Model pre-primary schools with fun activity, learning areas are coming up all across Kerala. Curious? 

Under this activity concept, a classroom is divided into various activity areas including block area, dramatic play area, literary area, art area, sensory table area, discovery area and so on
Representative image (Picture: Express)
Representative image (Picture: Express)

Samagra Shiksha Kerala (SSK), in association with the Kerala Government, is implementing a project to set up model pre-primary schools with activity areas across the state. “Preschools should encourage children to learn through interactive play lessons and provide them a variety of hands-on learning activities,” said, Amul Roy, SSK State Programme Officer. 

Where did the idea stem from? He said, "Young children learn best when they are actively involved and experimenting in their surroundings.The preschool environment must encourage children to explore their surroundings using all their senses and develop dispositions for learning such as curiosity, cooperation, confidence, creativity, persistence and imagination. This is where the concept of activity areas play a key role. Activity areas include interactive materials and tasks that focus on a particular skill, area of development or interest. Preschool classrooms often use activity areas to encourage self-paced learning and exploration."

Under this activity concept, a classroom is divided into various activity areas including a block area, a dramatic play area, a literary area, an art area, a sensory table area, a manipulative or discovery area, an indoor gross motor play area, a music and movement area, a computer area, an outdoor area and a nature or science area. 

Roy said, "Though the project is being implemented all over the state, only 2,000 pre-primary schools are affiliated with the Education Department, which is very low. The work related to the setting up of activity areas was halted due to the pandemic and continuous lockdowns." The project has been implemented in 14 schools under SSK and 168 schools under the Strengthening Teaching-Learning and Results for States (STARS) programme.

Both SSK and the government have set aside a good budget for this project. Roy said, "Schools have been provided Rs 15 lakh each to implement the project. Respective local self-government institutions would provide additional funds. The work at schools in Thiruvananthapuram is going as per schedule. A good example of the activity area can be seen at a school in Thrissur. The classroom there will be inaugurated by the end of this month."

Here are some of the objectives behind developing this activity area

- Provide development-oriented hands-on activities rather than paper-and-pencil worksheets to pre-primary children

-Provide an opportunity to function as part of a group and give children a chance to practice social skills

- Ensure development in all preschool development areas.Change the culture and dynamics of preschool classrooms in Kerala

- Promote the development of social skills among peers and other adults.Expected outcome

- Increased student engagement in the learning process

- Hands-on learning in an organised way in activity areas with a different educational focus. 

-- Better opportunities for children with multiple learning styles, particularly visual and kinaesthetic learners

- Providing students with opportunities to choose from activity areas without overwhelming them

- Reduced discipline problems as groups are limited to a number that can reasonably function in each area

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