Childhood skills shape our life’s success…
Early childhood development is a smart investment.
James J. Heckman, American Nobel Laureate
National Curriculum Framework for Early Childhood Care and Education (NCF-ECCE) was released on 20th October 2022. It is very significant and one of the most important dimensions in the implementation of NEP-20, which is bound to have a desired impact on our education system and the all-around holistic development of children.
Till now the pre-primary stage was not linked to mainstream education but in NEP-20 well thought linkage was envisaged as the first 8 years of a child’s life is the most critical for lifelong well-being and overall development of personality – physical, vital, mental, intellectual, and spiritual including socio-emotional aspects.
As practitioners in the field of education, we know that neuro-science research declares that over 85% of an individual’s brain development takes place by the age of 6 years. Thus, ECCE which refers to both the care and education of children from birth to 8 years is of prime importance to any society. Children from 0-3 years are mostly taken care at their respective homes and school – setting – care is taken over from the 3rd year onwards.
This foundation stage was taken care till now through pre-primary schools, kindergarten schools, nursery classes, shishu vatikas, and Anganwadis. As you know in Vidya Bharathi even the care for children below 3 years under the Samartha Bharat model, by training parents, teachers and the concerned.
Curriculum refers to the entire organized experience of students in a school setting to achieve the goals, aims and objectives of education. The elements that constitute and bring to life this curriculum is – apart from the goals and objectives – many viz. Syllabus, content, pedagogical practices, teaching-learning materials, school and classroom – practices, learning environment, the culture of the institution, assessment etc.
NCF-ECCE is developed on the vision of NEP-20 and kept in view of the diversity and state – contexts, of course without forgetting the harmony of our country. Moreover, this speaks directly to the teacher, who is the fulcrum, pivot and frontline warrior in the education system.
This NCF-ECCE 22 further focuses on numerous classroom practices with real-life illustrations from a variety of contexts and situations. It also explains in detail how children learn scientifically at this stage along with aims, curricular goals, competencies, learning outcomes, TLM, assessment, time management linkage to the preparatory stage and principles of content selection, etc, which are of great concern to any teacher.
Few highlights of this NCF are mentioned below:
- More scientific research from across education, neuroscience, and economics demonstrates high-quality early childhood care and education is perhaps more scientific and the best investment for the future of a nation. Brain development is very rapid during the first 8 years of age along with physical, cognitive and socio-emotional development.
- Well-defined Aims and objectives:
NCF-ECCE defines the terms – Aims, curricular goals, competencies and learning outcomes at this foundation stage. A clear distinction between these terms is given along with the process of derivation and articulation, which clarifies the teacher and stakeholders.
- Approach to Literacy and Numeracy:
Children learn spoken language most rapidly between the ages of 0 to 8 along with attaining multilingual skills. Writing skills during this stage are learnt less naturally.
Thus, these basic literacy skills are acquired gradually during this stage. It is also justified to expose students in multiple oral languages. Approaches to teaching mathematics are given in detail because developing a positive attitude is essential.
- Different pedagogic methods and strategies:
A safe, secure, comfortable and happy classroom environment can help children to learn better and achieve more at this stage. Care and responsiveness with ample opportunities to experience, experiment, and explore are the methods of pedagogy at this stage along with good teaching. By building an affectionate relationship with children leads to learning through play, conversation, stories, toys, music and craft.
- Teaching-learning material (TLM) and principles of content selection are well explained:
Children at this foundation stage are more engaged in learning when they use multiple senses (Gnanendriyas) along with their hands, legs, etc (Karmendriyas). From simple toys for play to specific manipulations for counting and numeracy, a variety of TLM is essential, which was systematically explained.
Competencies and learning outcomes provide direction for content selection. However, these principles and organization of content are well explained in detail which is to be comprehended by every teacher.
- Guidelines for creating a judicious ecosystem:
NCF-ECCE focuses on building an enabling ecosystem that is essential for implementation. This includes empowering teachers and enabling a supportive academic and administrative support system without ignoring adequate infrastructure including necessary learning resources.
- Guiding Principles of Assessment:
Assessment at the foundation stage is seen as an enabler for learning and development. It is visualized as an integral part of the everyday classroom process and largely based on systematic and careful observation of children and analysis of their work such as craft, projects and simple worksheets.
- Time Management:
Children like to spend more free time exploring the immediate environment. However, as they grow older, they need organized activities that are play-based and structured. The teacher has to see that there is a balance between time spent on doing things on their own and time spent with others. They need time and space to move around, run, jump and be physically active. Hence, everyday time management is a big task for the teacher. Along with illustration details are given in NCFECCE.
- Linkage to the preparatory stage:
4-stage design is scientific and it requires continuity from one to another. The shift from the developmental imagination foundation stage to the development of skills and capacities during the preparatory requires proper linkage. Children are expected to attain foundational literacy and numeracy along with other scholastic capacities, arts, sports, values, beliefs and social capacities.
- Addressing other critical areas:
Developmental delays and disabilities among children including safety and security in schools is very much essential for this stage. Ways and means for the same are well scripted here.
In spite of Vidya Bharathi’s Sisuvatika and other major experiments with success for this stage, in order to be able to implement this curriculum we should also find more realistic pathways through real-life experiments and come out with innovative practices.
(Author is a Retired Principal and National President of Vidya Bharati) : – D Ramakrishna Rao
और पढ़ें : संगीत का अंग है घोषः कृपाशंकर शर्मा