SAIIER 2019:Aha! Kindergarten
Aha! Kindergarten is for children from 2.5 years to 7 years of age, exploring free progress approach and methodology of learning.
Aha!’s vision is to create and hold a loving and accepting child-centered space that nurtures the free inner will of each child to grow into a self-determining individual, consciously striving to blossom to his or her full potential physically, emotionally, intellectually, aesthetically and spiritually.
We aim to imbibe and put into practice the principle that ‘nothing can be taught’, deeply trusting that children already carry within them both the will and the creative resources needed for them to grow into the fullest expression of themselves.
Activities & Outcomes of the year:
- Summer program: This year Aha! took the initiative of participating in the Summer program with other kindergartens.
- New team: This year two new facilitators have joined Aha!. We are spending time after school hours, to reflect on the day and develop a common understanding about progress of children as well as facilitators.
- New support group members: We have formed a support group of 5 members with 3 new members this year. We meet whenever required and share updates.
- New space: We are in the process of creating a small space for craft work. It will serve as a dedicated area where children can be engrossed in the activity without interruption.
- Playground: We are planning to create a natural playground using trees and other natural materials. The playground will also have a round path for cycle and bobby cars. We are also creating goalposts for football and a basketball hoop. We have identified few simple gymnastic apparatus for children to explore on their own and develop physical balance and coordination.
- New outdoor educational material: Aha! invested in more outdoor toys like bobby cars, wooden rocking horse and hopping inflatable deer; it was a delight to watch children engage with them and to see them explore in different ways (for example, keeping the car upside down, observing the movement of the wheels when the steering wheel is moved).
- Joy and Beauty of Sharing: With this activity children bring their own toys from home and share with everyone. This has led many times to children keeping the toys back in Aha! with the thought to share and play next time with their friends. The joy and beauty of sharing is that children believe that the toys are not personal but for all the friends to share. Children are taking toys from Aha! to their home and they also remember to bring them back to school. We see that in a very natural way they are learning discipline and responsibility.
- Creating Familiarity: We continue the practice from last year of inviting the new children to come in the afternoon along with their parents. This gives them an opportunity to become familiar and comfortable with the space and also gives the parents an opportunity to converse with the facilitators and to understand the methodology practically. Equally, the facilitators get to observe and understand the new children through a more relaxed process. Through this activity both the children and parents build their trust in the school and are better prepared to join in with the bigger group in the school time, making the transition process very smooth.
- Sharing time with parents: We invite the parents for individual meetings to share about their child’s progress and to develop mutual understanding between facilitators and the parent. This helps in harmonizing the child’s environment in school as well as home.
- Group activity: During circle time (before snack and lunch) is also a space which provides children the opportunity to spontaneously create their own songs and stories.
- Potlucks: This is year we had two potlucks, one in each term. These are a great opportunity for parents to spend time together and share their experience about the progress of their children in Aha! It was wonderful to see the diversity of culture in Aha! family, the acceptance and respect for each other while enjoying delicious dishes.
After our meeting and discussion with child psychologists Jerry and Gopa, we were delighted to know that much of their scientific studies / child brain scan study resonated with Aha!'s philosophy based on the integral education concepts of Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
Gopa also conducted a few sessions with parents of Aha!. Parents found the sharing very good and helpful in developing better understanding of their children.
We have been able to see the growth and progress in each child's physical, emotional, mental aspects. This growth is reflected in their spirit of cooperation, increased patience and perseverance, in the nurturing, growth and engrossment in their own interests, both collective and individual. We have been witness to the struggles and successes of the mixed age group. It has been a joy to see the natural growth and development of each child. We have grown in our mutual understanding – between the parents and the facilitators and between the Aha! Kindergarten team. We have been able to observe how the children find their own flow in the presence of this understanding.
We will continue to grow the opportunities for a variety of experiences with the creation of new physical spaces for the children. We hope to extend the space so that the children can immerse themselves into the activities without the need for undue interruption.
We will continue to focus on team work and team spirit as we go forward. We look forward to exploring the aspect of integration – connecting all subjects. We can continue to clarify our idea of free progress and our role in creating this opportunity in Aha!.