6:52 am my alarm rings. I snooze. 10 minutes later, it rings again. I make another effort to snooze. As I struggle to think what day is it today, my mind lights up! “Its Friday”, my mind says and a subtle smile emerges. And my grogginess coupled with laziness gets replaced by motivation and excitement. Gathering my tools of interaction, I rush to work.
Of course, it is not the mundane work, it’s my Friyaay adventure! For me, as a school counselor, the word ‘work’ sounds differently in my mind, it is not full of accountability and deadlines, rather it is full of adventures. I get to engage with curious minds, reflect on their actions and emotions and observe their learning process in the class and much more.
As I enter the corridor of Khoj Community School, I hear a room full of young minds enjoying themselves with their toys. As I settle down in the corner of the class, I see each child creating his own world full of possibilities.Some are busy building blocks and sharing stories imaginary castles, trains with peers; whilst others are struggling to fix a puzzle; some are engrossed in self-exploration of their own capacities to build the tallest towers from the Lego kit. I imagine children are trying to make sense of the world around them; they are giving all weird names to their toy friends.Each one of them has the liberty to choose what they want to play with. This freedom “to choose” is highly taken for granted in the school setting.But this teacher in the class is not telling anyone what to do, where to put the blocks rather she is a mindful observer and a listener to all the ideas that take shape.
And I think to myself, if I, as a preschooler, had the chance to go to my kindergarten and just play for the first 20 minutes, I would have invested less of my time crying and howling while going to school, which would be a relief to my parents.I would have been much more open to looking at this teacher figure, as a person who allows me to just ‘be me’ in my class, rather than having to be told, “ Do this, don’t do that”.
This early morning routine of unstructured free play allows the students to take initiative, get confident and practice their motor skills.And most important, children would just like coming to school. They are smiling more often and generating positive thoughts about school as an institution, which is what every parent wants their child to have.
As these thoughts swim in my mind, the students get a reminder “ Its time to clean up” and they are surprisingly okay with it. They merrily start singing the ‘Clean up’ rhyme along with their teacher and start assembling the toys in the respective boxes. These refreshed minds gather back for their circle time , in the bubbly pink classroom, they are all ready to have their ‘assembly time’ and then explore the concepts for the day.It is a sight to see the little minds get so much respect and compassion, even as a 4-year olds, they are prepared to be all attentive in their world of learning.
About the author: Bimba Chavan works as the Head of programmes with Apni Shala. She also works as a counsellor at the Khoj Community School : An initiative by Apni Shala. Bimba is a post-graduate in Counselling Psychology and has been working in the education space for the last six years .