The lower and upper kindergarten (KG) classrooms at Chennai Primary School, Taramani, are packed with children in oversized, hand-me-downs.
While the children in the LKG classroom take a quick nap on the floor, the ones in UKG are a picture of energy, belting out rhymes and numbers tirelessly.
The KG classes began in this school, and 24 others, this academic year, as part of the Chennai Corporation’s initiative to increase the number of schools offering such classes. According to Corporation officials, one of the main reasons behind the initiative is parents’ enthusiasm.
M. Banupriya’s son Arjun has just joined LKG at the school. The wife of a driver, educating her children is top priority for her. “I had bought an admission form to a private school, but then heard the Corporation school was offering KG classes,” she said.
D. Vimla (26), a trained Montessori teacher, has just been appointed to the UKG class. As she leads the class in an action song, the children screech, ‘Bits of paper, lying on the floor…’
According to Vimla, the ‘touch and feel’ method of learning advocated by the Montessori system makes a world of difference to learning.
“It goes beyond books. For example, if they learn about a vegetable, we let them handle one, so they can understand better,” she said.
According to M.P. Vijayakumar, retired State project director, Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan, starting KG classes alongside anganwadis, present in most Corporation schools, may prove to be duplication.
“Anganwadis provide health, nutrition and education cover to children below the age of six years. Immunisation, supplementary food and a holistic pre-school education are provided. Rather than starting KG classes separately, efforts should be made to strengthen the education component in Anganwadis,” he said.