SAIIER 2019:Aikiyam School
Aikiyam School provides a progressive kindergarten, primary and intermediate education for children from Kuilapalayam and other Tamil villages geographically connected to Auroville. The school's mission is to maintain a creative and joyful atmosphere, where the uniqueness of each child is respected and nurtured. We aim to prepare children for life in a rapidly changing world, while maintaining strong contact with their Tamil cultural heritage. Our approach is based on the principles of integral education as defined by the founders of Auroville, the Mother and Sri Aurobindo.
Aikiyam School started as New Creation Bilingual School in the early 1980s. The school provides a quality bilingual education in Tamil and English, covering all of the standard academic subjects (CBSE curriculum), physical education, and a wide variety of vocational options, giving children a range of choices in the type of education they will pursue when leaving the school.
Activities of the year:
All Aikiyam School teachers understand that a strong academic base is necessary for the future generation. The method we follow to make children familiar to the content is innovative and participatory. The annual syllabus of every class is completed in time even though teachers follow various activities that keep Aikiyam as one of the research projects of SAIIER. Learning, assessing formatively and summatively, understanding strengths and weaknesses of each child and relearning activities were followed without fail in all classes. Some children who have different interests are given personalized educational programmes where they can pursue these lines in a more focused way.
Art Therapy: Mathilde and Melina gave Art Therapy classes for children from Crèche to 4th grade. It is a great space for children to bring out all their emotions through materials provided to them. Children are given chances to work alone and in small groups. This classroom is very meditative for viewers’ eyes. It is also a great space for self expression for children. The art teacher Mathilde describes: “With kindergarten, we mainly had experiences with paint, paper/collage, and colors as well as body movements and music in order to develop their gross and fine motor skills. With 1st to 3rd standards, we used all type of artistic means to explore basic emotions and how to identify, express and regulate them in healthy ways. With 4th and 5th grades, we used all type of artistic means to explore their personality and deepen their self-knowledge. With all groups, we also worked on their self-awareness, their social skills, and help with their project presentation.”
Write Dance: Children from Crèche to 2nd grade are following a programme called Write Dance. Respective class teachers with the help of our volunteer teacher Ms. Melina conducted these classes. All children following these classes met the Write Dance teachers once a week. Children read stories and songs with body movements, the songs practiced with recorded CDs. They sing story songs and their body movements are developed as calligraphy patterns. Through this activity the children experience their own movements according to the music and the stories, which are transformed in to drawings with the help of writing / drawing materials like crayons, pencils and painting brushes.
Fantastic Phonics: This alternative English learning programme was continued up to 5th grade during this academic year. In this programme children complete 60 Phonics stories before they reach 5th grade. The activities involved in the process of learning bring immense impact on reading speed and writing without spelling mistakes. These programmes are full of language activities with pre-prepared materials so that children are very busy. The teachers act as guides and facilitators during these classes.
Get Set Go!: This is another English learning programme that can enhance and motivate children to have English conversations in the classroom. It is 100% activity based, immersing children in the language activities. Classes include short poems/songs and conversations that are practiced. Through this programme the children's spoken style has improved a lot. (See separate report.)
Body Awareness: Aikiyam School has been giving Body Awareness classes for Kindergarten and Primary classes. Two trained teachers along with class teachers run the programme. This programme helps children to understand the connection between the space, objects in the space and themselves. They become more aware of their physical motoral capacity and how to coordinate the body parts with regards to space and objects around them. Our new body awareness teacher Isora is adding a good strength to this team.
Reading activity: One of the experienced teachers, Lisbeth gave reading classes for 5th and 6th grade children this year. Her students go to the library with their borrowed books. They have half an hour reading with Lisbeth or one of the teachers assigned by Lisbeth. Their book reports and book making activities in their normal classes helped the children appreciate books they read.
Memory Game (a pilot study): Paula, one of the Transition School teachers has created a cooperative memory game for children which can increase their focus and memory power. The children's own pictures are used as memory cards. Children enjoyed this game a lot because the material was directly related to the children themselves. (See separate report.)
Aikiyam Physical Education: Aikiyam children follow a compulsory physical education programme every evening from 4pm - 5pm. The physical education team organizes activities like gymnastics, running, jogging, swimming, volleyball and basketball. This systematic instruction helps children to develop flexibility of their body, refreshing their mind and creating good awareness about personal hygiene.
Supportive Learning Programme and IEP: Children who have learning difficulties follow a supportive learning programme in Aikiyam. Children who have problems that are beyond our capacity to help like speech therapy or psycho therapy are sent to Deepam.
Some children who cannot follow some classes due to their different capacity, are able to choose more classes that they like and an Individualized Educational Programme (IEP) is arranged for their learning. Those children spend more hours with teachers who teach a simplified / personalized programme for them. This happens for a couple of hours every day and they spend the rest of the day with their classmates.
Dance workshop and performances: Bill and Livia Vanavar came again this year to Aikiyam to give a dance workshop for children, teaching songs and dances from different parts of the world. It was a very successful workshop for the 1st to 4th graders. They also gave a performances for the children and for the community.
Field Trips: This year our children were taken to Mudumalai wildlife sanctuary, the Planetarium in Chennai and number of trips in and around Auroville. All upper middle grade children visited Solitude Farm in Auroville and took part actively in the food festival.
Children also participated in a 2-day cycle trip organized by Payanam team, and did one day trek in Devathanapettai hills.
Every Aikiyam child is taken care of. Aikiyam’s activities can be taken as an example for any rural school in India. Students visiting from various teacher training colleges appreciated the programme of Aikiyam, and teachers from Chennai and other Auroville schools have come to observe Aikiyam classes. We are constantly engaging and learning from each other.