A three-year-old child in nursery could be learning to identify alphabets, typing on computers, and significance of national holidays, depending on which school she is enrolled in.
Pre-primary education in the national capital is unregulated due to which there is no set curriculum for nursery. This gives schools a free hand to prepare their curriculum.
Most schools said students are taught about concepts through activities. For instance, oral counting is taught through poems, play and flash cards among others.
“Students identify numbers when they associate it with objects. One of the activities is role play. So students will dress up as, let’s say, as birds. So to denote one, a student will come as duck, then two students will come as sparrows and so on. Students learn numbers as well as identify birds also,” said Shoma Banerjee, head mistress of Springdales School, Pusa Road.
Banerjee said there is no structured curriculum as the focus is on teaching students cognitive skills such as thinking, reading, remembering and paying attention.
Students are told about national holidays and festivals such as, Republic Day, Independence Day, Christmas, Holi, Eid and Lohri.
“Students are told stories about the significance of Independence Day, national flag and emblem. For instance, in October they are told stories about Gandhi Jayanti, Dussehra, Diwali and Phool Waalon ki Sair, an annual celebration by the flowers sellers of Delhi. Similarly, every month they are taught something new through stories and activities around events,” said Ashok Pandey, principal, Ahlcon International School.
Though some schools conduct regular tests to check the improvement in students, many others said they do not conduct any test at nursery level. “There are no tests as the child is too young,” said a principal.
In most schools at the nursery level children are not burdened with learning. Out of the four and half hours they spend in school, only one and half to two hours are devoted to classroom teaching.
“Our basic idea is to make them independent, listen and comprehend,” said Tania Joshi, principal, The Indian School.
The curriculum is designed to help children identify letters, and numbers in English and Hindi. The children are evaluated on the basis of their participation in different activities and worksheets.
Even parents agree that a school should not overburden children with a lot of learning in nursery. “A nursery class should be where my child can have lot of fun and she is excited to go to school,” said Tamana Singh, mother of a three-year-old and resident of Safdarjung Enclave.
But around 300 Delhi government-run schools, which have nursery classes, have a common curriculum prepared by the State Council of Education and Research (SCERT).
“Right now the syllabus is broad with a focus on teaching children alphabets, colours, and numbers, through activities. Activities are conducted by teachers but there are not many details. But we are preparing a new well-defined curriculum which will be applicable from next year,” said a source from SCERT.