly basis.
All of the above factors have strongly contributed towards helping preschools evolve and truly transform the way our children learn and grow!