SAIIER Annual Report 2014-2015: Auroville Pre-Crèche
Auroville Nature Camp
Auroville Sports Resource Centre
The Auroville Pre-Crèche offers the small kids of Auroville a safe and harmonious atmosphere for being, exploring and learning. We have a baby group for the youngest children, 6 months to 1 ½ years old, and a toddler group for children who start the school year at 1 ½ to 2 ½ years old. The parents can find here a supportive place to meet and share their experience raising children.
Activities of the year
This year about 30 babies and their parents participated in the babies group, and 24 kids regularly attended the toddlers group. The school has 5 Aurovilian teachers, 1 part-time volunteer and 1 temporary helper, as well 3 workers for campus maintenance.
At the babies group parents bring their babies and stay with them. We have one teacher, two rooms and a separate playground available for them two mornings a week. The number of participating kids varies, as not all of them come regularly.
The baby team is essential for the kids as well for the parents. We observe that the environment is enriching and supportive for the babies, who experience the collective atmosphere, and who gradually learn to increase the distance from their parents, to mingle, interact and share. The babies gently learn good habits like washing hands before snack, putting things back, keeping inside toys inside and outside toys outside, and sitting in a circle for some singing or activity.
Here we put a lot of effort into the interaction not only with children, but with their parents too. Our work with parents is of importance and as it is delicate and hard, we try to listen to them and suggest positive lines of bringing up children. Parents happily observe changes in the way their children are. Some parents are very happy to come here, to share about education and feel the community life, while making new friends too – especially those who are living more isolated or far away.
Children of the toddlers’ group come every morning and stay without parents. Our focus of work at the Auroville Pre-Crèche is mainly with this age group. We take great care to help the children settle in gently, feel safe and cared for, get used to the team and the place, and gradually learn to be separated, in a as much as possible harmonious way, from their parents.
Our intention is to offer them possibilities for stimulation of all the different aspects of their personality. We focus on physical expansion and balance, fine motor skills, senses and free play. Due to their tender age, we try to keep a good balance between free play and organized activities, offering a flexible structure but also following and channeling their interest and the flows of energy. We provide time and space for them to choose by themselves their area of interest and to explore and understand themselves and each other. They are encouraged to learn to follow some basic discipline and simple rules. We try to nurture their independence, their active involvement in their play, and their interaction with each other.
It is very important for us to give space for the kids to develop concentration and focus. As we are in one big group, we can face difficulties with the excitement and with holding the concentration during activities, as well with quietness during meal times. Luckily in our new building we have more rooms and spaces, so this year we experimented with regularly separating the team into smaller groups for different activities.
One essential part of our daily routine is the circle time. We start with a moment of silence, followed by action songs in 3 languages with body movements, and we end again with quietness, to prepare for the following snack time. This activity is a challenge and we go for it gradually, but we are happy to observe the progress the children make over the course of the year.
Walks to the nearby Matrimandir are really beneficial for quieting the class. This year we also started using one fascinating tool, Tibetan singing bowls, which bring beauty and charm to the atmosphere.
At this age kids change very fast, and the one-year age spread in the class demands that we offer different stimulation for the younger and older kids. We also change and adapt the activities throughout the year to keep pace with the growing kids.
Gradually the kids bloom joyfully and make great progress. The baby team is of great help in preparing the children for the next year - the first year of school, without parents. The teacher puts a lot of energy in preparing the kids to acquire simple rules and good habits. The toddlers group sees great changes in the kids over the course of the year. The first term sees adaptation, feeling good with each other, developing a sense of security, potty training, and acquiring simple rules and habits. More collective games toward the end of the year reflect and stimulate the kids’ growing interest and interaction with each other.
The most important aspect of our work remains the atmosphere we create for the kids, and so we focus a lot on the teacher’s work. At this age the kids are most receptive so we take care to work constantly on ourselves and on our relations in the team. Our primary care is that we ourselves grow more centered, loving, vigilant and responsive to the needs of the situation while being with the kids.
Every year we need to find two new volunteers to help the team. As volunteers come and go, it is disappointing to lose them every year after the hard work of training them.
With the increasing population of Auroville and the fact that we accommodate most of the Auroville kids of this age group in a single team, the school needs one more full-time teacher. Our budget has always been very tight, but we are happy with what we have created and with what we have achieved in two years at our new site and new building. We still need to create quite some facilities like more structures and shade at both playgrounds, a parking shade, a store room, a dining space at the babies’ side, two small swimming pools, and to make some adjustments in the building for safe passage during heavy rains. More generally, we keep our objectives for continuous improvement.
Auroville Pre-Crèche is on a never ending process of evolution as different teachers and parents contribute, sharing their various sensibilities and concerns. Our growth since the beginning has been very much according to the needs and the attitude expressed by the community for childcare and with the aspiration to be in tune with what Mother has said about bringing up children. In the process of our individual progress as teachers we keep discovering ways to improve our organization and the way we are with ourselves, with each other, with parents and with kids.
Auroville Nature Camp
Auroville Sports Resource Centre