Director, Arya Gurukul, Kalyan, Mumbai
Mrs. Neelam Malik is an eminent educationist who has been in the field of Education for over 4 decades. Her journey began with St. Mary’s School in Kalyan. Today Mrs. Neelam Malik and Mr. Barat Malik run an SSC board school and 2 CBSE board schools and 6 Little Aryans centres (Pre-schools) which she overlooks closely and tries to evolve steadily by bringing in new ideas and revolutionary methods of teaching.
Reggio Emilia is a teaching pedagogy designed for early childhood education. It is based on self-learning and self-discovery. The reigns of learning are in the hands of children with teachers being facilitators. Self-learning is closely linked to the concept of ‘learning by doing’. But in the Reggio method, this is taken to the next level.
In the month of April 2019, 4 members of the Arya Gurukul family - Mrs. Neelam Malik, Mr. Krishank Malik, Ms. Bhumika Ray and Mrs. Sapna Uppal attended a week long workshop in Italy attended by over 450 participants from across the globe. They returned back bubbling with ideas and new concepts that they were eager to implement at Little Aryans.
This method of teaching has its roots in Italy, in a small town named Reggio Emilia, by an educationist named Loris Malaguzz. The Reggio Emilia method of teaching revolutionized the approach to early learning from shifting the focus from the teacher to the taught. It is an approach that gives importance to respect, freedom, responsibility and self-learning.
According to Mrs. Bhumika Ray, “It is a child that leads the learning experience, they decide what activity to do, which tools to use and in the process, they not just learn concepts but will never forget it. Plus, children get in touch with their explorer side which surpasses everything else.”
Implementation and acceptance for this method is a slightly difficult matter, however, “Reggio-inspired methods” within the framework of our existing culture and pedagogy can be applied.
At the core of this approach lies the idea that every child possesses immense potential. All the materials are accessible and available to the children in the classroom. The child decides what they want to explore.
According to Mr. Krishank Malik, ”Children would return the materials they used and keep them in its place after playing with them. The teacher did not give any instructions. Hence, it builds responsibility and ownership.” he observed.
Self-learning also leads to self-discovery, where in the process of selecting what they want to learn and how they want to learn, children also understand their interests and their abilities.
Mrs. Sapna Uppal quotes, “Learning in this method is child-directed and not teacher- directed. When a problem is presented to children, they find the solution themselves. Some may find the solution in a month, others may take 2 months, but they are allowed to think.”
Children also learn through various interactions - social, technological and through nature.
The most important belief is that children possess a ‘hundred different languages’ in which they express themselves. Our members visited experimental centres for painting, drawing, sculpting, dancing, singing, pretend play. Each of these languages are important. Hence, it speaks of the importance of play in learning.
The teacher or the adults are mentors and guides and merely support the child. The teacher will not dictate what the child learns.
“We are slowly incorporating some of the Reggio practices at Little Aryans. We have started making Classroom portfolios for our children which will be displayed. There will be more stress on observing the children. Some principles are already followed at Little Aryans, for e.g. all our events such as the Annual Day is child-driven with minimum intervention by teachers.” says Mrs. Neelam Malik.
Building on the above premises, Little Aryans arranged an activity for its children known as "My Perfume Garden".
It is an experience created for the kids. An outdoor space was created with different seeds, flowers, oils, leaves, plants, stones etc. Children visited each booth and touch the seeds, feel the leaves, smell the flowers and the oils and played with mud and built clay models. Therefore, it tingled all their senses.
Little Aryans has trained its teachers too in the Reggio Method of teaching as they also believe in respect for the child and happiness of the child. The Reggio philosophies can be applied at home too so that the child feels valued, respected and happy.
Director, Arya Gurukul, Kalyan, Mumbai