SAIIER 2013:Aha! Kindergarten
Aha! Kindergarten started its second year, with 10 children from Auroville between 3 to 6 years of age. Inspired by the vision and principles of integral education, the objectives of Aha! are outlined as follows:
- To create a facilitating environment for children where they feel free to explore, interact, discover and develop faculties and parts of their being.
- To encourage parent participation in creating such an environment and facilitation so that there is a continuum established between the home and the school.
- To initiate a process of self-discovery and insight, and kindle the active imagination of the being towards knowledge.
Highlights of the year
Inviting parents for dinner cooked by the children
Most of the year at school, the children played the game of cooking – going around the garden collecting leaves, seeds, flowers and making their imaginative dishes like salads, juices by grinding the materials they have collected and they also used to arrange imaginary dining tables with clothes and flower vases at the centre of the cloth and things like that. One day, they expressed their wish to do real cooking and to invite their parents to school to have dinner prepared by them. So we arranged for this. One of the parents invited us to his farm so that the children can collect all that they like, vegetables and fruits. The children were also exposed simultaneously to the source of various eatables and the process involved in it. They collected everything they liked in the long walk and after coming back to school, they sorted everything and according to the raw materials they had, they decided the menu – Vegetable curry, dhal, fried brinjal curry, chapathis and rice. They cooked in the firewood under the guidance of teachers. Everything in the process of cooking, right from deciding the menu to cutting vegetables, rolling chapathis into different shapes were done by the children. And after their parents arrived around 6 in the eve, they shared their joy of dancing and music with them, and later had dinner with them at school. This helped them to become more confident, became more skillful at cutting vegetables and also came to know in detail, the sequence involved in preparing a dish.
Visiting practical work areas
The children were taken on a visit to the fields to harvest peanuts wherein they were exposed to the way people work and the steps and the process involved – plucking the plants, separating the shell from the plants, opening the shells to separate the seeds and we spent the whole day there, some children helping the workers, some just observing, some just being in the environment doing their own things like free drawing, some went for a nature walk around the farm to pluck and eat their favourite fruits. It was a very good learning experience for them.
Building the mud oven
One of the parents expressed his interest to build a mud oven for the school. And when he started with it, the children joined him, helping him with mixing the mud, carrying bricks, in making the small wooden door for the oven – drawing its shape and cutting planks of required size. When the oven was done, with the help of children, we baked bread and biscuits and had them during the snack time. They enjoyed this work with mud and at the same time, they were creating their own things like building dams, rivers…
Dance and music
One of the teachers had great interest in music and dance. So, she evoked interest in the children by playing harmonium, tabla and singing along with it. Eventually, the volunteers who had the sense of music also joined and made it more interesting which created a wonderful environment. And this had a great impact on the children, they were so drawn to this, that this became a part of their day, they were singing, dancing and playing different instruments, chose different places in and out of the house as stage and were busy getting themselves ready for the dance – decorating themselves with beads as armbands, wrapping around the right clothes to look like butterfly, fairy etc. They were at the same time evolving on their own choreography to do a performance under a tree – cleaned the place themselves, decorated and organized the whole dance. This helped them to become more expressive and independent and learnt the art of appreciating music and dance.